No filter, all you need to know before we begin our pre-season preparations in earnest, against the mighty Sounders. More, after the jump.
CHAMPIONS OF EUROPE.
Right, now that we're past the obvious, we've got work to do. Amidst the celebrations this summer, Chelsea have set out on a course to reshape the squad through a series of transactions, the majority of which remain pending. Jack already posted the latest we're hearing on Oscar, which if true promises to be an outstanding addition to the squad. Elsewhere, Chelsea have acquired the impressive Eden Hazard and oft-underrated Marko Marin. This fleet of tiny wingers will likely be featuring heavily during the coming weeks, as the club balance the time allotted to those who served their countries in Euro 2012, and the Olympics. It's very likely, therefore, that Chelsea will be using a young mixture of players that many of us have hoped would get chances to demonstrate their abilities for some time. Players like Josh McEachran, Sam Hutchinson, Romelu Lukaku, Gael Kakuta, and others on the fringes will be called into action. Before I go any further, I need to remind everyone that this is a pre-season fixture that has no bearing or consequence whatsoever on how the season develops. It's simply about fitness and establishing a rhythm.
Who: Seattle Sounders F.C.
What: Preseason Friendlies
When: Wednesday, 18 July, 6:30pm PST (9:30pm EST)
Where: CenturyLink Field (38,500)
How: ESPN2 (DirecTV 208, Dish Network 144)
Why: Well, it would be nice to win, but I really could care less. This is about giving the kids a chance to ball out, letting some of the senior starts get a cameo, giving the fans what they want, and yes, just having some fun. For Seattle, this obviously means a lot more- a chance to test their skills against some of the finest players in the world. For Chelsea, meh. But still, you know, we should support them and whatnot. These American tours are, in effect, an exercise in team building more than anything. Di Matteo has put the squad through a tremendous amount of ball work early in camp, with two-a-day sessions to get their minds focused ahead of the marathon season that awaits us. It would be wise, therefore, to see us put those lessons in action tomorrow.
It's difficult to speculate who might be fielded in a starting lineup for Chelsea. There will be a lot of substitutions, as is standard for a friendly, and minutes will certainly be monitored. Still, expect the aforementioned players, along with Frank Lampard, David Luiz, Gary Cahill, and Branislav Ivanovic to feature prominently. Last season, on our tour of Asia, AVB used the trip to test a number of different formations out, and stumbled upon our now beloved 4-2-3-1 shape. It will be interesting to see if we are privy to any new schematics in the Chelsea setup. I'd doubt major changes are afoot, but it will give an insight into how Di Matteo expects to improve on last year.
That's it for now friends. Tune in, crack a beer, and enjoy the show.