Coming off our worst season in three decades, the expectations may not be as high this year as most other years ... but as new head coach Mauricio Pochettino has been keen to remind us, we’re still Chelsea and Chelsea still means winning. Re-creating and re-instilling that winning culture into this team is one of Poch’s primary tasks. But by definition, that’s going to take a while. Step by step. Game, by game. And it’s going to take consistency, belief, resiliency, a clarity of vision and the fortitude to stay with it — especially if things were to get a bit tough.
That journey begins today, at nearly the very end of the opening weekend of the 2023-24 Premier League. Our first match is finally here as we take on Liverpool at Stamford Bridge. It’s going to be a tough game, to be sure, and now with the added intrigue of all the Moisés Caicedo (and Roméo Lavia) transfer drama playing into things, too.
But before our lives had become engulfed once again by transfer market shenanigans, we got to witness the start of something promising and positive in preseason, with solid play and good vibes (despite the two major injuries to Wesley Fofana and Christopher Nkunku). This past week of preparations since returning from the USA have happened largely in the background to the aforementioned rumor mill nonsense, and that’s perhaps for the best — allowing us to focus solely on getting the season started off on the right foot.
So let’s get to it!
Date / Time: Sunday, August 13, 2023, 16.30 BST; 11:30am EDT; 9pm IST
Venue: Stamford Bridge, SW6
Referee: Anthony Taylor (on pitch); Darren England (VAR)
Forecast: Warm and breezy
On TV: Sky Sports Main Event (UK); none (USA); Star Sports Select HD1 (India); SuperSport Premier League (NGA); elsewhere
Streaming: Sky Go (UK); Peacock (USA); Hotstar (India); DStv Now (NGA)
Chelsea team news: There’s been so much turnover in this squad that it’s almost hard to believe. No fewer than ten first-team players have been sold or let go this summer, including some absolute legends in César Azpilcueta and N’Golo Kanté, and the vast majority of the remaining key players from our 2021 Champions League win.
Those who have remained are almost all quite young and quite new still, and have been joined by a few more new (and even younger) faces. As things stand (and assuming that Kepa Arrizabalaga completes his loan move to Real Madrid), the longest-serving non-Academy players are Thiago Silva and Ben Chilwell with three whole seasons under their belts at the Bridge since signing in 2020. They are also two of the oldest at 38 and 26, respectively, with only Raheem Sterling (at 28) and third-string goalkeeper Marcus Bettinelli (at 31) in between them.
The changes are of course not yet done, with some still waiting to leave (Hakim Ziyech, Romelu Lukaku, Callum Hudson-Odoi, most notably, who have been training separately from the rest) and some still hoping to arrive (Caicedo, another goalkeeper?, another midfielder?).
Of those who are right here, right now, Trevoh Chalobah, Benoît Badiashile, and Armando Broja are set to miss out, alongside the two long-term knee injury victims (W.Fofana and Nkunku). New arrival Robert Sánchez is set to make his debut in place of Kepa; otherwise we’ll likely see a similar lineup to preseason (with Mykhailo Mudryk or perhaps Ian Maatsen deputizing for Nkunku).
Liverpool team news: Liverpool might have had the dubious honor of the most shocking season last year were it not for Chelsea’s outrageous drop in form, with the Reds finishing just fifth, outside the top four for the first time in seven years — and needing an 11-match unbeaten run at the end to do so.
So they, like Chelsea, are looking to do a bit better (and like us, avoid injuries), and have made a couple excellent midfield signings to help them in that regard, adding Alexis Mac Allister and Dominik Szoboszlai for just under £100m combined. Like Chelsea, they do still need a defensive (or at least more deep-lying) midfielder, after the departure of Fabinho and yet another injury to Thiago Alcântara, but otherwise it’s pretty much the same team that eventually gelled last season and will now be looking to reclaim their spot towards the top of the table.
View from the enemy: The Liverpool Offside
Previously: Somewhat unbelievably, we’re on a streak of six (6!) straight draws against the Reds in all competitions, with the least four all scoreless, including both Premier League meetings last season. The last person to score in this fixture was Christian Pulisic in January 2022, shortly after Mateo Kovačić scored our goal of the season. Meanwhile, as Chelsea’s YouTube channel has reminded us, the last time we played Liverpool on opening day was in 2003, at the very start of an historic era indeed, and winning 2-1.