Chelsea rounded off a difficult pre-season with a fourth straight defeat, surrendering the Community Shield to Manchester United.
Carlo Ancelotti sent out a strong side at Wembley, with only Cech, Drogba and arguably Alex the only first teamers missing.
In a break with tradition it was a relatively lively start chances at both ends. Whilst Valencia and Scholes failed for United, Ivanovic forced a brilliant full stretch save from Van Der Sar at the other end.
Had he kept a cooler head Saloman Kalou could’ve put Chelsea in front when he pounced on a parry from the United keeper but then rushed his cross come shot, leaving it out of the reach of the arriving Michael Essien.
But what was perhaps the most concerning feature of the game was how The Blues failed to convert their possession into chances, United looking the more threatening with the ball.
Indeed it was the League runners-up who took the lead, Scholes clipped the ball into Rooney’s path, and the frontman’s first time cross was slotted home by Valencia. Annoyingly it was a good move, and one Ancelotti’s side couldn’t deal with.
Surprisingly the Italian made no changes at half time, instead opting to give the likes of eventual subs Anelka and Malouda more playing time.
Sadly without the changes Chelsea couldn’t change their luck, Essien curled wide, while Kalou and Ashley Cole could only fire straight at Van Der Sar.
Chelsea then did change things, with Drogba, the impressive Sturridge and debutant Yossi Benayoun all coming on, however United stole a second to all but put the game to bed.
New Boy Javier Hernandez was somewhat fortuitous to see his effort smash off his own face and into the net.
It was maybe tough on the Blues, but the casual defensive work at times was playing into United’s hands.
Whilst the game had been played at a pedestrian pace up to this point, suddenly a game threatened to break out as Sturridge started causing havoc down the left, firstly wasting a glorious one-on-one chance, then forcing a parry from Van Der Sar, allowing Kalou to slide home the rebound.
Suddenly the Champions were banging on the door, with the ball hardly leaving the United half. Drogba hit the side netting from a tight angle and red shirts seemed to be scrambling it away every 20 seconds before in stoppage time, and playing keep-ball, Berbatov got the better of Bruma and chipped Hilario to kill Chelsea’s fight back.
There’s no doubt Ancelotti can take some positives from the game, improved fitness and passing being the most obvious. However, lack of goals and some more dodgy defending won’t have pleased the boss. Ashley Cole in particular had his first bad game in well over a year, and this affected the rest of the back four.
But at this stage it would be foolish to let doom and gloom set in, as one thing is for sure, come next weekend, The Champions will be fit and ready to defend their crown.
Chelsea: Hilario, Ferreira (Bruma 78), Ivanovic, Terry, Cole (Zhirkov 78), Essien, Mikel (Drogba 59), Lampard, Kalou, Anelka (Sturridge 59), Malouda (Benayoun 72)
Man Utd: Van der Sar, O’Shea, Vidic, Evans, Fabio (Smalling 70), Valencia, Scholes (Giggs 79), Carrick (Fletcher 79), Park (Nani H-T), Rooney (Hernandez H-T), Owen (Berbatov H-T)