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Chelsea 5-0 Wrexham: Maatsen, Gallagher, Nkunku & Chilwell begin Pochettino era with pre-season win



(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

Chelsea defeated Wrexham 5-0 to begin their 2023 pre-season with a win in the Florida Cup at the Kenan Memorial Stadium.

Mauricio Pochettino took charge of his first game as Blues boss and emerged victorious against Phil Parkinson’s side in the United States.

Chelsea got off to a quick-fire start thanks to some excellent play from Senegalese forward Nicholas Jackson, the 22-year-old set up Ian Maatsen and he was able to convert just three minutes into proceedings.

The first-half continued in pretty even fashion in North Carolina, Wrexham looked to utilise the long throw and Elliot Lee tried the spectacular but it was the Blues who found the next goal. Maatsen struck once again before the interval and doubled the lead.

Over the half-time break, Pochettino made substitutions, with star signing from RB Leipzig Christopher Nkunku entering the fray.

The game rather fizzled out in the second-half, both sides had chances, but it took until the 80th minute for another goal to be scored, substitute Gallagher hit a low shot from outside of the area and Rob Lainton failed to keep it out.

Nkunku and Chilwell rounded the game off in style for Chelsea, they both scored in final moments of the game and they secured a comfortable win for the Blues in their opening game of the Florida Cup.

Pochettino fielded a youthful starting XI that included summer signings Jackson and Diego Moreira, as well as Malo Gusto, Cesare Casadei and Andrey Santos.

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Following the wretched nature of last season, Chelsea looked to get off to a strong start in their first pre-season game, and they did exactly that.

New signing Jackson went on crafty run in the opening minutes of the contest and was able to tee up Maatsen. The 21-year-old, who spent last season on loan with Burnley, fired past Ben Foster and put the Blues into the lead.

Wrexham looked to put some pressure back on the west London side after conceding so early on, and they did get forward well, but Chelsea were able to put together some sharp counter-attacks.

The main opportunities that fell to the Welsh team came from long throws, and in the 31st minute they had their biggest chance, Anthony Forde headed over the crossbar from close range and nearly found the equaliser.

While the tempo of the match had begun to slow down and the half-time whistle was drawing closer, the Blues were able to grab another goal. Once again it was Maatsen who hit a drilled strike from the edge of the area, with Chukwuemeka the provider this time.

The whistle for half-time did sound a few minutes later with the Blues cruising at 2-0, and although the performance will have no doubt pleased Pochettino, he was angry with the referee who he felt had stopped a dangerous counter-attack by blowing for the break.

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During the interval, the Argentine opted to make six changes, £52 million attacker Nkunku came on and Ben Chilwell, Raheem Sterling, Alfie Gilchrist, Conor Gallagher and Angelo Gabriel were also introduced. Pochettino also made the decision to shift to a back three.

It was the Welsh side who came out the gates quicker in the second half, Paul Mullin burst forward down the right-hand side in the 46th minute, but he dragged his effort well wide and did not force Jamie Cumming into a save.

The first yellow card of the game was dished out just before the hour mark after a chopping challenge on Thomas O’Connor from Italian midfielder Casadei.

(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

Pochettino once again decided to look to his bench in the second half, introducing Lewis Hall in a midfield role, replacing Santos.

Although the pace of the match dropped as the game wore on, the Blues were still able to create openings, in the 70th minute a wonderful delivery from Angelo met the head of Sterling but the England international was unable to keep his effort down and missed from close range.

Ten minutes on from this Sterling was involved once again, this time he was the creator, he combined with fellow countryman, Gallagher, who’s rather tame strike nestled in the corner of the net after Lainton let it slip through.

Things got worse for Wrexham in the closing moments of the contest, as Nkunku broke through the defence and was able to take it past the goalkeeper and add a fourth.

Chelsea were not quite done there though, with the final kick of the game, Chilwell lifted a delicate lob over Lainton.

The final whistle sounded, and next up for Chelsea they take on Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday night.