In the first televised outing of the 2017-18 pre-season, Chelsea continued the strong work from the non-televised outing last week, when the Blues beat neighboring Fulham 8-2. This time the opposition were (a slightly under-strength) Arsenal, but Chelsea hardly missed a beat en route to an impressive 3-0 victory.
It may just be pre-season, but Chelsea were a fair bit above Arsenal in terms of work-rate, commitment, and determination, and those are qualities that can be carried over to the non-fake season as well.
“For sure it was a good game. It is good to have this type of start but we have to continue to work a lot to improve on the physical and tactical aspect. Pre-season is very important. These type of friendly games are important to play because you understand your level of physical preparation. We must be happy for the commitment of the players and with our football.”
Chelsea have had around 20 training session already in the two weeks since the official start of pre-season, but despite that conditioning work, looked a level above Arsenal not only in the mental but the physical aspect as well.
One player who’s been demonstrating many of those qualities fairly consistently so far this pre-season is Michy Batshuayi, who’s squad spot is no longer assured at Chelsea after the arrival of Álvaro Morata and the resurrection of the Fernando Llorente rumors.
Still, as Conte spouted many of the same cliches we’ve heard many times before about Michy, it is perhaps heartening to see him acknowledge the effort put in and the improvements seen in the 23-year-old’s game.
“Last season it was a difficult season for Michy but don’t forget he scored a very important goal to give us the title. I think last season he had a bit of difficulty because it is not easy to play in the Premier League. It is a physical league and a very strong league.”
“After one year he is working very well and he is improving. Me and my staff want to improve every player and Batshuayi is a young player with great potential and it is important for him and for us to work in this way, and for him to understand what I want. For me the striker is very important, he is a point of reference. If he stays in the right position, it is easier for us, for the team and to play good football.”
If Michy is okay with staying and so are Chelsea (with or without a veteran third striker), he might just be looking at a few more minutes this season.