Liverpool faces the Top 6 in their first 12 English Premier League (EPL) games, so they must start the season more griffin than sparrow. Yesterday, at Wembley, we saw evidence they are up for it, in an entertaining FA Community Shield.
Liverpool was the better team, but it was Manchester City who won the match after their seventh consecutive penalty shootout win. The game ended 1-1 in normal time.
Liverpool lined up as if the summer had never happened. City included new €70m signing Rodri, and there was a start for Leroy Sané with Bayern Munich whispers still in the air. The biggest surprise was the lack of central striker with Gabriel Jesus, and Sergio Agüero both benched after Copa America duty.
One of the ingredients of Man City’s success last term was the sheer volume of goals scored in the opening 15-minutes, and the stats continued ticking after Raheem Sterling struck in 12.
Kyle Walker floated a diagonal free-kick to Oleksandr Zinchenko. The Ukranian star headed across goal, David Silva flicked it on, and the predatory-like Sterling was on hand to slip the ball under Alisson’s large frame.
It was the first time Sterling had scored against his former club. The fans that used to bathe him in a raucous roar poured filth on him from start to finish. So, it was a touch of quality when he walked over to the Liverpool end at the end of the match to sign autographs and take selfies.
Back to the match, and Liverpool put in a second-half performance labelled ‘powerful’ by Jürgen Klopp. As the game entered the final 15-minutes, the City players looked like they were sinking in the sand, as Liverpool waltzed past them with ease.
Liverpool’s impressive display came with a goal. It occurred in the 77th-minute when Jöel Matip headed in from close range, after Virgil van Dijk’s cute centre.
The Frenchman’s head sent the game to penalties, but with a tad more luck, Liverpool would have buried this game. Mohamed Salah, in particular, looked razor-sharp. The Egyptian struck the post twice and saw a header cleared from the goal line in an acrobatic move by Kyle Walker reserved for Cirque du Soleil shows.
But penalties it was, and City seems to be the new Germany when it comes to these things.
Only one penalty failed to hit the back of the net, and that unwanted stat fell to Georgino Wijnaldum, who struck tamely at Claudio Bravo. Gabriel Jesus stepped up to win the game for City, the second FA Community Shield win in successive years.
Next up, the Premier League.
Premier League Fixtures
Liverpool v Norwich
West Ham v Man City
Crystal Palace v Everton
Burnley v Southampton
Watford v Brighton
Bournemouth v Sheff Utd
Spurs v Aston Villa
Leicester v Wolves
Newcastle v Arsenal
Man Utd v Chelsea
Man City 1/2
Man Utd 40/1