City collected the first silverware of the season after an entertaining 3-2 win over a Chelsea side who were reduced to ten men shortly after they went 1-0 up prior to half time.
Fernando Torres struck after 40 minutes after Eden Hazard and Ramires bypassed the City defence after a poor clearance by Vincent Kompany. Torres looked clean through a minute later and seemed to have the beating of Stefan Savic only to go to ground as he attempted to get past Savic. Savic was already on a booking but Torres was penalised instead. Moments later referee Kevin Friend sent off Branislav Ivanovic for a flying tackle with studs up on Aleksandar Kolarov.
Torres seemed to have regained a modicum of confidence since the departure of Didier Drogba but Yaya Toure levelled matters 8 minutes into the second half when he latched on to John Terry’s poor clearance from James Milner’s deflected cross and beat Cech with a thunderbolt of a shot.
Carlos Tevez, looking fit again, put City into the lead five minutes later and showed everyone at Villa Park just how much he had put into the pre-season by holding off David Luiz and putting a rocket into Chelsea’s goal while running along the edge of the area. The Argentine striker revealed a t-shirt underneath his shirt, marked Fuerte Apache, the name of the neighbourhood of Buenos Aires in which he came from.
Aleksandar Kolarov’s cross to Nasri was volleyed in with aplomb in the 65th minute as City began to exert their numerical superiority with their third goal in 12 minutes.
Ryan Bertrand poached a goal for Chelsea with ten minutes to go after Costel Pantilimon spilled Daniel Sturridge’s effort.
Ramires could have been sent off for a second yellow card for body checking David Silva in injury time but the referee was charitable and there was no doubt over who deserved to win the game.
The win is the first step towards a campaign in which City will hope to retain the Premier League title while making inroads in the Champions League.
An undisclosed offer for Everton’s Jack Rodwell, rated at £15m, was accepted prior to the Community Shield and represents City’s first foray into the transfer market during the close season. Manager Roberto Mancini has made no secret of his frustration at the lack of movement in the transfer market with City linked to a variety of players and unable to shift many of their own players this summer.
To this end, City’s switch to a 3-5-2 or 3-4-1-2 formation in pre-season seems to be tailored to fit many of their existing players. With a lack of attacking width available up front City’s strikers often seemed isolated last season. The new increasingly Italian style formation makes more use of City’s attackers, including Mario Balotelli, David Silva and Samir Nasri, who mainly prefer a more central role.
With 2 straightforward strikers it’s easy to see that more game time will be possible for the likes of Edin Dzeko and Mario Balotelli as they compete with Sergio Aguero and Carlos Tevez although Adam Johnson could get a a look-in as an impact player in a forward role. Mancini has been linked with many forwards over the summer but the options seem to be receding as Ezequiel Lavezzi went to Paris St Germain and Robin Van Persie declared his preference for Juventus or Manchester United over City. City’s inability to sell off unwanted forwards Emmanuel Adebayor and Roque Santa Cruz may be a factor in their lack of forward signings this summer.
Importantly, the advanced midfielder who plays behind the two strikers may come down to a straight choice between Samir Nasri and David Silva although there may be benefits in rotating the workload of the two creative midfielders in 2013.
Mancini’s system needs three central defenders and pushes the full backs further up the pitch to join midfield and provide width with the extra defensive cover at the back. Being allowed licence to raid from midfield suits players like Aleksandar Kolarov and Micah Richards even though their delivery from wide positions may have fallen below the standards set by Mancini.
City’s central defence options have looked somewhat threadbare at times, especially during City’s mid season wobble when first choice defenders Joleon Lescott and Vincent Kompany were injured while Kolo Toure was away in Africa and Stefan Savic looked inexperienced. With three defenders required Mancini may opt to use a midfielder as a sweeper but it’s clear that the defence needs bolstering too. To this end, Mancini has been seeking defensive players who are happy in midfield or defence. Rodwell’s signing indicates that City are bolstering their defensive options in support of this tactic.
An offer has been made for Liverpool’s Daniel Agger who has shown promise in central defence but has had an injury hit Anfield career. With question marks over the future of Nigel de Jong and injury to Gareth Barry in midfield it’s no surprise that Mancini has been pushing for additional players such as Roma’s Daniele de Rossi who can do a job both in defence and in midfield.