Chelsea’s pre-season faces a contrasting challenge later today with an all-London clash in Florida concluding the United States tour 2022.

After matches against Mexican side Club America and local MLS outfit Charlotte, both of whom are in the middle of their domestic seasons, we face a Gunners side very much at the same stage of preparations for the Premier League season ahead, which kicks off earlier than usual due to the midwinter World Cup in Qatar.

Ben Chilwell is one of the players aiming to be on the England plane for that tournament but before then comes the important task of starting the season well for Chelsea, having missed a large part of 2021/22 due to injury.

‘Whether it's pre-season or not, matches against Arsenal are a rivalry and we want to win,’ Chilwell tells us as he looks ahead to this weekend’s game.

‘The first two matches we could definitely tell both teams were used to the conditions we played in whereas we're not. But it's good for us as a team fitness-wise, playing against two teams that are mid-season and were fighting to try to beat us. Playing against Chelsea gave them motivation and playing in that heat as well, the effect on our fitness is going to bode well for us going into the season.’

On a personal level, Chilwell started his pre-season earlier than the vast majority of his team-mates, to work on his condition having only returned in the closing minutes of the final game of last season following knee surgery.

‘All pre-seasons are pretty important but coming off the back of the injury I've had, it's important I work harder than everyone else, to make sure I'm ready when the season starts,’ he says.

‘When the boys came back in I felt sharp and fit and ready to go and that's continued now. So I'm very happy and looking forward to hopefully starting the season on a strong note. Hopefully we can have a great season together.’

With the game in Charlotte midweek decided by a penalty shoot-out, Chilwell was one of the players who stepped up to take a spot-kick, as he had done in the Carabao Cup last season.

‘I enjoy it,’ he reveals. ‘The pressure has got to be on someone and we've got a lot of personalities in our team who are quite happy to step up. If I'm ever asked I always put my hand up and say that I’m confident to take that one.’

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