Chelsea still miss killer instincts but at least have a blueprint for second half of season
Chelsea have been one of the Premier League’s biggest underachievers so far this season, a team that does not deserve the ‘world champions’ tag which they technically still retain.
The Blues looked stale in the last weeks of Thomas Tuchel’s tenure, and after enjoying Graham Potter’s new manager bounce, they quickly reverted to their 2022 type – a stale squad that looked sick to the back teeth of each other.
Heading into the World Cup break, their bloated roster was seen as a strange amalgamation of Roman Abramovich’s win-now regime and the scattergun approach overseen in Todd Boehly’s first summer. The hope was that a reshaped recruitment team would lead a rebuild moving forward and that this season would be about treading water ahead of a new era.
On Chelsea’s return to Premier League action on Tuesday though, they showed real signs of life and gave fans optimism that they are still contenders in the top-four race.
Goals from Kai Havertz and Mason Mount saw the Blues go into half-time with their biggest lead all year. From the off, the hosts showed both a capability and desire to play through Bournemouth like they were slicing butter.
Potter’s sides usually change formations throughout matches fluidly and require players to be versatile, but this was a more rigid system which instead empowered individuals in these more-defined roles. Raheem Sterling and Reece James dominated the right flank in willing tandem, Denis Zakaria’s stay-and-go midfield partnership worked perfectly, the aforementioned Mount and Havertz complimented each other superbly.
Chelsea are a team known for winning at all costs rather than free-flowing style, but the appointment of Potter was a sign that this board want a long-term plan, a sustainable way of playing to match off-field ingenuity.
The changing of the guard from Frank Lampard to Tuchel almost definitively proved that players at this level are not un-coachable, but are rather poorly coached or in the wrong situation. Chelsea’s current cohort is in need of surgery but it’s hardly an unfixable squad.
In fact, their biggest problem on Tuesday was that they didn’t completely kill the game off, that they started so brightly but opened the door for Bournemouth to fight back.
They were a little fortunate that the Cherries’ territorial gains were only in midfield, with their lack of attacking quality giving the illusion that Chelsea managed to keep them at arm’s length. This wasn’t exactly the case with the final 20 minutes or so feeling a tad uncomfortable inside Stamford Bridge.
But if the first 60 minutes or so is how Chelsea plan on playing for the rest of the season – with an effective mix of directness and control, pace and possession – then they might just salvage a tangible reward.
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Arsenal pre-season 2023/24: Fixtures and schedule
Having reached new heights in the Premier League in 2022/23, Arsenal will soon be beginning their preparations for the new campaign with a pre-season tour to get ready for 2023/24.
Preparations for last season took place in Germany for Arsenal but with the Covid-19 pandemic a bit more of a distant memory for many, it is expected that more teams will be heading further afield again to either the United States of America or Asia.
Arsenal are yet to announce a full training camp location for their pre-season but they do have one fixture already confirmed which drops a big clue.
The Gunners are going to be coming up against an MLS All-Star team in Washington D.C. which will be coached by Manchester United and England legend Wayne Rooney. That takes place on July 19 and it is hard to imagine that Arsenal will only play one game in America.
A semi-regular fixture of Arsenal’s pre-seasons in recent years has been the Emirates Cup, but there has not been any word on whether an edition of that will be taking place or not this summer. If there is, then Arsenal could be splitting their time between America and London.
All times BST.
As is the case for almost every big club in football now, all of Arsenal’s pre-season friendlies are expected to be televised live on Arsenal.com and their official app with a subscription.
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