Pep Guardiola and Maurizio Sarri are great admirers of each other and have publicly professed the love they have for how they like to set their teams up. On Sunday, they will have another chance to square up once more (both managers faced each other in the group stage of last season’s UEFA Champions League) as their teams will open the curtains for the new English Premiership season with the traditional Charity Shield game.
Maurizio Sarri has not had the ideal pre-season shortened by the World Cup and a late move for him from Napoli to Chelsea. He has had only about 3 to 4 weeks to prepare a Chelsea side that is littered with uncertainty. Eden Hazard, Thibaut Courtois, and Willian are all heavily linked to a move away from Stamford Bridge.
Sarri has had to rely on youth, which might actually be a good and refreshing thing for the Italian manager and Chelsea. Callum Hudson-Odoi has caught the eye and the 17-year-old is primed to make a regular run in the team, especially with Hazard unavailable and Willian returning late for reasons best known to them.
Chelsea has a solid team, with youth at the centre and free from the drama of the divas. How far they can go without the likes of Hazard, Willian and Courtois, if they do leave during the campaign, is subject to debate. However, Chelsea fans have a slight reason to be excited to watch Jorginho their summer signing play.
Pep’s Man City are a more settled ship – rightly so. The addition of Riyad Mahrez means they have more depth in attack. City’s first summer signing indicates the club’s approach to being more financially frugal with a focus on working and building the team that grabbed an unprecedented 100 points in the league last season.
Man City look like the stronger side, but I do believe the game will be a showpiece for youth players in both ranks. The likes of Phil Foden and Hudson-Odoi should play central roles.
The drum rolls as we anticipate the start of a new season and the commencement of weekend engagements. Welcome back lads!