After a difficult, but interesting, friendly draw against a PSG side you'd have to classify as depleted [o_O] on Sunday, Chelsea have made the short journey from New York to Philadelphia, where they take are set to take on the cream of MLS in the 2012 All-Star Game.
Date/Time: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 8:30pm EDT; [Thursday, 26 July, 01:30 BST, 06:00 IST, 10:30 AEST]:
Venue: PPL Park, Chester, Pennsylvania, United States.
TV: Chelsea TV, ESPN2 (USA), ESPN UK, Ten Action (India), ESPN Australia
Watch online: Chelsea TV, ESPN3
Background: Chelsea have history with the MLS All-Star Game, having played in it once, under Jose Mourinho back in 2006. In that game, Dwayne De Rosario scored the only goal as Chelsea succumbed to defeat against the All-Stars. Given that just seven of the 22 Chelsea players in the squad in 2006 are even still at the club [6 of 19 if you exclude players who saw no action], revenge can't be on the minds of the Chelsea squad. It's also preseason, so wins are less important than in real competition. [That said, we're past the half-way point of preseason, so we might see a bit more focus on the win.]
MLS All-Stars Team News: Among the MLS players selected to the All-Stars are captain and one-time Chelsea-slayer De Rosario and a host of players with Premier League experience against Chelsea, like David Beckham, Thierry Henry, and Green Bay, Wisconsin-native Jay DeMerit*, formerly of Watford. I imagine the All-Stars will prove less of a challenge than PSG, even though they're up to speed and in the middle of their season.
Chelsea Team News: Since the PSG draw, the last of the players on a Euro 2012-induced holiday have joined up with the squad, though Fernando Torres is unlikely to feature in a major way, if at all. Hair ferret enthusiast Raul Meireles may feature, and defensive duo John Terry and Ashley Cole look likely to feature more than against PSG.
Chelsea Tactical Speculation: Given that it's further into preseason, I expect to see a starting lineup more-closely resembling the potential first XI than we've seen so far on the US tour. We should see more players playing 60 minute spells than just a half, with Robbie suggesting we might see a few players get 90 minutes. If I were to bet, I'd put Romelu Lukaku among those likely to get 90 minutes, as Fernando Torres is unlikely to feature so soon after rejoining Chelsea, but is likely to play in Miami.
Potential, But Almost-Certainly Wrong, Lineups:
MLS All-Stars**: 4-4-2 - Jimmy Nielsen; Steven Beitashour, Aurélien Collin, Jay DeMerit, Justin Morrow; David Beckham, Dwayne De Rosario, Landon Donovan, Graham Zusi; Thierry Henry, Chris Wondolowski
Bold, But Almost-Certainly Wrong, Prediction: 3-1 Chelsea, with Lukaku [x2], Hazard, and Henry scoring.
*Possibly a shameless plug for my home town ; )
**This is the First XI based on voting. It may, and likely will, differ from the actual starting lineup.