It would be harsh to criticize Asmir Begović for either of the two goals conceded against Rapid Wien on Saturday, but he certainly looked to have plenty of cobwebs to shake off after two months away from football this summer. Normally a sure-handed goalkeeper, Begović left at least one rebound right in front goal and dropped an easy catch under minimal pressure.
In fairness, he started pre-season horribly last summer as well (a torrid time against New York Red Bulls' reserve team) but when called upon during the season (which was early and often thanks to Courtois' knee injury), he was solid as ever. Never spectacular and surprisingly weak at time on crosses and corners, but more than solid enough for a backup.
He looks set to continue in that role this season (though there are rumors of him leaving for Everton, with AC Milan veteran Diego Lopez coming in instead), and after yesterday's match spoke a little bit about training so far and the expectations for the weeks ahead.
"It's been a good, hard week with lots of training and it was nice to finish it off with a match and get the cobwebs off."
"We are buying into what the manager wants us to do. We are working hard to try and improve. We're working in a different way so it's going to take a bit of time to process but so far so good, and I think over time we'll get better."
"He communicates very well, so he got his message across at half-time and before the game. We expect to work hard, that's part of pre-season. We're trying to be very disciplined. The work ethic is very strong."
"We've got some hard days ahead, we need to get our base fitness and it is something that will do us good in the long run. We're enjoying the hard work."
-Asmir Begović; source: Chelsea FC
Begović played the full 90 minutes on Saturday, but chances are the other two kids on tour, Jamal Blackman and Matej Delac will get to share goalkeeping duties in Wednesday's friendly against Wolfsberger AC. Or maybe Begović has a few more cobwebs to shake off, in which case he should get at least 45 minutes.