Chelsea's second 90 minutes of preseason match action went a lot better than the first 90, and featured some impressive performances from not only slightly older players in new positions (i.e. Oscar) and loan returnees hoping to catch on (i.e. Moses), but also several youngsters who are looking to finally bridge the seemingly insurmountable gap between youth and senior football.
Versatile defender Ola Aina, who basically spent all of last season training with the first-team (but without making a single competitive appearance for the first-team), led the way in terms of minutes on Wednesday as the only non-goalkeeper to feature for the full 90. In the first half he played left back (as he did in the second-half of Saturday's game), then he switched to the right; the 19-year-old looked comfortable on both.
Fellow youngsters Bertrand Traore, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, and Nathaniel Chalobah supplied the goals for Chelsea. Head coach Antonio Conte was quite pleased with their contributions and looked forward to more of the same, if not better.
"We have many young players and all are working very hard. I'm happy about that."
"Ruben is young with great potential. I like him a lot in the position of striker. He can improve a lot because he has great potential, good technique, good personality and he is good one v one. It's normal he can improve and normal too that Chalobah and Aina can improve. Aina is showing the Academy is a good school and it is very important for the club. If I can count on these players it's a new source for me."
"In the future I want to see other very young players like [Tammy] Abraham and [Dominic] Solanke. I am very happy to have young players to work with, and that I can improve and permit to become Chelsea first team players, not young players."
We have always envisioned Loftus-Cheek as a midfielder, but apparently Conte is set on using him as a second striker. For what it's worth, RLC looked much more comfortable in the role today than in the first game. Then again, the same could be said for the whole team, all of whom (except maybe Baba Rahman and Nemanja Matic) put in better shifts against WAC than against Rapid Vienna.
"Before the game I asked my players that after a week of strong work, physically and tactically, I wanted to see the improvement in our idea of football. I received a good answer. I know we can improve, I know we must improve, but we are at the beginning of the season. We are working very hard. Every day we have two very hard training sessions."
"I saw a lot of good things today and also situations we can improve. That's normal. It was nice to win, it's important to have this habit for everyone's mentality despite many players being very tired after the training sessions. I'm also happy because I saw a good attitude."
-Antonio Conte; source: Chelsea FC
Chelsea will spend a couple more days in Austria before flying home for a day and then heading out on the USA Tour. Next match will be against Klopp's Liverpool at the Rose Bowl in Southern California, by which time the full complement of players should be available (including all the Euro 2016 participants) to continue the hard work and steady progress of pre-season.