In Depth

Pep Guardiola: six teams could be in the Premier League title race

Man City boss predicts tough competition as they aim for their third title in a row

FA Community Shield Liverpool 1 Manchester City 1 (City win 5-4 on penalties)

Manchester City have drawn first blood in the new football season by beating Liverpool in a penalty shoot-out in the FA Community Shield, the sixth time they have won the trophy.

The Wembley crowd was treated to a lively curtain-raiser to the new season as the Premier League champions edged out the Champions League winners. 

Raheem Sterling put the Sky Blues ahead on 12 minutes - his first ever goal against his old club - when he latched onto David Silva’s flick-on. England forward Sterling almost scored a second after the break but his effort rattled a post.

Reds reply

Liverpool, playing in their 22nd Community Shield, levelled 13 minutes from time when Joel Matip headed home Virgil van Dijk’s cross. This was just reward for the Reds, who had also hit the post through Mohamed Salah and Van Dijk. 

Salah looked to have sealed victory for Liverpool but his header was dramatically cleared off the line by Kyle Walker’s spectacular bicycle kick.

Walker’s crisp clearance

That intervention took the contest to penalties and the first player to crack was Georginio Wijnaldum, whose effort was saved by City keeper Claudio Bravo. 

Gabriel Jesus then kept his nerve to strike the ball past Alisson and make sure the Community Shield remained in City’s trophy cabinet. 

“It’s the first trophy you can win… it starts off the season and hopefully we can replicate what we did last season,” said Walker. 

Asked about his astonishing goalline clearance, he replied: “I’m a defender, I stop goals, I’m glad I can help the team out this time.”

Football’s the winner

City boss Pep Guardiola and Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp both expressed their satisfaction with the performance of their teams. 

Describing it as an “incredible final from both sides”, Guardiola said: “It was a good test for both teams. It’s nice for the players to realise what they will face this season. At this level the difference is nothing.” 

Klopp was also upbeat, telling reporters: “I cannot be disappointed today. The performance was much more important today than a win. We know we are still here, we can still play proper football.”

Six-horse race for the title?

While City and Liverpool will be expected to continue their fight at the top of the Premier League table Guardiola has also not written off the chances of Manchester United, Tottenham, Chelsea and Arsenal. 

City will be gunning for three titles in a row and Guardiola predicts another close finish. Last season City beat Liverpool by just a point, but rival clubs have spent big in the summer transfer window, which closes on Thursday.

Arsenal have spent £72m on Nicolas Pepe while Manchester United are expected to complete the £80m signing of Harry Maguire from Leicester.

Guardiola said: “I don’t know if it’ll be like last season with two real contenders to win the Premier League. 

“I think United, with [Harry] Maguire, and the others have bought – Arsenal as well and Chelsea and Tottenham. So I think there will be many contenders this time.

“United will be back, Arsenal, Tottenham, Chelsea - I don’t know what will happen.”

What the pundits said about the Community Shield

Jonathan Wilson in The Guardian: “If there is a lesson to be drawn, it is that last season may not be a blip, that there really may not be much between Manchester City and Liverpool.”

Henry Winter in The Times: “The rivalry between the sides was loud and clear. It was as though the elite of English football had never been away, as if the summer had never been.”

Martin Keown in the Daily Mail: “This had a competitive edge to it. There were plenty of physical battles and it was a mouth-watering look ahead to what we will see from City and Liverpool this season.”

Manchester City are back-to-back Premier League champions

Premier League fixtures: matchday one

Friday 9 August 
  • Liverpool vs. Norwich City (8pm, live on Sky Sports
Saturday 10 August (3pm unless stated) 
  • West Ham United vs. Manchester City (12.30pm, live on BT Sport)  
  • Bournemouth vs. Sheffield United  
  • Burnley vs. Southampton  
  • Crystal Palace vs. Everton  
  • Watford vs. Brighton and Hove Albion  
  • Tottenham Hotspur vs. Aston Villa (5.30pm, live on Sky Sports)
Sunday 11 August 
  • Leicester City vs. Wolverhampton Wanderers (2pm) 
  • Newcastle United vs. Arsenal (2pm, live on Sky Sports) 
  • Manchester United vs. Chelsea (4.30pm, live on Sky Sports)

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