Sunday, December 10, 2023

Sunday round-up: Chelsea smashed, Arteta on squad depth

Pre-season continued in fine style last night with a thumping 4-0 win over Chelsea. I know, in the grand scheme of things it doesn’t mean anything, but beating Chelsea 4-0 is always good because that means Chelsea have lost 4-0.

You can watch highlights via the official site here, but let’s go through the goals with video clips.

📺  1-0 Gabriel Jesus

A very smart finish from the Brazilian after a first time pass from Granit Xhaka. If that’s the way Chelsea are going to play offside this season, long may it last.

📺 2-0 Martin Odegaard

A dreadful kick-out from the Chelsea keeper, Partey played it to Martinelli, Odegaard made a smart run between the most static looking defenders you’ll ever see, and fired in a low shot into the bottom corner.

📺 3-0 Bukayo Saka

Look at how Saka roasts Marcos Alonso. There is no finer sight in football that seeing this supremely irritating Holm Oak, this violent plank of a man, huffing and puffing as someone with actual talent shows him up for what he really is.

Xhaka is involved well again, setting up a chance for Martinelli which is saved, and the Swiss international shows quick feet from the rebound to fire in a chance of his own. It too is saved, but Saka is there as Chelsea’s ancient defenders stand and watch him fire it home and make it 3-0.

Alonso – breathing like an asthmatic seal that has eaten 50 hornets that have stung his throat all the way down – watches on, the truth of his hapless existence exposed once more.

📺 4-0 Albert Sambi Lokonga

I’ve always said Cedric should cross it more. It’s just what the team needs. Sambi’s guided header into the far corner was very nice too.

At this point, Chelsea had simply decided not to even try this so-called defending stuff.

Afterwards, Mikel Arteta said:

As you could see there are a lot of positives to take from the game. The way we played, the intensity we showed, the way we were trying to show who we are as a team. But at the same time, it’s just a test match. Don’t get carried away. There are still a lot of things that we have to get better at, and do better. But I think it’s good to get some momentum, finish the tour in the right way, give some enjoyment to our fans and everybody that’s been contributing to make this tour happen. Now it’s time to go back to London, to focus and keep making improvements and steps forwards.

There is only one more pre-season game before we kick off the new season. We face Sevilla at the Emirates next weekend and after that it’s our trip to Crystal Palace to kick off the new campaign, so all these minutes are important. If the lads can take a confidence boost from doing that to Chelsea, all well and good, but the main thing is getting as many players fully fit and fully ready as possible.

The manager was asked about squad depth, and said:

We are where we are. Obviously, at the moment we have injuries, you can see that we are still a little bit short in some positions for the way that we want to play but it is something that we are trying to address. We have increased the quality of the team for sure and the level of the squad is obviously something that we want to keep raising.

In terms of fitness, the three main issues are Takehiro Tomiyasu, Fabio Vieira and Kieran Tierney. The former is expected back in training next week; Vieira has an ankle issue which might take a bit longer; while Oleksandr Zinchenko’s arrival adds some depth there.

Nuno Tavares has been linked with Atalanta again, but I do wonder if that might be something we do a bit later in the window, even if with two more senior men ahead of him in the pecking order it looks like he’ll have to go somewhere else to play regularly this season.

The presence of William Saliba, about whom Arteta spoke very highly post-game, does make the Tomiyasu absence a little less worrying. The fact that Ben White can play right-back in a similar style to the Japan international means Saliba at centre-half and White pushed out means you don’t have that issue we did last season when Cedric was the man called upon to deputise. If not quite chalk and cheese, he and Tomiyasu definitely give you different things in that position, but obviously having Tomi back fully fit would be the perfect solution.

Right, I’m gonna go watch the highlights properly, have yourselves a great Sunday.

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