Chelsea’s pre-season campaign “officially” got underway on Tuesday night with a 2-1 victory at Bournemouth as we saw Thomas Tuchel’s team in the flesh for the first time since their Champions League final victory.
The Blues already played a behind-closed-doors friendly against Peterborough earlier this month and were forced to cancel another planned match against Drogheda in Ireland owing to a positive Covid-19 test.
Chelsea were handed 1325 tickets for their travelling supporters as a near-capacity crowd at the Vitality Stadium were in attendance on a mild and rainy midweek.
They saw the Blues fall behind to Emiliano Marcondes’ close-range header but Tuchel’s makeshift squad responded in style thanks to goals from Armando Broja and Ike Ugbo in the second half.
There are now just two more friendlies to play before the Blues take on Villarreal in the UEFA Super Cup in Belfast on August 11, three days before the Premier League gets underway with a home game against Crystal Palace.
Some of Chelsea’s international stars should be back in action for the visit to Arsenal this Sunday in the Mind Series and the Bournemouth game may well have been the final chance for some to make a good impression on Tuchel with the new season just over a fortnight away.
Here, we assess the winners and losers from the win over the Cherries.
Three goals in three pre-season run-outs for the Albanian frontman as he is doing pretty much everything he possibly can to force Tuchel to pick him as the Blues’ third striker this season.
He was a half time substitute down at the Vitality and got on the end of Baba Rahman’s cross to stoop home the equaliser.
But it wasn’t just his goal, Tuchel will have been pleased with his pressing and passing, especially on one chase down block midway through the second half.
Armed with a new five-year deal and playing with a lot of confidence following his loan at Vitesse Arnhem last season, it was another good showing from Broja..
The academy graduate was arguably the Blues’ biggest attacking threat all night from right back before he was withdrawn midway through the second half for Davide Zappacosta.
His first half was far more explosive than the second when he saw far less of the ball but with all reports indicating that Hudson-Odoi has had a very good pre-season, it was another step in the right direction for the winger.
He forced a good stop from Bournemouth keeper Mark Travers and also set up a chance for Tammy Abraham.
Aside from David Brooks bailing him out after missing a sitter following Gallagher losing the ball, it was another solid showing from the central midfielder who is keen to be involved in the Blues first team this season.
Gallagher was the only Blues player to get through the 90 minutes at the Vitality and he used the ball well throughout, snapped into tackles (some of his timing was a bit off) and was generally bright throughout.
As football.london exclusively revealed last week, he is a target for Leeds and Crystal Palace on loan but the player held talks with Tuchel earlier this week on where he needs to improve to become a fixture in Chelsea’s midfield.
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While a long-term future at the club still seems unlikely for the former Leicester man had a good 45 minutes against Bournemouth where he at least showed what is still in his locker.
He sprayed a number of fine crossfield passes to Hudson-Odoi and broke up plenty of Cherries attacks. More importantly, he looked fit and in very good nick.
The USMNT star barely got into the game during his 45 minute run-out in the first half and when he did see the ball his use with it wasn’t the best and he ran down to many crowded alleys.
With competition in his area of the pitch incredibly fierce at Chelsea , Pulisic will need strong showings against Arsenal, Spurs and Villarreal to cement a place in the Premier League eleven.
Captain on the night and was pretty ineffective throughout his hour on the pitch as he looked a little off the pace for the vast majority.
Ben Chilwell will not have to worry about his starting spot against Crystal Palace come the start of the new season.
He’s had a good pre-season but was perhaps somewhat stifled by his position at Bournemouth as he didn’t have too much of an impact in the second half.
Gallagher was given more of a free role and Loftus-Cheek often looked restricted, not knowing whether to sit or drive forward.
It is a big summer for the academy graduate after a middling loan at Fulham last season and will have wanted to have shown more. We saw a few glimpses but not enough.
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