Chelsea are already two games deep into their pre-season schedule after friendlies against Bohemians (1-1) and St Patrick’s Athletic (4-0) and now a squad of 24 head to Japan for games against Kawasaki Frontale and La Liga champions Barcelona. Not as many youth prospects are making the trip after impressing in Ireland with the likes of Ethan Ampadu going out on loan in the near future. Chelsea’s marquee signing Christian Pulisic will join up with the squad in due course too. Here’s what to look out for whilst Chelsea compete in Japan:
Golden Boy’s first showing
Pulisic wasn’t aboard the initial plane to Japan but will link up with the squad, hopefully before the Barcelona match. It will be the very first time that fans see the American wonderkid in a Blues shirt. The 20-year-old hasn’t really been in Dortmund’s plans this season following the announcement that he would join Chelsea in a £58m deal but he has more than impressed during his overall time in Germany. In 127 senior games, Pulisic has scored 19 and assisted 26 goals. Most recently, he helped USA to reach the final of the Gold Cup where they were defeated 1-0 by Mexico – he bagged three goals in their six matches. It’s impressive that the young star is going to link up to his new squad so soon after the tournament, maybe that’s what Chelsea fans should be most excited about – his attitude.
Wanted: Central defender
There’s a spot up for grabs this pre-season, next to David Luiz in central defence. It will be hotly contested with the range of options Frank Lampard has at his disposal. He will need to use these games to see who best suits Luiz and vice-versa. Antonio Rudiger would probably be the usual choice but his injury is set to make him miss the start of the season. In the other options, they have Fikayo Tomori who the Chelsea boss had under his wing at Derby last season, Kurt Zouma who returns from a successful Everton loan spell and Andreas Christensen who only featured eight times in the Premier League last season.
Michy or Tammy?
Another positional battle this pre-season is the one between strikers Michy Batshuayi and Tammy Abraham. I struggle to believe that Olivier Giroud is right for Lampard’s system long-term so it could be on one of these two to cement their place amongst starting reckoning. Abraham comes back from a very fruitful loan spell in the Championship with Aston Villa where he netted 26 goals in 40 appearances whilst Batshuayi has endured three different spells away from the club despite clinching the title for them back in 2017. Both are of quite the similar mould and offer a lot more of a dynamic and pacy threat to Lampard’s attack so I can only see one of them getting the nod ahead of the season’s start.