Chelsea put in a very efficient display against London rivals Arsenal in our first pre-season friendly outside of Cobham walking away victorious with goals from Michy Batshuayi and Willian, winning 3-0 at the Beijing National Stadium.
Chelsea lined up with a very familiar side, seeing the most available version of last seasons preferred starting 11 take the field against Arsenal. Michy Batshuayi started for us in the absence of Diego Costa ahead of his imminent departure from the club, with Pedro starting ahead of an injured Hazard and Fabregas starting ahead of Nemanja Matic as he is also set to leave.
Chelsea came out of the blocks with a clear intent to dominate the game, attacking early on and getting 2 corners in the opening few minutes. Chances were coming in thick and fast for the blues, with chances from Willian and Moses in the first 10 minutes it was clear that the Chelsea side which was clearly much stronger on paper was delivering that message on the pitch too.
When our defense were asked the questions early on they remained composed and solid, it was clear that Lacazette would not be given any time to make an impression, from his first opportunity to have a serious touch on the ball when he was dispossessed in very simple fashion by N’Golo Kante, he was nullified for the vast majority of the half and this was his only real opportunity to get in a dangerous position with the ball.
The first half continued in the same fashion with Chelsea dominating the possession and finding all the chances, with a standout perfomance from Pedro who was producing some excellent moments, dominating Maitland Niles and Oxlade Chamberlain near enough every time he came up against them, with some lovely football and blistering runs, he dominated the left wing up until his collision with Ospina which resulted in him being substituted, which will have been bitter-sweet for Chelsea fans because it meant the early introduction of Jeremie Boga who we have all been waiting to see in a Chelsea shirt.
With more chances coming Chelsea’s way it was only a matter of time before we managed to put the ball in the net, and when we eventually did score from a very simple corner routine which ended up with a simple tap in for Batshuayi which was ruled as offside, which was a very dubious decision to say the least. With Boga running at the Arsenal defence and looking very comfortable doing so, creating chances for Moses and Michy on separate occasions, it was eventually in the 40th minute that an excellent turn and pass from Batshuayi through to Willian which left him just inside the box against Monreal, allowed him to find a yard of space and put away a simple finesse shot in off the right post, we finally managed to get the goal we had deserved for the whole first half.
Less than 2 minutes later N’Golo Kante picked up the ball in Arsenals half, looks up and finds Michy with a direct pass, who turned and found himself in space and slotted away a simple left foot finish into the bottom left corner, giving Chelsea a 2-0 lead and making a comeback for Arsenal really out of reach. There were not many talking points for the remainder of the half, with a few more chances for Michy and Jeremie Boga coming to no avail, the teams went down the tunnels with the Premier League Champions winning 2-0.
With only the one change for Chelsea at half time, seeing Willy Caballero replace Thibaut Courtois who had only one or two instances where he was called on in the first half given a rest, the game got back underway. Arsenal making several changes to their team.
The half started with both teams coming out of the blocks with a clear intent on getting off to a bright start, it seemed as if Arsenal may have been about to come out and make a real impact on the game, until the 49th minute when a beautiful pass from Fabregas down to Marcos Alonso on the left-wing, who cut inside and left rumored future Blue Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain on his back, traveled unchallenged into Arsenals box before cutting the ball back for Michy Batshuayi who scored a beautiful first time left footed finish from 20 yards completely out of Ospina’s reach into the top right corner, it truly was game over at the hands of the man who won us the title on the 12th of May against West Brom.
With Arsenal struggling to get into the game, the first defensive error from David Luiz, a foul right outside the box, left a very attractive opportunity from the resulting free kick, which was ultimately wasted and hit low into the wall by Olivier Giroud and after a few ricochets and mis-kicks Chelsea eventually clear the ball out of danger. Arsenal continued to apply pressure, dominating possession for 5 minutes or so in our half but nothing really came of the pressure and the clean sheet remained a likely outcome for Chelsea.
Boga was the standout man in the second half, constantly threatening the Arsenal back line and producing some beautiful footwork, and excellent judgement of when to release the ball, he was dictating a lot of our attacks and working very well with Willian and Michy.
In the 65th minute we saw the introduction of our first batch of substitues, bringing on Lewis Baker, Loic Remy, Kenedy and Fikayo Tomori, replacing Victor Moses, Michy Batshuayi, Marcos Alonso and Willian.
Baker had the most time on the ball to impress out of the new introductions, initially playing a lovely ball through to Remy who eventually run himself out of room and ran the ball out for a goal kick, and then doing very well to get in a lovely position and beat Kolasinac, who maliciously dragged him down and received a booking for his actions. Fikayo Tomori also looked very confident and composed whenever the chance came his way both defensively and offensively, not a stand out performance but definitely signs of a very high quality player.
The final batch of substitutions came on in the 76th minute, allowing a 15 minute run out for Andreas Christensen, Kyle Scott, Jake Clarke-Salter, Thomas Kalas and resting Gary Cahill, David Luiz, Cesar Azpilicueta and N’Golo Kante.
In what was a very slow final 10 minutes of the game, the squad which was now filled with all of our young prospects and accompanied by Loic Remy, we maintained our clean sheet and looked a very solid side against Arsenal who at this point certainly had a stronger squad on the field, but were unable to penetrate the Chelsea defense.
As a first look at Antonio Conte’s Chelsea side, baring in mind that we were missing the likes of Hazard, Rudiger, Bakayoko and Morata, we saw off an Arsenal side with ease, which regardless of the competition or the timing is always a difficult fixture to walk out of having dominated the other team such as we have, I am very impressed with the side and it is clear the work on the training ground is preparing the players for a difficult season to come, with a few more additions we could have a chance at surpassing the standards we set for ourselves last year. Another great takeaway is the impressive performance of Jeremie Boga, who used the chance he was given to give an excellent impression of himself to the boss and the fans, and possibly cemented his place in the Chelsea squad this year.
Written by L