We often dismiss preseason friendlies as meaningless or “fake” (as José Mourinho liked to say, especially when it was a 4-2 loss to NY Red Bulls Reserves), and while the results themselves are obviously meaningless in the strictest sense (play to win, sure), for the players involved, especially those on the fringes of the first-team, they can be some of the best chances to impress.
There’s of course training and the “attitude” shown day after day and session after session, but as Thomas Tuchel said after Tuesday’s friendly in Bournemouth, actual match action is even better in providing a fair evaluation — win or lose.
“We need these games to analyse and judge our players and to make decisions about the best next steps for them. There is now a training group of 28 or 29 in training which is huge. We have more coming back in the near future so we have to make decisions and it’s good to learn during matches because we need to judge them on a fair basis and impressions on games, this is better than in training.”
-Thomas Tuchel; source: SI
Tuchel had positive things to say about the likes Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Armando Broja after the 2-1 win — when asked about them — though it remains to be seen just who and how many of these fringe and young players might stick around. There aren’t too many spots on the team: Olivier Giroud and Billy Gilmour leaving created a couple maybe, while there’s also a bit of uncertainty with all the expiring contracts in defense. But it’s very much limited.
Still, a good performance against Bournemouth won’t have done any harm to their chances, so hopefully we do see a couple of our own make the team for the season.