Thomas Tuchel stays with the tried and trusted
Going into pre-season, there was plenty of intrigue as to which system Tuchel would work on ahead of the 2021/22 campaign.
But with so many first-team stars absent due to their involvements at the European Championship and Copa America, there has been little point in the German working hard on shape and structure so far.
And that is perhaps why Tuchel opted to stick with his 3-4-2-1 system for today’s contest, at least in the opening period of the game.
No Mendy or Kepa
Chelsea’s two senior goalkeepers have been back at Cobham this week but neither featured in today’s game as Tuchel opted to assess a couple of the club’s young stoppers.
Jamie Cumming, who spent last season on loan at Stevenage, played the opening hour of the contest before being replaced by Lucas Bergstrom for the final 30 minutes.
The boss speaks with Malang Sarr
Had things worked out differently, then Sarr wouldn’t have been involved in today’s friendly.
Last month, the centre-back was called up by France for the Olympic Games in Tokyo.
However, the decision was subsequently taken for him to miss the tournament and remain with Chelsea – it’s not clear who made that call but the Blues didn’t have to give Sarr permission to travel.
It’s resulted in the 22-year-old having trained with the Blues this week and he is understood to have started on the left of the back three for today’s game.
And during the contest the Frenchman received some advice from the watching Tuchel on the touchline.
Trevoh Chalobah pushes
Having impressed at Ligue 1 side Lorient last season, there was always an expectation that Chalobah would return to Chelsea this summer and push for a place in the first-team set-up.
The academy graduate shone for the French club in a holding midfield role but was today used in the back three with the Blues somewhat short of centre-back options with Cesar Azpilicueta, Antonio Rudiger, Andreas Christensen, Thiago Silva and Kurt Zouma having not yet returned.
Centre-back is not an unfamiliar position for Chalobah, he played in the position during his time in youth football, but he’s unlikely to get into Tuchel’s plans in the role.
Interest in his services this summer is mounting and football.london understands two clubs in next season’s Europa League are interested in the 22-year-old.
Ross Barkley goes again
Barkley swapped Everton for Chelsea three-and-a-half years ago, but in that time, and under various different coaches, he’s been unable to cement a spot in the Blues’ starting XI.
The decision was taken last summer that Barkley should spend the 2020/21 campaign at Aston Villa and the 27-year-old made a bright start, starring in a shock 7-2 win over Premier League champions Liverpool.
Unfortunately, injury then derailed Barkley’s momentum and he ended the campaign on the Villa bench. Back at Chelsea once again, he will be hopeful of impressing Tuchel and earning a place in the first-team squad.
The Liverpool-born midfielder started the first half and played the opening 45 minutes of the game at Cobham.
Danny Drinkwater features…
It was on transfer deadline day in the summer of 2017 that Chelsea signed Drinkwater from Leicester City in a deal worth £30million. It’s safe to say that’s proven a poor piece of business.
Drinkwater has played just 23 games for the Blues and has spent the last two seasons on loan at Burnley, Aston Villa and Turkish side Kasımpasa. Neither of those stints away from Stamford Bridge were hugely successful.
Now 31 years old, it seems unlikely that the midfielder has a long-term future at Chelsea. But he was still given the opportunity to impress Tuchel against Posh.
…and so does Baker
It’s seven years since Jose Mourinho boldly declared that if Baker didn’t play for England, then the blame should fall at his feet. Well, here we are, Jose.
Now 26 years old, Baker remains a Chelsea player and still has a year left on his contract. He has been working with the first-team group this week and got on in the second half of today’s game but you sense his long-term future is away from Stamford Bridge.
Hakim Ziyech makes the ideal start
Partly due to injury, partly due to a loss of form, and partly due to Tuchel’s selection choices, Ziyech’s first campaign at Chelsea following his move from Ajax didn’t exactly go as planned.
He made only 21 starts in all competitions and scored just six goals, although among those were crucial strikes against Atletico Madrid in the Champions League last-16 and Man City in the FA Cup and the Premier League.
Ziyech, who has been mentioned as a possible target for AC Milan this summer, will hope to have a better 2021/22 campaign.
And he made the best possible start, scoring a second-half hat-trick to ensure the Blues completed a comfortable victory.
Callum Hudson-Odoi gets his chance
The last two seasons haven’t been easy for Hudson-Odoi. Yet there is no doubt the 20-year-old can blossom into a star at Chelsea.
After Tuchel’s arrival last term, Hudson-Odoi was utilised predominantly as a wing-back – not his preferred role – before dropping out of the starting XI entirely during the latter weeks of the campaign.
If Chelsea are to see the best of the academy graduate, it’s likely to be from his favoured role on the left of the attack. And that’s the position in which he was deployed in the first half against Peterborough this lunchtime.
On the opposite flank was Christian Pulisic. And the American found the back of the net in the opening period from the penalty spot after being felled by a visiting defender.
Armando Broja off the mark
After a solid first loan spell away from Chelsea at Vitesse Arnhem last season, some believe Broja is capable of making the step up and providing first-team cover for Tuchel this season.
That is unlikely to appeal to the young forward, whose rapid development could be stalled without regular game time over the next 12 months.
A decision over Broja’s next step will be made later this summer. But in his first outing of pre-season, he found the back of the net for the Blues.
Tammy Abraham proves a point
The future of the 23-year-old forward remains the subject of speculation. After Tuchel’s appointment at the end of January, Abraham lost his place in the Chelsea starting XI and, partly due to injury, played just 17 minutes during the final three months of the campaign.
Despite being the club’s joint top-scorer, Abraham was also omitted from the 23-man match-day squad for the Champions League final. It’s little wonder there have been several clubs interested in taking him away from Stamford Bridge.
Arsenal are, according to reports, the latest. West Ham United and Aston Villa have also been mooted as potential suitors.
That’s because Abraham is an out-and-out goalscorer. If he plays, he will find the back of the net. That was the case at Cobham today. The England international played the first half of the game and found the back of the net with an assured finish.
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