Jack Grealish’s first trophy with Manchester City will have to wait. Two days after officially joining the reigning English Premier League champions from Aston Villa on a British transfer record deal of $139 million, Grealish and his new club lost the Community Shield to Leicester City 1-0 on a last-minute penalty-kick goal.
The spot kick was converted by Leicester City forward Kelechi Iheanacho, who was also the player who drew the foul in the box. Man City center back Nathan Ake was guilty of the infraction after he was caught on the ball by the Nigerian forward.
Grealish came into the match when it was still 0-0 in the 65th minute, but could not help his team find a breakthrough. Here’s how he did, along with other key takeaways:
Grealish quiet on debut
His 25-minute second-half sub appearance in place of left winger Samuel Edozie was just enough time to get his feet wet with his new teammates. He didn’t do much else. Grealish’s game was mainly simple, short passes to teammates out on the left flank. He sent a through ball into the box for Bernardo Silva and late in the game, with his team down 1-0, made an incursion into the heart of the penalty area, but was bumped off the ball before he could get a shot off.
Here’s his full statistical snapshot from SofaScore following the match:
- Minutes: 25
- Touches: 25
- Passing accuracy: 94 percent (15 of 16)
- Key passes: 1
- Big chances created: 1
- Successful dribbles: 1 of 4 attempts
- Duels won: 1 of 7 duels
- Possessions lost: 7
This was exactly the type of match he was brought in to help resolve this season: His dribbling and creativity is supposed to help break down opponents that are well-structured defensively. But Grealish didn’t attempt anything all too daring in his first appearance and didn’t take on many Leicester players one-on-one.
Cameras captured him chatting with left back Benjamin Mendy after the final whistle and it looked like a chat meant to get the two on the same page. There are plenty of those that will be happening prior to Saturday’s Premier League opener at Tottenham.
Steffen was the star of the game
The American goalkeeper was the starter with regular No. 1 Ederson and other Man City starters who were involved in the Euros and Copa America still working their way back into the squad. But he took full advantage and was arguably the best player on the field for his team.
Steffen was incredibly cool under pressure with his passing out of his own box, and had a variety of stops that showed off his range and skill set as a world-class ‘keeper: two stops on his line, two at the edge of the penalty box, one save from point-blank range and then another on a patented reflex kick save that sent a Leicester shot off the post and out. Here was his stat box:
- Minutes: 90
- Saves: 4
- Touches: 30
- Clearances: 1
- Passing Accuracy: 93% (13 of 14)
Steffen also guessed correctly on the penalty kick by Iheanacho, but it was at just the right height to get past his outstretched hands.
It was as if Steffen wanted to remind all the U.S. national team fans who still is No. 1 in the USMNT pecking order after all the hype around Nations League star Ethan Horvath and Gold Cup standout Matt Turner.
Man City lineup vs. Leicester City (4-3-3, left to right): Steffen-GK — Mendy, Ake, Dias, Cancelo — Gundogan (65’ Rodri), Fernandinho, Palmer (74’ Silva) — Edozie (65’ Grealish), Torres (74’ Knight), Mahrez
Leicester means business again this season
After consecutive fifth-place finishes in the English Premier League (top 10 in each of the last four campaigns) and an FA Cup trophy last year, the lovable underdog tag finally has to be shed at some point by the Foxes. This is a strong team that got stronger this offseason and should be a contender in Europe and on the domestic front.
They beat Chelsea for the FA Cup back in May and beat a Manchester City team for the Community Shield (granted, a very short-handed Manchester City team). But they did it with a playing style that can be effective against the Big Six and it’s one they’ve grown accustomed to by now under manager Brendan Rodgers. It is predicated on a commitment to defense and quick transitions into the attack.
The newcomers are also slotting right in: Ryan Bertrand started the match at left back, electric forward Patson Daka partnered with Iheanacho in a 4-4-2 late in the second half, and ex-Lille man Boubakary Soumare looked comfortable in midfield alongside Wilfried Ndidi.
Leicester City has a great chance to get off to a strong start in the league and make a strong statement about its ambitions this year after missing out on Champions League qualification for two years in a row. The Foxes host Man City, Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea in the toughest of their first 12 matches. Those head-to-head battles will go a long way toward telling us how high the Foxes can climb this year. They open at home against Wolves on Matchday 1.
Leicester City lineup vs. Man City (4-2-3-1, left to right): Schmeichel-GK — Bertrand (78’ Thomas), Soyunco, Amartey, Ricardo — Ndidi, Tielemans (71’ Soumare) — Barnes (78’ Iheanacho), Maddison (71’ Dewsbury-Hall), Ayoze (71’ Albrighton) — Vardy (71’ Daka)