Manchester United striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored the winning goal as the Red Devils enjoyed a 2-1 victory over Leicester City in the Community Shield final, but it masked an anonymous performance that many critics predicted of the former Swedish international.
Despite contributing little in regard to general play, he got the goal that mattered, and Ibrahimovic could well repeat the feat over the course of the coming campaign.
Ibrahimovic was afforded little time on the ball in dangerous areas
Leicester City were a tough opponent for Zlatan Ibrahimovic as the Foxes looked well-drilled and fit for the new season. The former Paris Saint-Germain centre-forward is used to being given respect by his opponent to dictate the play, but the Leicester defenders were snapping at his heels instantly.
It meant Ibrahimovic was reduced to one-touch football when coming deep in possession, limiting was effectiveness at Wembley. His lack of pace and athleticism means he’s unable to draw a defender in deep and spin away into the gap left and it played into Leicester’s hands.
The Foxes are more than happy to embark in a physical battle, especially considering they have Robert Huth and Wes Morgan at the heart of their defence. But the one time Ibrahimovic won a duel off one of the defenders, it resulted in a goal. He headed home an Antonio Valencia cross late in the game above the towering Morgan, winning his side silverware without impressing.
Ruthless in front of goal
The Manchester United new-boy isn’t likely to dazzle supporters by taking on defenders or breaching the offside trap in a counter attack, but he will score goals if he gets the ball in dangerous areas. His excessive strength allows him to work an opening in the penalty area, and his powerful finishing technique means goalkeepers stand little chance of keeping his efforts out.
His aerial superiority and power also makes him a real threat from crosses, as shown in the Community Shield, so he does always have a way of scoring without needing to be heavy involved in the build-up. Ibrahimovic is likely to make the lowest amount of touches for any United outfield player in most games, but he could well continue scoring goals if he gets the ball in the right areas.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic is 8/1 to finish as the Premier League top goalscorer this season, but how will he fare in his maiden Premier League campaign?