Everyone's favorite right back named Branislav Ivanović, Branislav Ivanović returned to the match action on Wednesday as a second-half substitute for young and generally impressive Ola Aina. Ivanović had missed most of the USA Tour up to that point with a shoulder injury he had picked up in the match against Wolfsberger AC in Austria.
More or less back to being fully healthy, Ivanović has West Ham and the new season's opening match in his sights.
"I still don't feel 100 per cent but I think I will be ready for the start of the season. When you look back at the tour it was fantastic and there were a lot of new things for us. We've been adapting and working as a team which is the most important thing and we've been training really hard during this period."
"It's different because it's new but the harder it is during pre-season the better it will be for you during the season, that's why we've been working hard. We all hope we will feel better. Not everything will be perfect at the beginning but we will correct things and work together."
Not everything has to be perfect, though a better start will be needed than last season. Fortunately, preseason seems to be going much better, not just in terms of results but in the actual performances both on and off the pitch and just the general vibe around the team: hopeful, yes, but also realistic of the big challenges ahead.
"At the moment it's very difficult and dangerous to say anything about the future because we know how difficult the league is. We can promise to give everything in each game, we can improve and we will improve. How far can we go? I think we need to take it step by step."
"After last season when Leicester won it [the other teams will] all want to be the next big surprise, it's going to be very exciting. Every game will be a different story for us."
Ivanović, who's set to continue his role as Vice-Captain will no doubt be counted on for his veteran leadership as much as his on-pitch performances. He's had more than his far share of critics, but perhaps the Passion of the Conte will stir some deep repressed memories of once being arguably the best right back in the league.
"[Conte] has passion during games and sessions, you can see that. He wants us to work as a team, be strong, motivated and hungry for every second during the game, which is positive. We are still adapting and we can still improve a lot."
"I think we are going to play with a different shape which will be new for us and our opponents, I hope we are on a good road."
-Branislav Ivanović; source: Chelsea FC
I hope we are good, period.