The first game of the pre-season is under our collective belts, and now Chelsea head to the south coast for a meeting with Portsmouth. If the match at Fratton Park is anything like the one we played at Cobham earlier in the week (hint: It's pre-season, and therefore will be), Andre Villas-Boas will be going through virtually everyone on the roster in an attempt to figure out just what he has on his hands.
Preseason is about finding match fitness, experimenting with shapes and, for clubs with new managers, learning how to work with them in game situations. It's also a chance for the kids to shine - Ross Turnbull, Patrick van Aanholt, Tommy Kalas, Jacob Mellis, Aliu Djalo, Slobodan Rajkovic, Josh McEachran and Billy Clifford all got chances to place against Wycombe, and I'd expect the top reserve players who didn't get a game midweek to get some time today. We also didn't see Frank Lampard, Alex or Petr Cech, so they're likely to get significant time as well.
It would be a little bit silly to project the starting lineup for a game that's essentially a test run, but, barring injury, I'd expect to see Cech, Lampard, Alex, Connor Clifford, Nathaniel Chabolah, Todd Kane, Milan Lalkovic, Danny Sturridge and Ryan Bertrand feature at some point tomorrow. Villas-Boas will want to get a good look at absolutely everyone he has before he makes some firm decisions as we get closer to the start of the season.
Portsmouth, of course, finished 16th in the nPower Championship last season, continuing their precipitous fall from grace after running into financial problems whilst in the top flight. The last time we played them, the FA Cup final was on the line - no such stress here. The Chelsea official site has a nice rundown of how things are at Fratton Park these days, highlighting a slew of new (free) signings, but in truth nothing seems to be going particularly well for them at the moment. I hope that changes. It'd be nice to see them back up on their feet.
The game will be on Chelsea TV at 3:00 PM BST (that's 10:00 AM for you USA east-coasters), and will be played in front of a crowd of around 15,000. It'll be good to actually get to watch Chelsea a match- no matter how irritating the team was at times last season, this is a sign that football is ramping up for a new season. I've missed it.