Chelsea have moved on to the Netherlands where they will face Vitesse Arnhem in the third match of their pre-season tour of Europe. The two clubs have enjoyed a close relationship in recent years, with many young Blues cutting their competitive teeth with the Eredivisie outfit.
Jose Mourinho has been pleased with the progress made by his players in pre-season so far, despite their lack of fitness. He told the official Chelsea website: "We are training a minimum of three hours every day at a high intensity, the players are tired but we need to compete even in these tough conditions. ... Winning or not winning is not the most important thing at this moment, the most important thing is to compete."
Mark Schwarzer returned to England on Friday after suffering a small muscular injury, per the Chelsea website, which could pave the way for Petr Cech to start. The Blues' No. 1 has made a remarkable recovery from the dislocated shoulder he suffered in April, and he will be itching to get back to full fitness before Thibaut Courtois returns to challenge him.
Filipe Luis should start at left-back, with Nathan Ake available to replace him. John Terry is likely to start ahead of Gary Cahill, while Kurt Zouma should occupy the other centre-half position. Cesar Azpilicueta could start in his natural right-back position to allow the versatile Branislav Ivanovic to come off the bench.
The midfield pairing of Nemanja Matic and Cesc Fabregas is one of the things that Chelsea supporters are most excited about ahead of the 2014-15 season. They got off to an excellent start in the 2-1 win over NK Olimpija Ljubljana, with Fabregas in particular putting in a solid display. As they will likely be the first-choice pairing next season, they should start together on Wednesday.
Mourinho has spoken to the Chelsea website to clarify which of the youngsters will be included in the first-team squad next season, saying:
This group of players – [Lewis] Baker, [Izzy] Brown, [Dominic] Solanke and [Jeremie] Boga – these four are not all going to be in my squad, because I cannot have 30 in my squad, but these four are going to work with us all season and these four are going to be Chelsea players.
At 16 or 17 I don’t think it’s good for them to go somewhere else to play, like in the Championship. At 17 they have to train with us and they have to learn with us. They will learn a lot.
And they can play in the Under-21s and wait for the chance to play with us now and again, in a Capital One Cup match, or an FA Cup match. ...
Officially, in the first team squad – not the Under-21s that will come to join us now and again – we have [Andreas] Christensen, [Nathan] Ake, and probably another one because I want to have one more English player.
I need an English player in my squad and I have to make a decision about that, but we are going to have in the first team squad three players coming from the Academy.
Lewis Baker will be disappointed that he will not make the first-team squad for next season, but the recognition from his future manager will give him hope. He should start in the No. 10 role to help link play between the pivot and the attacking trio.
Isaiah Brown and Mohamed Salah should start either side of Diego Costa, who put doubts about his fitness to bed with a fine performance against NK Olimpija Ljubljana. His hunger for goals was evident and the quality of his finishing much higher than has been expected of Chelsea strikers in recent years.
The close nature of the relationship between these two clubs means that there are two future Blues who could line up for the opposition. Bertrand Traore and Wallace both began season-long loans at Vitesse this year, which will give an extra dimension to this important pre-season match.