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Guardiola, Mahrez love Foden’s Community Shield performance

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Pep Guardiola was all business after celebrating his first Community Shield with a 2-0 win over Chelsea at Wembley Stadium on Sunday.

The Manchester City boss presided over a complete win, with both sides absent a number of big names.

[ MORE: Man City wins Community Shield ]

Overall, the result was fair and Guardiola thought it well deserved. From the BBC:

“It was so hard but the players played really well,” Guardiola said. “Our mentality was right and we got the win. We prepare game by game. Our results will determine who we are. We will see at the end of the season what our level is.”

City youngster Phil Foden was strong in the win, dancing down the pitch to set up Sergio Aguero’s first goal. The England 18-year-old is ready for the big time, Guardiola said, as many continue to debate whether Foden will go on loan.

“Phil Foden is ready for the Premier League,” Guardiola said. “He was last season and now he has one more year experience. It’s so good for us.”

Riyad Mahrez, who also played well for City, is also a Foden fan.

“For a guy of 18 years it’s very good and he is improving every day,” Mahrez said. “For him, I’m happy.”

Will he stay at City, or get a PL loan? You could argue he’d be a better fit for a smaller role with the champs, and continued play in Guardiola’s system, than being a bigger part of a smaller side.

Community Shield preview: Chelsea and Man City start season off

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but wiThe perennial curtain-raiser has an interesting twist to it this season: one manager is making his debut.

Maurizio Sarri will take charge of his first competitive match with Chelsea, hoping to navigate Manchester City in the Community Shield and its weird not-really-that-important-but-still-silverware-if-you-want-it-to-be feeling fans wrestle with each August. The game will kick off at 10:00 a.m. ET on Sunday morning.

There’s plenty of excitement around the Community Shield fixture since fans are salivating for the return of club football, but also the teams involved never truly know whether to take it seriously or not. At the very least, it’s a good chance to get the first team on the field in a match with a competitive feel to it, setting the stage for the season to come.

Sarri has a unique opportunity in the match – to win a trophy in his first competitive match in charge, something not done by the new boss of an English club since David Moyes in this very competition in 2013, having taken over for Sir Alex Ferguson.

It will also be Chelsea fans’ first chance to see the team Sarri picks as first-choice. While it’s possible a few players could still make their way into the starting eleven as the beginning of the season rolls along, the team placed out on the field at Wembley on Sunday will be a major clue as to Sarri’s positional preferences and tactical style. Reuben Loftus-Cheek could see time after impressing in the England squad at the World Cup, while Willian has a tall task working back into club favor after a tumultuous summer.

Another young Brit could see time for Chelsea as Callum Hudson-Odoi could find himself with significant minutes in a competitive atmosphere after an impressive preseason. The 17-year-old was deployed on the left wing throughout the early run, especially against Arsenal a few days ago. With Eden Hazard still recovering from heavy World Cup lifting, the London product has the chance to impress on his biggest stage yet.

For Manchester City, a winger of their own has a massive opportunity to stake a claim. Riyad Mahrez has recovered from a slight injury to fitness, and will likely have the opportunity to put forth an argument for regular minutes. The former Leicester City regular has plenty of work to do if he wishes to see time among a squad exploding with attacking talent, but with Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling yet to return from extended post-World Cup leave, Mahrez has his chance.

The Blues also hope to buck recent trends and omens, having lost their last four Community Shield appearances. Of the four Premier League seasons that followed each of those four Community Shield losses, they failed to win the league in any of them, and finished outside the top four in each of the last two.

In addition, Chelsea has lost two straight to Manchester City in all competitions, and have not lost three straight since way back in 2010.

While there is plenty on the line in this match stuck in Premier League pergatory, most fans will just be happy with one simple thing – club football is back.

Youth gives Guardiola, Man City glimpse of squad depth

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NEW JERSEY — Preseason gives clubs an opportunity to take a look at a variety of players, whether they may be squad regulars, fringe players, newcomers or reserves.

[ MORE: Three things from Liverpool-Man City ]

In Manchester City’s case, the Premier League champions have carried many of the latter during their International Champions Cup tour in the United States, largely due to the fact that their stars are still recovering from a long 2017/18 PL season, in addition to duties at this summer’s World Cup in Russia.

No Kevin De Bruyne, David Silva or Sergio Aguero meant more time for manager Pep Guardiola to get a glimpse of young talents like Phil Foden and Jack Harrison, both of whom have made the most of their opportunity in a crowded Man City midfield.

Despite two consecutive ICC defeats over the past week, Guardiola remains pleased with what he has seen from his young players, who had the lead against Liverpool prior to the introduction of Mohamed Salah in the second half.

“It’s incredible what we have done,” Guardiola said. “For 75 minutes we are incredible against that team, playing in the final of the Champions League and those kind of amazing players we have I am so, so proud. I’m happy to be managers of those guys.

“We made 75 minutes incredible but the last 15 minutes we were so tired and there were some changes and of course their quality of the attacking players they deserved to score more goals at the end.”

The ICC has been important for City on the defensive side as well, with youthful players like 17-year-old Eric Garcia and 19-year-old Cameron Humphreys-Grant earning significant minutes for a back line that conceded the fewest amount of goals in 2017/18.

While the Citizens’ youth has been the main focal point since arriving in America, the club has brought along two key figures in the attacking third, with Leroy Sane and first-year winger Riyad Mahrez — who joined from Leicester City this summer.

Sane was impactful for the Citizens on Wednesday, scoring just 12 minutes into the second half after being brought on by Guardiola.

Meanwhile, despite playing with mainly reserves in the first stanza, Mahrez displayed his creativity and pace on several occasions for Man City.

[ MORE: Salah, Mane shine with brilliant second half for Liverpool ]

Guardiola believes that despite building a strong resume last season at the Etihad Stadium that the best has yet to come for Sane, making him a dangerous work in progress.

“It depends on him,” Guardiola told reporters. “He needs more minutes and he needs to regain his principles in terms of playing without the ball. He has the talent to do that and we are happy that he scored. Still, he is far away from his best.”

Three things from Liverpool-Man City in ICC

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The Premier League season is just a few weeks away, and we got a slight glimpse of two of England’s heavyweights on Wednesday night in the International Champions Cup.

[ MORE: Mahrez, Sane eager for Man City glory ]

Liverpool topped Manchester City, 2-1, behind a late Sadio Mane penalty kick in second-half stoppage time, and there was a clear difference in the two sides after each manager made adjustments at halftime.

While both sides were without many of their notable players, Jurgen Klopp and the Reds fielded several familiar faces behind their front line, including defensively with Andrew Robertson and Virgil Van Dijk.

Meanwhile, the attention on the City side was drawn towards summer signing Riyad Mahrez, who looks to bring the reigning PL champions yet another threat heading into 2018/19.

Here are three key talking points from the Man City-Liverpool clash:


Klopp has treasures up front in Salah, Mane

Liverpool struggled to break down the City back line for much of the first half, which wasn’t entirely unexpected with many of the team’s reserves up front.

However, the brilliance of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane shone through in the second stanza.

Salah, who didn’t have the World Cup he had hoped for after returning from a shoulder injury, showed no ill effects from a long 2017/18 season at MetLife Stadium.

Just a minute after coming into the match, the Egyptian nodded home a header inside the six-yard box, before nearly scoring another header and striking post from distance on a third effort.

Meanwhile, Mane’s pace and vision continue to make Liverpool one of the biggest PL threats, and his combination play with Salah is something of pure genius.

While it’s unfair to assess Man City on the night due to its lack of many stars being in the team, Liverpool’s front men lived up to their end of the bargain as they prepare to dethrone the Citizens come next May.


Mahrez gives the Citizens another dimension

As if a team that scored 106 goals last season in England’s top flight needed another attacking figure, right?

Pep Guardiola‘s decision to go out and add Riyad Mahrez this summer has given Man City yet another key attacker to throw into his mixing bowl of talent, which already features Sergio Aguero, Kevin De Bruyne, Leroy Sane, Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus.

Albeit without much help offensively on Wednesday, Mahrez gave City a glimpse of just how dangerous he can be when linked up with the club’s first team.

The Algeria international found himself in several positions going forward that had Liverpool shaking in its boots, including an early first-half ball into Lukas Nmecha, that was nearly finished.


A glimpse of the title race

It’s difficult to ever take stock in preseason matches, but there’s little doubting the quality in both Man City and Liverpool’s squads heading into August.

While City’s move to acquire Mahrez dominated recent headlines, Liverpool made several great transfers of its own, bringing in Fabinho and Naby Keita to create an even more forceful midfield in 2018 and beyond.

Both clubs possess the best attacks in England, and possibly Europe, making them the heavy favorites to contend for the PL.

The various meetings between the sides last season in PL and Champions League play provided significant enjoyment for onlookers, and it’s hard to imagine this season will be any different.

Liverpool nips Man City in New Jersey

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Sadio Mane converted a Dominic Solanke-won stoppage time penalty as Liverpool beat Manchester City 2-1 in an International Champions Cup game in New Jersey on Wednesday.

Leroy Sane and Mohamed Salah traded goals early in the second half.

Man City started few familiar names, with Riyad Mahrez and Claudio Bravo the most experiences, while Liverpool used nine regulars from last season as well as new man Fabinho.

Second half subs included Sadio Mane and Dominic Solanke for Liverpool, while Pep Guardiola introduced Joe Hart, Bernardo Silva, Leroy Sane, and new signing Claudio Gomes.

[ MORE: Brighton breaks transfer record ]

Fabinho was fortunate to not give a penalty away to Lukas Nmecha within the first quarter hour. Riyad Mahrez found Nmecha in the box and Loris Karius put the rebound back to the player. Fabinho made contact with the back of Nmecha’s leg before the player popped the ball over a goal, but what followed was only a corner kick.

Fabinho then fouled former NYCFC midfielder Jack Harrison moments later.

Curtis Jones provided rare early danger for Liverpool, but Claudio Bravo had little trouble with the youngster’s shot.

Man City’s Riyad Mahrez was the bright spot of the first half hour for both teams.

Jones forced Bravo into another low save in the 33rd minute. He’d later be whistle for a perceived dive in the 43rd minute, but this was clearly a man not in the penalty-giving mood.

Liverpool made plenty of halftime changes, and Sadio Mane nearly scored in the 48th minute.

Caoimhin Kelleher stopped a Leroy Sane effort in the 53rd minute. At the other end, Solanke had a goal pulled back for offside.

That’s when Sane scored a beautiful goal, using his speed to get behind the Liverpool back line before hammering a shot inside the far post that bounded into the top of the goal.

Salah subbed into the game, and scored a headed goal moments later. He was offside, but the fans were pleased and the linesman didn’t spot it.

Salah could’ve made it two had a back post header not been cleared wide by Cameron Humphreys-Grant.

Liverpool was the better money for a goal over the rest of the match, Mane and Salah giving the American crowd plenty of reason to ooh and aah.

Solanke was taken down in stoppage time with a body check from Tosin Adarabioyo.