After two tune-up fixtures on opposite coasts of the continental United States, Chelsea are bunkered down in the city of brotherly love for a Wednesday evening showcase against the MLS All Stars. Fernando Torres has rejoined the squad, along with Raul Meireles, leaving our only outstanding players the Spanish duo of Juan Mata and Oriol Romeu. There have been flashes of brilliance, mired by a general lack of sharpness and fitness. At moments, we appear to transition from defense to attack in seconds, at others, we plod from side to side. Clearly, there's work to be done. But after having an easy outing in Seattle, Chelsea faced a much-improved PSG side that offered more defensive resistance than previously anticipated. The result, a very labored 1-1 draw. More, after the jump:
Fernando and the Giant
If you had to grade our collective performance thus far it would land somewhere in the realm of C+/B-. Neither good nor bad, but certainly indicative of rustiness coupled with fleeting moments of brilliance. Individual players have impressed with a selection of skills (see: Hazard, Marin) while others have been slightly disappointing. Still, I believe Roberto and the wrecking crew can be pleased thus far with what's on offer. With Fernando joining the squad it presents the very real prospect of an alternative to the Lucas Piazon masquerading as a false nine up top. Here's hoping his presence can impact Romelu Lukaku, who's performance against PSG can only be described as poor.
With regards to the PSG match, if you watched, you can summarize it better than I can. I spent the first 45 minutes with one eye on the match, the other on Skype. The second interval? Yeah, much the same, but I did make time to watch the final 15 minutes, including Lucas Piazon's well-taken goal. Tremendous moment for him, but lets not get carried away. I distinctly remember being in Dallas several years ago when a certain Franco Di Santo scored a poacher's goal against Club America. So yeah, happy as ever for the kid, but tempering my expectations to say the least. (Editors Note: I got burned severely on the Di Santo flame-out. The Doc can attest to this, I went so far as to buy a kit, which permanently resides in the back of my closet).
Piazon is, by all accounts, a decidedly different player. I was impressed by his movement and reading of the game in the final third, and could anticipate him evolving into an Inzaghi-type goal scorer in the future. With our offense presently over-loaded with playmakers that can fill the 'hole' (Hazard, Mata, Oscar, Marin, De Bruyne, Lampard) it would be prudent to develop Piazon in an alternative direction- perhaps as a striker? His inclusion in the first team is something that has many of us excited, but we shouldn't get particularly carried away with joy just yet. Let Roberto spell it out for you:
'He is still a young boy but he has been very impressive in training and in these friendly games. Playing up front as the striker is not his natural position, but in these two games he did very well and he scored a very good goal tonight. He is certainly one to watch for the future.' - RDM
Some other observations from Sunday evenings PSG fixture:
- Delighted as I always am to see John on the pitch. That standing ovation? Fantastic.
- Pastore is, in short, brilliant. Didn't realize he was as tall as he appears last year. Disappointing to miss out on him but ...
- Eden is a game changer. Simple, no filter. He didn't have the best of nights but his work rate never dropped.
- Paulo, Yossi, Hilario, all need new homes.
- The buildup to Lucas' goal was excellent. Beautiful one-two combination between him and Ramires, loved the cut and run maneuver. The strike was also brilliantly finished with the inside of his weaker foot while going to ground. He was hailed as the new Kaka last year. Maybe he'll be something better if we give him time.
- KdB is almost certain to head out on loan this season. Just not up to snuff so far, though that could all change tomorrow if he puts in a shift.
- It needs to be said again: Ashley Cole is the best in the business. Glad to see him get a run about.
- The indication that Sam Hutchinson or Nathaniel Chalobah are going to slot in as a RB alternative is false. Neither player looks particularly adept at the position, but would be fine as a third-string selection. Chelsea still need to enter the market for cover in this regard, with Todd Kane still a few years off the boil from matriculating.
- Minus the services of Danny and Fernando, Romelu has done as much as he could to solidify his stature in the rotation. He might have 'wasted' an opportunity against PSG to shine, but his work against Seattle remains. The boy is a man-child, and when he mixes that raw ability with some maturity, he will thrive.
There's more to say, certainly, but we have a preview for tomorrow that needs to go live shortly. So sit tight and more will follow. Carefree.