The FA Community shield match took place between the Premier League winner, Leicester City and the FA Cup winners, Manchester United, and when the winners clash, excitement is guaranteed and after an exciting game indeed, the match ended at 2-1 with Manchester United coming out in front to win the Community Shield for the 21st time (including the 4 shared)
Things got off pretty neatly for Manchester United as they went in with an “all out attack” mentality, something that the team had been missing for the past two years, the right side was involved much more than the left and that’s why we saw a lot more of Antonio Valencia initially instead of Martial, who popped up every now and then but not often enough. Leicester were on the defensive for most of the first half and launched an 4attack once in a while, which tested the back four of United much more than David de Gea himself.
It was however, in these moments that speculation rose over new signing Eric Bailly’s style of play, he allowed the ball to pass from between his legs early on in the game and was a lot more physical, which wasn’t always for the better. He did, however, seem to settle down around the 20th minute and made some good tackles and interceptions to keep a fierce combination of Jamie Vardy and Shinji Okazaki at bay with the help of the technical ability of Daley Blind.
The game was goalless for majority of the first half but by no means was it boring, attacks were being launched on both ends and while United had a slight upper hand in terms of possession and even passing at times, it was fairly well balanced. The breakthrough came in the 32nd minute as Jesse Lingard dribbled past 4 Leicester players to score for the second time at Wembley. The game carried on in its regular, ping-pong like fashion, but the half ended at 1-0.
There was a reason why Ranieri won the league with Leicester last season, his inspiration and technical ability as a manager, and that’s probably what he used in the dressing room at half time because as soon as they came on, Leicester City went full power ahead. I seriously feel United weren’t expecting that. In addition to the added flair, there was added pace and youth in Ahmed Musa, the new signing, who scored twice in his last game for the club.
It was indeed a delight to see Musa run across the field with the ball, and when he didn’t have that, he would use his his pace to apply pressure on the opposition. In one such instance, Marouanne Fellaini had won the ball but realised that Musa was running right behind him, his hasty pass simply lacked power and was easy enough for Jamie Vardy to pick up, slide way past de Gea and score the equaliser. Leicester’s hopes of winning were at an all time high.
The goal was indeed a confidence booster as we saw a lot more of the foxes in the second half, United tried a lot but seldom disturbed Kasper Schmeichel, who was doing a pretty good job as a goalkeeper himself, not so much as a saviour but as a person who came out and took that risk to deflect airborne balls to his teammates.
The match never became tasteless as both teams tried very hard to score but neither was successful, Leicester’s foot was still on the gas but it was never enough on their end to get the ball behind. United on the other hand, seemed much more relaxed and sloppy at times, especially the captain, Wayne Rooney, by the end of it, he was exceptionally sloppy, giving away cheap balls and shooting unnecessarily, it just wasn’t his day.
Jusr when we thought that the match would go to penalties, Zlatan Ibrahimovic stepped up, or jumped up rather, over Wes Morgan to deflect Valencia’s cross into the far corner to give United a late lead, a lead they had to protect for 7 minutes. These 7 minutes were the most entertaining minutes of an already entertaining match, it was full of set pieces as Leicester gave it all they had to score another equaliser. We saw Schmeichel come up for a first corner, but his presence wasn’t much of a worry for the defence. It was in the second corner that was sent towards him and while he dreamed of scoring a goal, much like his father back in the day, David de Gea had other plans.
All in all, Schmeichel fell over, de Gea caught the ball, gave it to Zlatan, who made the run towards the half line and the referee blew the whistle. Manchester United had won the Community Shield for the 21st time.
Manchester Untied were better in the first half, and in the final moments of the second half, for the rest of it, they weren’t dominating and weren’t the centre of attention if you will, I believe they could have dominated and dictated the game had it not been for that clumsy pass by Fellaini. Lingard and Zlatan were quite impressive today, the former in my opinion has made a place in the team for himself after scoring in the FA Cup final and in this match while the latter was of course, at his best whenever the ball came to him, but wasn’t able to link up with Wayne Rooney well, especially in the second half. I would really like to see Mata or Mkhitaryan in a centre forward position in one of the matches for a longer period of time.
Leicester fans should not be sad that they lost, they were by no means bad today, they gave it their all and sometimes even that isn’t enough. After a slow and dull first half on their end, they really stepped up their game and that was quite interesting to see. I would expect a lot more of the second half performance in the coming season, other than that, there’s not a lot to speak of.
Images : Manchester Evening News, Telegraph