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Perth turning on the lights for Chelsea visit

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The city is excited to host the Blues

Matagarup Bridge and the Optus Stadium turned blue for Chelsea’s visit to Perth on July 20, 2018 in Perth, Australia
Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

Perth, the only major city on the west coast of Australia and well over a 1000 miles from the nearest major population center, is so isolated that in 1962 the citizens, called Perthites, were able to greet American astronaut John Glenn and his spaceship, Friendship 7, simply by turning on all their streetlights and house lights. It was a publicity stunt, but it also got them the nickname City of Light.

They didn’t turn on all the lights for Chelsea’s arrival, but they did light up the recently completed Matagarup Bridge as well as the other recently completed public works project, the Optus Stadium, where Chelsea will play on Monday.

Plenty of lights shone on the players and staff as they arrived at their hotel on Thursday as well, with a throng of fans eager to get a glimpse of their visiting Chelsea heroes. It’s occasions like these that put the human face on these pre-season tours, generally considered cold, cynical marketing cash grabs. Chelsea were in Australia just a few years ago, on a post-season tour in 2015, but that only makes this the club’s second visit to the continent in the last 40-odd years.

The friendly itself will be the first football match staged at the brand new Optus (Perth Stadium), which is replacing the famous but aging WACA cricket ground as Western Australia’s premier sports venue. Chelsea did hold training at the WACA however.

As the players begin their second training session of the day...

... they’re treated to an unusual-looking scoreboard. The name of every squad member is up there, along with Sarri’s.

No machine produced those signs. It was the labor of love.

At Friday’s brief press conference, Cesc Fabregas was suitably impressed by the welcome and the accommodations.

“It’s my first time in Australia so I am happy to be here. The first impression is good, it’s good for the city, the stadium is very good. The pitch for training is good so it is a good impression.

“This is the first time I have been here, and I have a friend living here so he has been telling me good stuff and first hand, now I can say I agree with him.

“Thank you so much for welcoming us this way, we are very happy to be here and hopefully we can give a good performance on Monday and make everyone happy.”

-Cesc Fabregas; source: Football.London

Truth is, with the players given so little time to absorb Sarrismo, the quality of play may be a little rough. But at least the Australian winter is providing for some ideal conditions for training and playing.

Here are a few more pictures of Chelsea’s first couple days Down Under.