In their opening match of the new season under new manager Frank Lampard, Chelsea clearly felt the after-effects of Eden Hazard and David Luiz’s exits coupled with the transfer ban as they were bruised, battered and humiliated 4-0 by a new-look Manchester United side who began their quest for the title in superb fashion.
The score-line however, does not depict the entire story as Chelsea were actually the better of the two sides in the first half where United took the surprise lead through Rashford as Chelsea conceded a penalty against the run of play, before completely blowing it in the second as Manchester United tore them apart, grabbing a foothold on the game, pressing hard, and making their chances count.
The Chelsea players have a bit of soul searching to do before their next fixture against Liverpool in the UEFA Super Cup Final, and the fans and manager alike will be hopeful that the likes of these big names step up for the club to keep their much loved blue flag flying high.
- Ross Barkley – There was a lot of buzz surrounding Barkley this pre-season as the England international scored four goals and collected three assists. However, cometh the moment, in a crucial season opener against old foes United, he was unable to influence the game, failing to live up to the expectations of fans and pundits alike.Chelsea desperately require him to step up and combine with the likes of Pedro, Pulisic, and youngsters Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham if they want to beat Liverpool, whom they face tomorrow. Barkley’s performance will be key to Chelsea’s attacking build-up and he might provide the much-required edge to Chelsea’s midfield in the high octane thriller coming their way mid-week.
- Antonio Rudiger – Antonio Rudiger only recently returned to training, but the 26-year-old German footballer has a huge task in front of him when he gets back. With David Luiz’s surprise exit, Chelsea will look at Rudiger to step up and lead the back four as he is now the senior-most centre-back in the team. He was impressive last season and looked set to be Chelsea’s best centre-back. However, with Chelsea finding themselves with their back against the wall early in the season, Rudiger will find little time in his hand to show the club and its fans that he is a world-class defender.
- N’Golo Kante – In his brief stint against United in the weekend, Kante looked like a shadow of his former self as Daniel James, on his Manchester United debut, dazzled past him down the left-flank in spectacular fashion, making the World Cup-winning midfielder look very ordinary. For Chelsea to return to winning ways and having a good season, Kante must get back to being his usual self and take control of the midfield in crucial games like he has done umpteen times in the past for his club. We have now come to know that he is struggling with injury and might well sit out of the Super Cup. But Lampard needs the midfielder back to his best as soon as possible.