We’re just a week away from our first semi-competitive match of the new season, the UEFA Super Cup next Wednesday, and just ten days away from our first actually competitive match of the new season, the season opener against Crystal Palace on the 14th. That’s not much time to finalize preparations, especially considering that quite a few players have just returned from summer holidays following their involvement in summer tournaments.
That’s why it was especially heartening to see such a spirited, committed, and high quality effort from Chelsea for the first 45-60 minutes of Wednesday night’s friendly against Spurs, with Chelsea essentially playing the visitors off the pitch in front of an equally spirited home crowd at the Bridge.
Head coach Thomas Tuchel was rightly pleased as well, as his charges went 2-0 up (and also had a goal by Timo Werner quite incorrectly ruled out) before twice succumbing to second-half mistakes to settle for just a draw.
“We started very well and the game was very intense. You could feel the impact of spectators, it didn’t feel like a friendly match at all for the first 25 minutes. After that there was a little drop in intensity but the last 15 minutes, with every ball win from N’Golo Kanté, there was another chance to accelerate the game. So we did very, very well in this.
“We have active ball recoveries, created good chances, had good control of the ball, good defending. So for 60 minutes, I was very happy. We then had a lot of changes and unfortunately, there were two big individual mistakes and Tottenham were very efficient to use them and take away a draw. It’s not always about the result but there were obvious reasons today and there were lot of positives for us to learn from the match.”
As Tuchel said in his post-match interview, there are no fewer than 42 players involved in first-team training at the moment, which is obviously an untenable number. Cuts, at least proverbial, must be made with futures and careers on the line. That’s a tough situation for all involved, which magnifies the importance and the impact of the rare opportunities given to those on the fringes of the team. Sorry, Tiémoué.
“We [have] had 42 players in the building, that’s just not possible. [We’ve] had to take some decisions to provide quality and intelligent training for the three groups who belong to us. And at the same time to select players we want to know better.
“Ross [Barkley] had his chance to play one half against Arsenal, the same as Danny Drinkwater. We had the impression that Ruben [Loftus-Cheek] deserves to be on the pitch today again and we wanted to give Bakayoko the chance to play for the first time under us. Maybe it’s unfair to judge them because we don’t know them very well but at least everybody has had the chance to show up in a game. So it was a matter of selection.”
-Thomas Tuchel; source: Football.London