The Chelsea squad have arrived in Thailand for the first leg of their preseason tour of Asia. They face a Singha All-Star XI on Wednesday July 17 in Jose Mourinho’s first full match in charge since his reappointment as manager.
Despite all the rhetoric about boosting the profile of the club and the “Here to Play—Here to Stay” slogan for the tour, preseason is all about finding a winning lineup ahead of the competitive matches.
This might seem like a relatively easy task, but David Moyes came a cropper against the same opposition in his first match in charge of Manchester United. The Red Devils slumped to a 1-0 defeat, which will no doubt buoy the Asian side ahead of the visit of the Europa League champions.
The Chelsea players involved in the Confederations Cup and the Under 21 World Cup have been given extra time off, and Mourinho is likely to use players who haven’t featured regularly for the Blues as he gagues the strength and depth of his squad. Romelu Lukaku has been assured of his importance and is likely to start up front, with Demba Ba and Lucas Piazon comprising the other striking options.
Nathaniel Chalobah will also be given the opportunity to live up to the reputation he earned during his season-long loan at Watford. New signing Andre Schurrle will start in the absence of Juan Mata and Oscar, with Victor Moses and Eden Hazard providing other options out wide.
Michael Essien has followed his daddy back to Chelsea and will be paired with fellow veteran Frank Lampard in the holding midfield role.The back four will miss Cesar Azpilicueta, and with David Luiz and Nathan Ake missing from the squad, there are few defensive options for Mourinho, making this the most likely starting 11 for the Blues.
This lineup gives Mourinho the opportunity to thoroughly assess the options available to him and the opportunity to implement the 4-3-3 formation that he preferred in his first spell at Stamford Bridge.
Whilst this match is only a friendly, the Especially Happy One will want to re-open his winning account as quickly as possible. A victory would give him an early edge in the managerial mind-games of the competitive season, and with several squad members looking to impress their new boss, this game carries far more interest than the usual preseason fare.
Kickoff is at 2 p.m BST (9:00 a.m. EDT), and the match will be screened live on Chelsea TV. Be sure to come back to Bleacher Report after the game for post-match reaction and analysis.