Chelsea started the new season where they left off the old one – with a loss to Arsenal at Wembley. A glorified pre-season friendly, the Community Shield sets expectations for the upcoming season amongst supporters. Another loss suggests that panic is about to set in and the sky is dangling perilously above our heads, ready to fall.
Here are the talking points from a depressing day out at Wembley.
- Incompetence: If this was the curtain raiser to the Premier League, we are about to see some very dodgy calls and inexplicable decisions from the men in the middle. At some point a referee will need to learn the difference between players taking a tumble in the box and players whose limbs have been struck by an opponent’s knee, causing them to lose balance. To paint both with the same yellow coloured brush is grossly unfair and reeks of incompetence. And while we’re at it, the Pedro sending off was harsh. There. I said it.
- Midfield Muddle: With Matic gone and Bakayoko injured, Fabregas and Kante started as the strongest available midfield pairing, which does not bode well for the start of the season. If we don’t get another midfielder sharpish, I can see us stuttering and losing control in the middle of the pitch in many more games.
- Half-time Heroes: As was the norm last season, Chelsea started strongly after the break and took the lead almost immediately. Perhaps Conte should make them start the first half after his hair-dryer treatment too.
- Michy Makes His Case: Although he did not score, Batshuayi had a solid outing and might have done enough to stay at Chelsea this season. His hold-up play, in particular, seems to have improved by leaps and bounds; at one point he held off around four opponents and passed the ball to a teammate.
- Penalty Panic: It was quite an unusual Chelsea lineup that took the penalties – Cahill scored, Courtois skied it and Morata’s shot was saved. The new AB-BA format might have something to do with it, or maybe Conte, like the sane ones among us, saw it as a friendly and sought to try out something new.
- Young Guns: A youthful bench might give hope to the academy at first glance but it is an indicator of the alarming lack of depth in this Chelsea squad. Any more injuries or suspensions, and we might have to call up some of the schoolboys to train with the first team.
- Shopping Spree: The board needs to get its act together and close some deals before Conte loses his rag and quits. At this point, just Drinkwater might not be enough to keep the boss cool.
Now that the last friendly is out of the way, the season starts next week when Burnley are the visitors at Stamford Bridge. Start off with a win and who knows? Conte just might be able to turn tepid water into wine again this season.