It was behind the closed gates at Cobham that Chelsea got their pre-season campaign underway this afternoon against Championship side Peterborough United.
The friendly was very much a high-intensity training session. It was not streamed on the club’s channels nor are highlights expected to be uploaded. The only tangible evidence it even happened is via photographs.
Thomas Tuchel was expected to use the game to run the rule over the majority of Chelsea’s first-team group that reported back to Cobham at the start of the week. And that proved the case.
Tuchel started with an experienced side, one that contained the likes of Marcos Alonso, Ross Barkley, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Tammy Abraham, and then introduced an entirely different XI after the interval.
What was particularly noteworthy, however, was the shape Tuchel settled on in the opening period. Going into the summer, there was a belief the German would tinker with his formation and try something a little different, perhaps even a four-man defence.
Instead, he went with the same 3-4-2-1 shape that resulted in Chelsea finishing in the top four last season and winning the Champions League.
Jamie Cumming, the 21-year-old goalkeeper who spent last season on loan at Stevenage Borough, was between the posts for the first half. Edouard Mendy and Kepa Arrizabalga have trained throughout the week but the decision was taken for the senior goalkeepers to have the day off.
The back three, football.london believes, was made up of Jake Clarke-Salter, Trevoh Chalobah and Malang Sarr, who is now expected to take part in Chelsea’s entire pre-season after France decided against taking the centre-back to the Olympic Games.
In the two wing-back roles were Davide Zappacosta and Alonso. Barkley and Danny Drinkwater were in the centre of midfield while Christian Pulisic, Hudson-Odoi and Abraham made up the attack.
Despite the experience in the Chelsea starting XI, the Blues fell behind after Siriki Dembele converted from the penalty spot.
Yet Abraham, whose future remains uncertain after he played only 17 minutes during the final three months of last season, equalised for the Blues before Pulisic netted from the spot after being felled.
As expected before the game, Tuchel rotated his entire outfield cast at the break. Academy graduates Dujon Sterling, Ian Maatsen, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Lewis Baker, Conor Gallagher, Ike Ugbo and Armando Broja all featured in the second period, as did Hakim Ziyech, Matt Miazga and Baba Rahman.
Finland-born academy goalkeeper Lucas Bergstrom was also given match action, with the 18-year-old introduced from the bench on the hour mark. Charly Musonda did not feature.
Ziyech added Chelsea’s third after the break after good work from Baba Rahman and then fired home after Borja teed up. The Morocco international added his third from inside the penalty area soon after Broja had struck Chelsea’s fifth of the game.
The first-team squad will have tomorrow off before returning to Cobham on Monday for Covid testing and a double training session.
They will then fly out to Ireland on Tuesday for a week-long training camp in Dublin before returning to England and facing Bournemouth in a pre-season game at the Vitality Stadium.
Do you want an exclusive pre-season Chelsea preview – both in your inbox and through your letterbox? Head over here to find out more and secure your copy!
Source by Football London