Chelsea kicked off their pre-season friendly schedule on Saturday with a comfortable and thumping 6-1 win over Peterborough United at Cobham.
Thomas Tuchel fielded 22 players during the behind closed doors match at the Blues’ training ground on a baking hot day as the players got their first match minutes for six weeks with a week of training under their belts as well.
Hakim Ziyech rattled in a second half hat trick after his introduction while Christian Pulisic, Armando Broja and Tammy Abraham were also on target after the Posh had taken an early lead through Siriki Dembele’s penalty.
Not much is read into pre-season friendlies and managers often say that the results don’t matter but Tuchel will have been pleased to get the friendlies off to a flying start, players finding the net and also getting the chance to run the rule over the returning loan players and some youngsters.
Chelsea head off to Ireland next week for a week-long training camp in Dublin, where they are expected to play another friendly before returning to England and taking on Bournemouth in their third pre-season game on July 27.
But who made the biggest impression in the first friendly game of the summer on Tuchel as he plots who will make up his squad to de-throne Manchester City at the top of the domestic game and to defend the Blues’ Champions League crown?
Perhaps an obvious one but the player who stood out most from the result is the Moroccan, who netted a treble – all from inside the box – to get the Blues rolling.
Ziyech had a hit and miss campaign in 2020/21 having joined the club from Ajax, finding himself in the team for stretches but then having to settle for a spot on the bench.
He netted only twice in the Premier League last season and Tuchel will want to add more goals to his side, hence being in the market for a new striker this summer.
But, if he can find some goals already in his squad, then it makes life a bit easier for the German head coach heading into the new season.
Ziyech was linked with a move away from Stamford Bridge this summer but that seems highly unlikely. Ziyech got his pre-season off to a fine start by banging in a second half hat trick on Saturday to get his shooting boots in gear early doors.
The young striker is expected to pen a new long-term contract in west London in the coming days, bucking the trend somewhat after Marc Guehi, Tino Livramento, Lewis Bate and Myles Peart-Harris all snubbed fresh terms at the club.
Following a good loan spell away at Vitesse Arnhem last season where the Albanian scored 11 times, hopes are high at Cobham he can now make the transition from academy to senior side in Blue.
He got off to a fine start on Saturday, netting once and also setting up a goal for hat-trick hero Ziyech.
With Chelsea chasing a new striker this summer and yet to make their move, it is a chance for Broja to step up and impress Tuchel. While he’d unlikely go into a Premier League starting line up, the 19-year-old can prove his a capable second or third option for Tuchel, especially with Olivier Giroud having left the club for AC Milan.
Like Broja, another striker was off the mark in pre-season on Saturday and it was Abraham as he cancelled out Dembele’s opener.
A lot is being talked about Abraham’s future at the club having failed to establish himself as a regular under Tuchel through a combination of injury and form.
Also like Broja, Abraham has got off to a good start in pre-season having been one of the first players to report back for training last Friday.
Abraham will want to prove to Tuchel that he can be the striker the head coach wants for the upcoming season and that leaving him out of the FA Cup final and Champions League final squads should only be a one time thing.
Source by Football London