Undercooked Chelsea have it all to do

August 5, 2018

 

In the end, Sunday's Community Shield encounter with Manchester City was exactly what most Chelsea fans would have anticipated.

Playing the slick-passing champions on a stinking hot day in the wide open spaces of Wembley was no place to road-test a new way of playing and to bed down new players.

With a new manager barely familiar with the pincode to his new filing cabinets at Cobham, and players missing because of World Cup hangovers and contract uncertainties, it was always asking a lot to expect the Blues to seriously challenge such a settled and accomplished side as City.

Man City have only added Riyad Mahrez to the ranks over the summer and look good to go. By contrast, we cannot even say with confidence that Chelsea are a work in progress.

Undercooked is hardly a word which seems applicable in the current heatwave, but that is what Maurizio Sarri's team are, and it is hardly surprising. The Italian has not been given much time to get to know his players, let alone switch them on to the sort of high pressing game he perfected at Napoli.

Chelsea are not alone in having to ease players back gently from adventures in Russia over the summer, but they are not helped by the fact two of their leading lights - Eden Hazard and Thibaut Courtois - may be bound for Spain's La Liga before long.

David Luiz made a welcome return at the heart of the defence, but with Gary Cahill absent, and Andreas Christensen left on the bench, there was a soft centre to Sarri's outfit. Antonio Rudiger - outstanding at full-back at times last season - did not look so comfortable in the middle. But for Willy Caballero, the Blues could easily have been on the end of a seriously embarrassing scoreline.

Jorginho had a difficult first outing, but this was no place to judge too harshly. He was coveted by Pep Guardiola and will surely prove to be an invaluable addition. Besides, it is hard to imagine Chelsea being as overrun as they were this weekend, had N’Golo Kante been present. The Frenchman is now indispensable for club and country and his reputation grows even when he is missing. Ruben Loftus-Cheek can also plug the gaps we saw.

The main area of concern for Sarri is where the goals will come from should Hazard or Willian depart, because the lack of presence up front since Diego Costa left still haunts the Blues. Alvaro Morata has the look of a little boy lost and seems bereft of confidence. Tammy Abraham is still too inexperienced and will surely go out on loan again. Olivier Giroud will carry quite a burden.

But it will be interesting to see whether Callum Hudson-Odoi can buck the trend and stay on board. Fans crave the chance to see him regularly rather than have him follow the familiar path for many young prospects before him of loan spells elsewhere.

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