After a week of chaos, emotional meltdown, and anxiety from the fans, Chelsea finally shows up on the pitch and earned a deserved win against the Italian side, Udinese. The last couple of weeks have not been easy for Chelsea fans especially with the club missing out on several transfer targets to the “Culeros”. With the anticipation of rustiness, Chelsea’s preseason was very underwhelming, to say the least. Despite the expected lack of sharpness, Thomas Tuchel’s side was in a state of disarray. Several players that were predicted to depart, have not done so yet leaving the club inflated with disgruntled demeanours. Tonight, Chelsea was far from perfect but much sharper than they were in last week’s battering against Arsenal. The return of N’golo Kanté to the starting XI was massively felt as the veteran Frenchman was one of the stars of the show along with the new arrival, Kalidou Koulibaly. This won’t be the quote on quote last game of the preseason as another game will be played early Saturday morning where the rest of the squad will get their minutes to impress and get up to form before the new season starts next week. Before we share our post-match reactions, let us quickly briefly summarize what went down in Italy.
The match started as usual, with both testing the waters in midfield and awaiting each other’s mistakes. The Blues were the strongest of the two to get on their high horse and pin back the Italian side in their own half with our surprising yet fluid attack. Over the last month, Chelsea struggled in almost every department during the preseason. Unlike those matches, Thomas Tuchel’s side started brightly, especially down the left wing where Sterling and Mount operated. The overloading wingbacks were causing Udinese problems with Chelsea easily creating chances for their attackers. Chelsea could’ve easily been up 1 or 2 goals before the opening scoring from N’golo Kanté who performed superbly. The ice-breaker occurred in the 20th minute as Chelsea hit the Italian side on a counterattack. After driving from Udinese’s own half, N’golo slotted a perfectly powerful left-footed shot from outside the box. Despite the goal, Chelsea kept pouring on the pressure and creating chance after chance. Finally, the Blues got their second goal which came in a very Sterling-Esque fashion as the English attacker was able to smoothly first touch his way into the box after a well precise pass from Jorginho in the 37th minute. Sterling’s original shot was saved by Silvestri but Sterling was able to use his forward momentum to finish the chance in comedic style. Nevertheless, Chelsea did not go out without their flaws being showcased as the Blues conceded a clumsy goal in the 42nd minute with the goal scorer being an old Chelsea nemesis in Gerard Deulofeu.
The second half continued in the same way the prior half was left with Tuchel’s side dominating possession. The sharpness declined however as the blues were constantly giving away sloppy balls to give Udinese easy transitions. The final goal occurred in the 90th minute after wholesale changes were made to both sides. Emerson, Gilmour, Kenedy, Hudson-Odoi, and Vale were substituted on throughout the last 20 minutes. Without further ado here are the post-match reactions from the Chelsea Social crew.
Good performance overall. Poor finishing prevented it from being a rout. Mendy is a bit concerning. Sterling and Mount look superb. Kanté was back to his best and J5 did well too. Koulibaly is a monster. James is a little disappointing. CHO bright off the bench. CF spot is Broja’s to claim.
Chelsea Extra (@CFCExtra)
Overall, I’m pleased with the result and performance. Before this fixture, I was really worried that we’d be totally off it against Everton whereas now things feel a bit better. Clearly, we still need to make signings and improve the squad but at least our current players have raised their games and are looking more like their typical selves. Up the Chels, and on to Everton!
All in all, a well-performed game especially after the last few preseason games which were woeful. Sterling and Mount were causing Udinese trouble all game and that is good to see especially with Everton being next week. The reintroduction of Kanté was a big boost to the team as he got on the scoresheet along with a superb performance. Jorginho was also sharp spraying good long passes to our attack. Our backline consisted of Koulibaly, Silva, and Azpilicueta, and overall were okay. They were some shaky moments with frontline pace getting the best of both Azpilicueta and Alonso on several occasions. The Spanish duo could be on their way out so I wouldn’t read too much into our defensive errors. Hopefully, Broja impresses tomorrow in the behind-closed-dorrs because we still missed plenty of chances early on which could’ve given the blues a much more comfortable lead. Nonetheless, a good way to end the jet-lagged preseason and get things started on the horizon new season. Up to Chels!
Harrison Burridge (@hburridge2)
This was a performance in stark contrast to the ones that came before it in pre-season. The lethargy and tiredness that many noticed particularly against Arsenal was nowhere to be seen and replaced with a performance buzzing with energy and fluidity.
The front three of Mason Mount, Kai Havertz and Raheem Sterling was the perfect example of that with them free to interchange and express themselves against the Udinese defence. Sterling in particular looked to drop between the lines and offer himself at all times and whilst his finishing left something to be desired, walking away with a goal is a positive start. Havertz’s display highlighted a lot of frustrations that were apparent last season with misplaced passes and chances spurned whilst Mount was his usual workmanlike self helping the side tick.
A potential concern and one that has grown significantly over the last few weeks is the form of Edouard Mendy. His distribution and general shot stopping has been on the decline since the African Cup of Nations earlier this year and another weak save led to the Udinese goal.
However, that being said this was a big step forward for a side that were so lacklustre in the heavy defeat to Arsenal on Sunday and amid transfer worries has helped to ease the fear heading into Everton next weekend.
Written by Rey Stevinho (Rey_Blues30)
Edited by Harrison Burridge (@hburridge2)