Chelsea's first pre-season game is over and, while the result wasn't important, the game helped us learn a few things regarding the squad. And the returning Jose. Here are 10 random thoughts from the game:
- As of now, Chelsea brought in two new players in the form of Van Ginkel and Schurrle. Good forward thinking by the people behind the scenes meant there were actually five other 'new' players in the squad. Kalas, Lukaku and De Bruyne returning from their impressive loan spells around Europe. Also, Essien. And Wallace. Michael Emenalo deserves a lot of credit for this. He's been doing good work in terms of bringing in new players and sorting out loan deals for others. Long may it continue.
- With Kalas back at Chelsea, do not expect the club to sign any defenders this season. We now have eight defenders at the club, enough depth to last an entire season. Or, till January atleast. Any links to 'child prodigies' and 'next big things' can be ignored.
- Of all the new players, Wallace impressed the most. He was not without faults but he looks promising. As Mourinho has since confirmed, he'll be going out on loan for this season. A good loan spell with lots of game time under his belt will (probably) help him get a work permit next season and a domestic loan maybe. [Roma have signed Maicon from Man City, so that rumour can be ignored.]
- With Mourinho's return, a lot has been spoken about formations and players. But if his time at Inter Milan and Real Madrid was anything to go by, Mourinho does not mind using a player in the 'No.10' position to good effect. Sneijder and Ozil will testify to that. And with the boss agreeing that the squad currently as many players who can play that role, expect Chelsea to play a majority of the games using a 4-2-3-1.
- Auditioning for the lone striker's role, Lukaku showed flashes of brilliance and maturity. Compared to last year's pre-season, he was more vocal and demanding of those around him. A season under Steve Clarke has brought out the good in him. His link up play was good and was also trying to create opportunities for those around him. I like what I saw. Oh, and, how good was the penalty?!?!
- Lampard's injury meant that Ramires played the entire game, changing partners at half time. While he is a fantastic player, Ramires suits a 4-3-3 more than a 4-2-3-1. If and when Mourinho decides to use 4-3-3 for a game, expect Ramires to be the first name on the team sheet. A proper box to box player with bundles of energy.
- Of the 21 players to appear on the pitch, Piazon looked invisible. He kept things simple when he had possession and maybe the hype about him got to my head, but I do expect him to be more 'flashy' than he was. With Chelsea having enough numbers to start another long season, a De Bruyne-esque loan move must surely be around the corner. I hope.
- Mata. Hazard. Oscar. Schurrle. De Bruyne. That's Chelsea strength in depth for the three spots between the striker and the midfield pivot. While Marin's out on loan already, I do not know what to expect of Moses this season. He played a lot last season, scored a few goals too. Not this season. Reduced minutes on the pitch is what we, and he, should expect. Being a 'home grown' player, I don't see us selling him. Neither will someone come forward with silly money for him.
- Schurrle and Van Ginkel made their debuts. While neither tore the opposition apart, whatever we saw was good. Schurrle, unlike De Bruyne, stuck mostly to the left flank. Maybe he was under orders or maybe he likes it that way. He tried linking up with others, especially Lukaku. Has a good first touch and lots of pace to burn. He just might be the Robben/Duff of Mourinho's second coming.
Van Ginkel played a more defensive role than his 'box to box' role at Vitesse. That might be because he was playing next to Ramires, who was running up in attack at every possibility. He kept things tidy and simple. Maybe next time he might get to play next to someone more defensive and we can see the creative part of his game.
- A while back, we could expect Terry or Lampard to the star attraction on Chelsea pre-season tours. While they still are, Hazard seems to be the shining light of this touring squad. Everything he did was a source of cheers. It's a shame that the likes of Mata and Luiz are back home (deservedly) resting.
- Mourinho's back! How good does that feel?!?! And, surreal!
- I am very bad at Math.