Football

Should Chelsea's pre-season form worry fans?

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With pre-season coming to an end, it's hard not to look at the performances of Chelsea in North America, and wonder how they're going to fare this weekend against Arsenal, let alone throughout the Premier League season.

Is it all completely meaningless, or is there something to worry about going into 2015/16?

It's widely accepted that in general terms, pre-season means nothing. Managers are testing out new formations and combinations, and thus the emphasis is not on winning the game at all costs, but on getting match fit, and seeing what works well within the squad.

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As we saw when Chelsea played Barcelona for example, Chelsea started a 19-year-old Brazilian by the name of Kenedy who had never played for them before, and is still on the Fluminese books. While he performed admirably on the pitch, it's never going to happen in a competitive match.

Similarly in the match against PSG, with ten minutes to go and the score tied at 1-1 the French champions brought on a flurry of youngsters. Obviously, it wasn't all about the result.

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Another point to be made is that pre-season results are generally by no means reflective of how the season will pan out.

Manchester United had an unbeaten run of pre-season games going into last year's Premier League, beating European giants Real Madrid, Inter Milan, Valencia and Roma. They also beat Liverpool.

Despite this they were unimpressive for large spells of last season, their end of season points tally of 70 was actually quite flattering, and they were never truly challenging for the title as many expected.

Deeper concerns?

On the back of all this, it would seem that nothing is amiss for Chelsea. But the truth is, Chelsea did try to win against both PSG and Barcelona.

While Laurent Blanc was bringing on the likes of Hervin Ongenda, Youssouf Sabaly and J.C. Bahebeck at around the 70 minute mark, Chelsea were throwing on Falcao, Remy, Willian, and Oscar for Matic.

The likes of Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Dominic Solanke and Bertrand Traore remained firmly on the bench.

Similarly, at the death against Barcelona, Moses and Falcao were both brought on to hunt for a goal, while Luis Enrique opted for youngsters on his Barca bench. In light of this, the results become slightly less impressive.

The other thing that became apparent during their stay in North America was how they continue to be without proper cover for Matic and Fabregas. Ramires seems to get worse every time he plays, Mikel is realistically not a world-class level back up.

Midfield issues

Against PSG, Fabregas started in a number 10 position higher up the pitch, and the build up play from the back, through Mikel and Matic, was definitively sluggish. Worryingly, this still seems to be Mourinho's current go-to duo for a more defensive lineup. Ramires would add a spark of energy, but as mentioned he seems to be more of a liability these days.

As for Loftus-Cheek, he appears to be in some sort of Mourinho-limbo, moving from 'he'll play a big part next year', to 'he is nowhere near ready to play for us yet'. The strange part is I'm barely paraphrasing. He barely featured throughout pre-season, playing only one half against New York Red Bulls, in which he didn't exactly stand out.

To summarise, fans shouldn't be worried by the results, nor their apparent lack of competitive readiness. What they should be worried about is that before the season has even started they're already showing the same weaknesses as last year, and Mourinho doesn't seem to want to dip into the transfer market to strengthen.

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Topics:
Premier League
Jose Mourinho
Chelsea
Football

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