Thomas Tuchel had plenty of reasons to be cheerful following our latest pre-season exercise, a 2-1 victory over Arsenal that saw a number of players involved for the first time this summer.
Those who had been knocked out of Euro 2020 at the round of 16 stage returned to Cobham a couple of weeks ago and were back in match action at the Emirates in our opening game of the Mind Series.
That group included the German duo of Timo Werner and Kai Havertz, who combined for the opening goal, as well as fellow starters Toni Rudiger, Kurt Zouma and Mateo Kovacic. N’Golo Kante was a second-half substitute.
Tammy Abraham netted a cool winner with 18 minutes remaining following Granit Xhaka’s headed equaliser, and Tuchel’s assessment of his side’s performance focused on physical improvements as well as the scoreline.
‘We suffered in some minutes against the quality and speed of Arsenal but they have already played four games this pre-season so that was normal,’ reflected the boss afterwards.
‘I was very happy with the performance in the first half and we won it deservedly because we could have scored a second or third goal. The second half was a bit wild where we conceded some big chances and also had some big chances, especially to go 2-0 up with Hakim [Ziyech].
‘In the end, it was a good test because it was physically very demanding and we have a good result, which is always nice to keep the momentum going and have a good spirit.’
Tuchel conceded that pre-season preparations have been and remain challenging, with our six Euro 2020 finalists set to report back to Cobham tomorrow, nine days before our Super Cup clash with Villarreal and less than a fortnight prior to the Premier League opener at home to Crystal Palace.
Tottenham’s visit to Stamford Bridge on Wednesday evening represents another opportunity to get minutes into legs, though the Chelsea head coach claims many of his players will continue to work to different physical loading programmes in the days to come.
‘After a long season that came without a pause before it, and with all the summer tournaments, it’s a pretty unique and demanding preparation for us,’ he admitted.
‘It’s challenging to organise. We will have four different groups of players on the training pitch tomorrow because they are all in a different physical condition and we cannot simply put them together and see what happens.
‘It was good that we had the guys out there today for the first time and playing 45 minutes. It was a pretty tough one against Arsenal and normally you want a slightly easier opponent but in two weeks the season starts and before then we play Villarreal in the Super Cup so somehow we need to manage it.’