I'm not using this post to talk about the tactics we should use. I'm not going to talk the personnel we should see. I'm certainly not going to talk about the value of a win, as i don't feel it has any. Frankly, I'm just not concerning myself too much with any of these things. After all, the game is a friendly. While the "winner" gets a shiny silver plate to display until next June, it doesn't really count. Win, we start the season on zero points. Lose, we start the season on zero points. The game is insignificant enough that we won't even see extra time despite having a whopping 7 substitutions available.
That doesn't mean that this game doesn't have value, because in some ways it does. With a week to go until the season, it's a great chance to get out on the pitch against quality opponents. City are a bit banged up already, but a squad with that depth can't help but run out 11 good players. This is a chance for our first teamers to get a solid run against what should be a very serious challenger for real silverware next season. There are a few things I'll be looking for, and I've listed them below the jump.
- What shapes do we use? Pre-season games are a great time to experiment, and tomorrow is a pre-season game. I'd expect over the course of the game we'll see a few different basic shapes employed. It's a look at what we might be thinking at points this season, so there is a little to be gained from that.
- Where are players employed on the pitch? Roles in the various formations will vary during the season, and we have a lot of versatile players. What we do tomorrow (or today for some of you) won't be a set in stone lineup for the season, but seeing where some of these guys drift and end up will reflect on what's going on in training.
- The transition from defense to attack will be worth watching. There are many new parts in the attack, so it's going to take some time to get everyone on the same page. Seeing how we're looking to approach it will be more useful than examining the results.
- How are our players moving? How tired do they look late in the game? For many, this has been an abbreviated pre-season. Fitness may still be an issue. We have another week and a weaker first real opponent, but seeing how players appear to be getting around as the game progresses will be worth watching.
- Defensive pressure is something to note. We've been trying to force the ball wide for most of the pre-season. Fernando Torres and Daniel Sturridge are keys to this at the point of attack, and we've barely seen them yet. Once again, I don't care how it works but I want to see if it's still a focus.
Look, however this game goes, afterwards we're going to see the fanbase overreact. Win, and Chelsea will be an unstoppable force that will surely conquer all. Lose, and it's the first major crisis of the season. Hopefully those of you participating in the gamethread and after-party will be reasonable and keep in mind that this is a tuneup. Yes, this is the last tuneup before we get underway, but it's still just a tuneup for the actual, real games. Relax and enjoy this one without worrying about the result, and cross your fingers that we don't suffer any injuries. We don't have many chances to do that with Chelsea.