It was billed as a (midseason) pre-season friendly, one meant to get the blood pumping in rested legs ahead of the resumption of the Premier League season in a couple weeks, but Chelsea’s matchday squad against Aston Villa yesterday included just three first-team regulars (Jorginho, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and Marc Cucurella) and a couple fringe players (Armando Broja, Marcus Bettinelli) alongside a whole host of Academy stars. And as much as the kids excelled, we’re unlikely to see too many of them the rest of the season.
So it was less of a fitness exercise and more of an opportunity to showcase for the youngsters, and that’s perfectly fine as well. After all, to a man (well, boy) they all put in at least a solid shift, facing mostly Premier League-quality players (albeit without actual Premier League motivation).
And while Villa took advantage of that quality in a moment when it mattered to actually score and win the game, 1-0, the young Blues certainly earned their praise as well — especially Omari Hutchinson and Lewis Hall, who were the two standouts for me.
“It was a good game and a good performance from a young team playing against a really experienced Premier League side.
“[Hutchinson] was really good, dangerous and asked a question all the time. Throughout the game he showed his quality but he wasn’t the only one. It was a spirited performance with a lot of young players so it was good.”
The one obvious blot on the day was the injury to Armando Broja, which certainly seemed a very significant one as his howls of pain echoed around the largely empty stadium. It would be quite surprising if it turned out to be anything less than a torn ACL unfortunately, though we have to wait for scans and an official diagnosis first.
“It was just an unfortunate action. He got caught up with their player and the ground. It doesn’t look positive at the moment but it’s too early to say. Fingers crossed but it is an awkward one.”
Despite all that, the week in Abu Dhabi has been good, and our previously injured players are all making progress in their recoveries. As with our games in general, hopefully we can celebrate some results soon, rather than just the process and the progress.
“We’ve had a fantastic week actually and it’s been good to work with the boys that are here. It’s been really positive to work in these conditions and we’re happy with the week. The lads that have been injured have had a bit more time training and they’ve stepped up their rehab so that’s good, they’re getting closer.
“We’ve got a full week’s training when we get back and then we have a friendly the following week so that will be good. There’s a few more guys coming back from the World Cup so it’s moving nicely.
“We’ll be able to have a few more players back in full training with us. Reece James has moved forward, Wesley Fofana is moving forward, Carney Chukwuemeka is moving forward so that’s positive. Hopefully Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Ben Chilwell can also take a step forward in their rehab next week so we’re optimistic about that.”
-Graham Potter; source: Chelsea FC
Positive Potter’s back, baby! So let’s inject that sunshine in our veins and carry on towards Boxing Day.