July 25, 2013
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Chelsea has handled its business in its first two games of an Asian tour, defeating Singha All-Stars and Malaysian XI by a combined scored of 5-1. Now, the team turns its attention to the BNI Indonesia All-Stars.
While the actual result should be a foregone conclusion in Chelsea's favor, there will be plenty of reasons to watch the Blues in action. Let's preview this preseason friendly.
When: Thursday, July 25, at 9 a.m. ET (2 p.m. GMT)
Where: Gelora Bung Karno Stadium, Jakarta, Indonesia
Streaming: Chelsea TV
What They're Saying
Chelsea may only be in its preseason form, but Jose Mourinho's mind games are already in midseason form.
In this week's edition of "Jose's Thoughts," the new (and old) Chelsea manager turned his focus to Manuel Pellegrini and Manchester City, saying the Citizens should be the Premier League favorites this season.
From Kevin Palmer of ESPN, Mourinho said:
"In my first spell you were always putting pressure on me saying: ‘You buy this, you spend that, you buy the title’. So I hope now it is on the other side,” said Mourinho, who had earlier denied playing mind games with rival managers following his return to Chelsea.
I know the players City have bought and they are players without surprises. They are more than ready. If you see their ages, their maturity, they are in the perfect moment of their career to go to England. They have no need for adaptation, no need of work to learn the project. They are players at the top of their careers, experienced but still young, so I think they’ve bought very, very well.
So of course people should be expecting more of them, with their experience, than my young team. Young players are not at the best they will be. They need to learn, they need time to get to the top.
[Jesus] Navas and [Alvaro] Negredo are two world champions, two European champions. [Stevan] Jovetic has been one of the best in Serie A for more than two years. Fernandinho has big experience. They bought very well. That doesn’t surprise me, because they have the money to buy, but also the knowledge. They have people in the club that know a lot about football.
Mourinho isn't wrong, of course—with these signings, City should be the favorites. But you can bet he would love nothing more than all eyes, and, thus, all the pressure on Manchester City to start the season, not on his Chelsea side.
It looks like Mourinho is getting himself into "manager shape" before the season begins with these comments. The players aren't the only ones getting themselves fit.
Player to Watch: Romelu Lukaku, Chelsea
Perhaps, the most interesting thing to watch this summer—and this season, for that matter—will be who wins the striker battle, with Romelu Lukaku, Demba Ba and Fernando Torres all available. If Wayne Rooney doesn't make the switch to Chelsea as has been rumoured, as discussed recently by Dominic Fifield of The Guardian, the center-forward position will be out there for the taking.
Lukaku scored 17 goals for West Brom last season and has plenty of motivation to have a big year for Chelsea, both trying to earn a starting gig with club and country, as Christian Benteke also plays for Belgium.
He won't start for Chelsea in this game, as Ba will get the nod, but expect Lukaku to see the pitch at some point.
He's already looked good during this preseason tour, with two goals and two assists in Chelsea's first two games. He very well could be Chelsea's answer at the forward position, a pretty big question for all of last season.
Well, if that Rooney fellow doesn't make the switch to Stamford Bridge, that is.
More to Watch For
Several of Chelsea's youngsters looking to solidify a more consistent role on the first team will be on display, including Victor Moses and Josh McEachran. As well, 17-year-old Bertrand Traore turned a few heads after scoring against Malaysian XI.
It will be interesting to see if Frank Lampard will return from injury and play on Thursday, while all eyes will continue to rest on the team's top signing from this summer, forward Andre Schurrle. Can he earn one of the three forward spots behind the central striker?
For that matter, can Kevin de Bruyne—who was sent home with an injury after the last game—or will Eden Hazard, Juan Mata and Oscar remain the incumbents?
The latter two players aren't on this tour, but they'll be hard to unseat. There are spots to be won for Chelsea this year, and playing well on this tour won't hurt anyone's chances. That's for sure.
This should be a walk in the park for the Blues. Chelsea wins, 5-0.
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