Chelsea embark on their first pre-season friendly under the hotly-anticipated stewardship of Frank Lampard, taking on Bohemians FC in Dublin.
A 22-man squad made up mainly of returning loanees, and peripheral figures from Maurizio Sarri’s ill-fated reign initially travelled to Ireland in order to prepare for the new season and prove their worth to the new manager.
Following three days of intensive training, said players were then joined by more senior figures such as David Luiz, who had been involved with their respective national teams.
Whilst still missing a few key players, Lampard will feel his side are more than ready to kick off their pre-season in style.
In terms of the team the new boss opts to pick for tomorrow night’s friendly, there will more than likely be an emphasis on giving certain players a chance to prove their critics wrong and stake a claim for more game time in the upcoming campaign.
Therefore, pivotal members of the squad, such as N’Golo Kante and Kepa Arrizabalaga, will probably not be risked. Lampard has previously looked to use a 4-2-3-1 formation while at Derby County, and it is presumed he will persist with that system for now, unless it arises that the squad he has at his disposal are drastically unsuited to said style of play.
Here is how we expect the Blues to line up.
It was something of a surprise to see Caballero commit to another year at the club considering his age. But with Chelsea’s transfer ban taking full effect, the veteran goalkeeper will need game time in order to provide adequate cover for Kepa.
Irrespective of Reece James’s exceptional loan spell at Wigan Athletic last season, Azpilicueta’s reliability will ensure that he plays a pivotal role in Chelsea’s fortunes next season. He could start against Bohemians.
One of Lampard’s most trusted individuals last season, playing over 40 games as Derby reached the play-off final. While Tomori is unlikely to feature much next season, his potential is undoubted, and he will be given the opportunity to excel.
Zouma looks poised to become an important member of Chelsea’s squad next season should he display the same form he displayed on loan at Everton last year. With David Luiz ageing, the Frenchman could well stake a claim for a starting berth if he impresses in pre-season.
Both Alonso and Emerson have only recently returned from international duties. They will, therefore, be interchanged regularly to avoid any injuries.
The young Welsh midfielder was steadily introduced to the first team last season, playing in a variety of different positions. But from watching his ability in possession, it is clear he is more suited to a deep-lying midfield role.
Chelsea are very well stocked in midfield compared to the rest of their squad, but if any player has a chance of forcing Lampard’s hand, it is Bakayoko, after he enjoyed a productive end to the season with AC Milan. Both he and Danny Drinkwater have much to prove to their new manager.
The Spanish winger would, in any other circumstance, have been rendered surplus to requirements. But with their transfer ban hanging over them, Chelsea are now cautious to let experienced members of the squad leave.
Palmer is well accustomed to taking part in Chelsea’s first team preparations without ever really getting close to establishing himself in the side. The 22-year-old desperately needs to grab his opportunity or else be sent out on another gruelling loan spell.
Chelsea’s initial pre-season squad in the absence of the injured Callum Hudson-Odoi lacks a natural left winger. Kenedy is the most suited candidate to fill the role even though his future at the club remains uncertain.
His arrival to pre-season was greeted with great enthusiasm by the Chelsea faithful, and the Belgium forward should be optimistic about his chances to impress next season. The Blues are very much lacking a player to spearhead their attack.