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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 22 August 2018

Ilkay Gundogan ready for new season after Manchester City pass 'great test' against Chelsea

German midfielder describes Aguero as an 'incredible striker' after the Argentine reached his double century of goals for the Premier League champions

Ilkay Gundogan celebrates winning the Community Shield. Reuters
Ilkay Gundogan celebrates winning the Community Shield. Reuters

German midfielder Ilkay Gundogan has said it is difficult to predict how prepared Manchester City are for the start of the Premier League season, but believes Sunday's Community Shield win over Chelsea "was a great test".

Pep Guardiola's men begin their title defence at Arsenal on Sunday, looking to back-up a record-breaking campaign that saw them amass 100 points to win the league by a 19-point margin from Manchester United.

City, like so many teams this summer, have seen their pre-season preparations take place without a number of senior players due to their involvement in the World Cup in Russia.

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Even the 2-0 victory at Wembley against Chelsea saw the likes of Kevin de Bruyne, David Silva, Ederson, and Raheem Sterling miss out.

Gundogan, who also returned late for pre-season following his World Cup campaign with Germany, believes beating a "strong" Chelsea side has helped the side with last-minute preparations.

"It was not easy for us, but most importantly we tried to do our job, to do what the manager expects," Gundogan told City's website. "The goals were well built up – the way we played was excellent. Overall it was a great performance and a well-deserved win.

"I wasn’t surprised, just curious about the way we would start the game and how it would go. We know that Chelsea are a very strong team, especially with this manager who did a great job at Napoli – and we played them in the Champions League last year as well.

"We knew what to expect and we knew it was going to be tough, especially with the weather – it was surprisingly very hot. We did a great job and fully deserved to win and it was a very good start to the season for us.

"I wouldn't say that it was necessary to give us confidence, but the first weeks when the season starts, the important games start, you never really know what to expect. You don't really know 100 per cent on which level you are.

"It was a great test for us, a last test before the Premier League season. At the end we feel ready right now and we can't wait for the season to start."

While a host of first-team regulars were rested, Sergio Aguero showed no ill-effects from Argentina's disappointing World Cup to fire both goals to take his tally to 201 for City.

When asked if Aguero was the best striker he has ever played with, Gundogan said: “I have played with [Robert] Lewandowski as well and he is also a world class striker but I think they are both on an incredible level.

"It’s very tough to compare these sort of strikers because they are just incredible and they can score out of nothing.

"I have said it many times before, we are very lucky to have Sergio in our team – and on top of that, even Gabriel [Jesus] with his ability and his quality. So we have two great strikers."

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