Chelsea sealed a 2-0 win over Fulham to win the 2023 Premier League Summer Series.
Thiago Silva put Chelsea ahead in the 20th minute after meeting Ben Chilwell’s corner, before Christopher Nkunku scored his third of pre-season with a tap-in four minutes before the half-time interval.
Mauricio Pochettino made eight changes to his team for the pre-season clash against Fulham.
First half XI: Slonina, Gusto, Silva, Humphreys, Chilwell, Santos, Enzo, Chukwuemeka, Sterling, Nkunku, Burstow
Mason Burstow was almost found by Carney Chukwuemeka in the opening couple of minutes, but his attempted through ball, which would’ve given him a chance to strike at goal, was too heavy for the youngster.
Fulham were beginning to put pressure on Chelsea early on, with three corners in quick succession, but they were unable to make any of it count.
Marco Silva was handed a hamstring scare by captain Tom Cairney. The midfielder initially shrugged it off, but on the 18th minute mark he was replaced by Bobby De Cordova-Reid.
Chelsea took the lead two minutes later through Thiago Silva. The 38-year-old powered Ben Chilwell‘s corner past Bernd Leno to give the Blues the early advantage.
Pochettino’s side nearly doubled their lead in the 30 minute. Leno parried Chilwell’s initial effort before Raheem Sterling’s rebound was deflected inches wide of the goal.
Enzo Fernandez should have extended the lead nine minutes before half time. Sterling led a Chelsea counter-attack, he played it to Christopher Nkunku who teed the Argentine up, but his first strike was straight at Leno, before placing the rebound into the side-netting.
But Nkunku did double their lead four minutes before half-time to bag his third goal of pre-season. Chukwuemeka was denied from point-blank range and the Frenchman slotted in the rebound.
Pochettino made nine changes at the break in three separate intervals due to Premier League rules at the start of the second half. Gabriel Slonina and Nkunku were the only first half survivors.
Second half XI: Slonina, James, Colwill, Chalobah, Cucurella, Gallagher, Casadei, Angelo, Nkunku, Maatsen, Jackson
Chalobah was forced into an early exit after going down injured. Pochettino used the moment to make three changes with Chalobah, Slonina and Nkunku replaced by Lucas Bergstrom, Alfie Gilchrist and Lewis Hall.
Gilchrist was kept on his toes when Marc Cucurella was blown away by Harry Wilson’s pace down the channel. The centre-back cleared a dangerous ball into the box to ensure the Blues’ lead remained at two goals.
Substitutes Lewis Hall and Nicolas Jackson almost linked up to add another for the Blues. Hall whipped a ball to the back post but Jackson could only shin a volley off target.
Bergstrom was called into action to stop De Cordova-Reid’s strike from a tight angle with 15 minutes to play.
Chelsea held on for the win in Maryland to win the 2023 Premier League Summer Series. Three wins from four, still unbeaten, it’s been a positive pre-season for Pochettino and the Blues.
They face one final test against Borussia Dortmund next week before heading back to England to complete their preparations for the opening weekend of the 2023/24 Premier League season, which is in two weeks time when they face Liverpool at Stamford Bridge on August 13.