Chelsea continue to have barely any time for any actual, concentrated spell of preseason training, following up Saturday’s match in Nice, France with a brief hop over to Dublin to take on Arsenal at the Aviva Stadium on Wednesday night. Worse yet, the season’s just around the corner, with the Community Shield pseudo-friendly awaiting on Sunday and then the season opening match at Huddersfield coming up Saturday next. How much of a miracle-worker new head coach Maurizio Sarri can be will be found out shortly.
For now, for those players who are back from post-World Cup vacations and those who didn’t get to go at all, the emphasis will be once again on fitness and learning the new system. In the previous two friendlies, Chelsea have shown some aptitude in “Sarri-ball”, but we’re far from the finished product, or even able to apply its principles correctly.
Sarri highlighted the tempo and speed of passing as a big issue against Inter on Saturday, especially in the second-half, so we’ll be hoping for some improvement in that regard.
This is the second consecutive summer that Chelsea and Arsenal play in a preseason International Champions Cup friendly. Chelsea won last year, 3-0, and beating Arsenal is never a bad thing.
Date / Time: Wednesday, August 1, 2018, 20:05 local time (20:05 BST; 3:05pm EDT)
Venue: Aviva Stadium, Dublin, Republic of Ireland
Forecast: An overcast, mild, showery August day and slightly drier night at the heights of the Irish “summer”
On TV: Premier Sports (UK); ESPN2, ESPN Deportes (USA); elsewhere
Streaming online: Premier Player (UK only); WatchESPN, ESPN+ (USA only); Chelsea TV (audio commentary only — full video replay the next day)
Chelsea team news: One change to 23-man traveling squad from the weekend as Ruben Loftus-Cheek joins the party and Morata makes it back from the birth of his twins, but Charly Musonda Jr (who’s now definitely behind even Lucas Piazon) left at home. That’s probably not a good sign for young Charly’s Chelsea prospects for this season.
GOALKEEPERS: Caballero, Green, Bułka
DEFENDERS: Rüdiger, Christensen, David Luiz, Azpilicueta, Zappacosta, Alonso, Emerson, Ampadu
MIDFIELDERS: Jorginho, Fàbregas, Barkley, Bakayoko, Drinkwater, Loftus-Cheek
FORWARDS: Pedro, Moses, Hudson-Odoi, Piazon, Morata, Abraham
Sarri fielded the same starting lineup in each of the previous two games this summer; presumably we’ll see something slightly different today, with some of the newer returning faces in training getting a shot from the start. Rotation and mass substitutions will still be the name of game of course.
Arsenal team news: Massive changes at Arsenal this summer, with a new coach in charge for the first time in 22 years and five major new signings across several important positions to add to the first-team that finished lowest of the “Sky Six”.
Goalkeeper Bernd Leno, center back Sokratis Papasomethingorotheropoulos, wing-back Stephan Lichtsteiner, and young midfielder Lucas Torreira and Mattéo Guendouzi cost Arsenal not much more (£67.4m) than what Chelsea spent on Jorginho alone (€57m), but generally speaking, such a scattergun approach (many, lower quality signings) is less preferable to surgical striker (fewer, higher quality signings).
Arsenal beat PSG’s skeleton team 5-1 on Saturday, for whatever that’s worth.
Previously: Chelsea surely enjoy decent support across the narrow sea, but the Blues have not visited the island since 1999 and Dublin specifically since 1991, when it was part of a three-game swing saw friendly wins against Bohemians, Sligo Rovers, and a Limerick City select squad. Chelsea returned for four preseason games in 1992 (two in Republic of Ireland, two in Northern Ireland), but other than a charity relief match in 1999 in Omagh, we’ve had our sights set on more exotic destinations ever since.
I couldn’t find highlights of any of those games, so here’s some tunnel cam from Chelsea’s last friendly instead. Tunnel cam!