10 Things to Watch out for in Chelsea's Pre-Season Tour

Garry HayesFeatured ColumnistJuly 12, 2014

10 Things to Watch out for in Chelsea's Pre-Season Tour

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    Kirsty Wigglesworth/Associated Press

    Chelsea returned to pre-season training this week as Jose Mourinho and his players started preparations for their assault on the 2014/15 Premier League campaign.

    There were some notable absentees on the first day back as those players who competed in the World Cup were given extra time to rest.

    The likes of Cesc Fabregas, Gary Cahill and Eden Hazard will, however, gradually return over the coming weeks to take part in Chelsea's pre-season campaign.

    Unlike other years when the club has visited the Far East and US, Chelsea have opted for a quieter schedule this summer, remaining in Europe to play friendlies more close to home.

    They kick things off with a trip to League Two Wycombe Wanderers on July 16, following it up with a friendly match against west London neighbours AFC Wimbledon on July 19.

    Here are 10 things to watch out for throughout the Blues' pre-season tour.

New Systems

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    Matt Dunham/Associated Press

    The World Cup may have distracted many of us, but not Jose Mourinho.

    The Chelsea manager has been busy reshaping his squad since the end of 2013/14, adding Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa.

    Frank Lampard, Ashley Cole and Davis Luiz have all departed for pastures new, also.

    With new personnel, Mourinho will be eager to try new systems during the pre-season, drilling his players relentlessly on the training pitch before trying things out in friendly matches.

    Working predominantly from Chelsea's Cobham training ground, not having to juggle training with a grueling travel schedule, Mourinho will be well placed to do just that.

Thibaut Courtois vs. Petr Cech

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    Thanassis Stavrakis/Associated Press

    Returning from his three-year loan spell with Atletico Madrid, Thibaut Courtois is expected to give Petr Cech the first real challenge he has had for the No. 1 jersey at Stamford Bridge.

    Courtois' emergence is similar to when Cech first joined Chelsea in 2004. The Czech stopper had a growing reputation and so much was expected, although it was still a shock when he immediately replaced Carlo Cudicini as first choice.

    Jose Mourinho was the manager who made that bold move back then and he will be faced with another decision to make this summer: Cech or Courtois?

    When the latter reports for training after his post-World Cup holiday, it will be interesting to see who Mourinho opts for as his goalkeeper in Chelsea's friendly matches.

    Let battle commence.

Young Talent

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    Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

    Given so many first-team players are yet to return to Chelsea after the World Cup, we can expect to see plenty of youngsters given their chance in the early part of pre-season.

    The likes of Dominic Solanke and Andreas Christensen have been training under the guidance of Jose Mourinho this week and it's expected the Blues' manager will use some of them in the early games.

    Given Chelsea are the reigning FA Youth Cup winners, it will be exciting to see how these young stars perform.

Demba Ba's Fortunes

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    Jon Super/Associated Press

    With Fernando Torres, Diego Costa and Romelu Lukaku all away on international duty at the World Cup this summer, Demba Ba is the only recognised first-team striker in pre-season training for Chelsea right now.

    It means the Senegalese has free reign almost, knowing he is all but guaranteed a place in Chelsea's early line-ups.

    How will he perform? Without his rivals around him, will it mean the pressure is off for Ba?

    If so, and he finds some form, he could well play his way back into Jose Mourinho's thoughts.

    It's going to be interesting to see how things develop in the coming weeks for the striker.

More Ins and Outs

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    Hassan Ammar/Associated Press

    Now Chelsea are at home for the next six weeks ahead of the Premier League kick-off, it should mean business is somewhat easier to conduct.

    Jose Mourinho will be in close proximity to his chief executive Ron Gourlay and the Blues will have plenty of time to plan their moves for other transfer targets.

    Will Paul Pogba be among them?

    According to Ashley Clements of the Daily Mail, the French midfield ace was spotted in west London this week and a move could be on the cards.

    Regardless of Pogba, there will be plenty more action in the transfer market for Chelsea, with players coming and going.

The Return of the Jose Mourinho Show

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    Andres Kudacki/Associated Press

    Now the World Cup is all but over, club football will be the focus from now until the next international break in September.

    With Chelsea playing eight games between now and the start of the new Premier League campaign, it also means at least eight press conferences with Jose Mourinho.

    That's eight opportunities for the media to have direct contact with the Chelsea manager after two months of nothing.

    With so many issues in the game, he will no doubt be asked for his opinions. And as ever, we can be sure he will deliver his usual frank assessments.

How Chelsea Cope Without Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole

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    Bogdan Maran/Associated Press

    It's hard to stomach for most Chelsea fans, but this will be the first pre-season since 2006 that the Blues haven't had Ashley Cole and Frank Lampard among their number.

    The pair were released after last season, their contracts expiring.

    Cole has since joined Roma, while Lampard's future remains unclear.

    In the coming weeks we will see how Chelsea cope without two legends at the club.

    It will take some getting used to for supporters at least.

The Fitness of Diego Costa

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    Frank Augstein/Associated Press

    Now he is a Chelsea player, the focus has shifted to Diego Costa's fitness.

    We saw in the World Cup that the niggling injuries suffered at the back end of last season were still impacting him, so with rest and time out of the spotlight, will he have recovered?

    Jose Mourinho will certainly hope so as Diego Costa is the man he has pinned much of his hopes for next season.

    How will he cope in Chelsea's friendlies? Will he be sharp and ready for a grueling Premier League campaign?

    These questions and more will be answered soon enough.

How Chelsea Fans Welcome Cesc Fabregas

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    Manu Fernandez/Associated Press

    We all know Cesc Fabregas' history with Chelsea—he was an Arsenal player, after all.

    The Blues face Real Sociedad at Stamford Bridge on Aug. 12, which will be the first time the Spaniard would have turned out on home soil in Chelsea colours.

    Judging by social media, the reaction to his signing has been a positive one, although the real acid test comes when he is stood before the home crowd.

    Will he be an instant hero? Or will Chelsea fans hold his past against him until he proves himself at Stamford Bridge?

The Future of Romelu Lukaku

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    Lefteris Pitarakis/Associated Press

    There has been plenty of jesting over the past year or so and now Jose Mourinho and Romelu Lukaku will come face-to-face once more when the striker returns from his Everton loan.

    Will Lukaku remain as bullish in front of his manager? Or will he be willing to listen to how Mourinho sees his role in the team?

    Mourinho is a manager who doesn't take kindly to players attempting to impose themselves on him.

    It's either his way or the highway and unless Lukaku agrees to toe the party line, his Chelsea career will end rather quickly.

    There is still plenty of drama to come from this saga, so sit back and enjoy Mourinho vs. Lukaku.

    It may well be the highlight of pre-season.

     

    Garry Hayes is Bleacher Report's lead Chelsea correspondent. Follow him on Twitter @garryhayes