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What Raheem Sterling did to Gabriel Jesus as Tuchel and Chelsea mistakes made clear vs. Arsenal

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What Raheem Sterling did to Gabriel Jesus as Tuchel and Chelsea mistakes made clear vs. Arsenal

Anyone of a Chelsea persuasion will hope not to linger too long on the Blues’ 4-0 defeat to Arsenal on Saturday evening. Gabriel Jesus, Martin Odegaard, Bukayo Saka and Albert Sambi Lokonga ensured Chelsea’s tour of the USA ended on a sour note with Thomas Tuchel’s side unable to build on their opening victory over Club America.

It was a simple assessment from the Chelsea boss: “I think we deserved to lose – which is fair enough – because we were simply not good enough. We were absolutely not competitive. The worrying part is the level of commitment, physically and mentally, for this match was not the same, it was far higher for Arsenal than us.”

With less than two weeks remaining until the start of the Premier League season it would have been reassuring to see a more accomplished performance. Nevertheless there is a lot that can be learned from the 90 minutes and what Tuchel had to say following the game at the Camping World Stadium,

football.london takes a look at the talking points from Chelsea’s defeat below:

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First team hint?

With the game taking place less than two weeks before the opening exchanges of Chelsea’s season against Everton, it would be understandable that the Blues’ final match of the USA tour could provide some indication of Tuchel’s plans going forward. Edouard Mendy, Reece James, Trevoh Chalobah, Thiago Silva, Emerson Palmieri, Conor Gallagher, Jorginho, Mason Mount, Raheem Sterling, Kai Havertz and Timo Werner started against the Gunners as Chelsea’s German coach opted for a strong XI.

The decision to make use of a back four perhaps hinted that this would not be the final product the Blues would present in a couple of weeks time, and following the match Tuchel highlighted this was not his strongest team. However, six players played for a period longer than 45 minutes, which suggests they are capable and/or require the minutes in their legs. It would be no surprise to see Mendy, James, Silva, Jorginho, Mount and Havertz all start against the Toffees on the opening day.

Ben Chilwell proved to be the only outfield player not to receive any minutes from the squad named against Arsenal.

Understandable in some respects given the time he already has under his belt, and the Blues having two other left backs in the squad at the moment. A decision that may appear more surprising given some of Tuchel’s comments that will be touched upon later however.

Chelsea do not need to be ready yet, and another friendly against Udinese this coming week will provide another chance for Tuchel’s men to both prove and improve their readiness. The Premier League season is coming quickly however.

Chelsea were simply not at the same level as Arsenal on Saturday evening. From the moment Raheem Sterling clattered into Gabriel Jesus within the first minute it showed the Blues were not quite reacting quickly enough to assert their presence on the match.

Conor Gallagher gave away numerous fouls in the opening stages while Chelsea could not string together a set of passes to launch a true attack and more frequently put themselves in a vulnerable position. Trevoh Chalobah’s misplaced pass was backed up by another from Edouard Mendy as the Blues became the suppliers for Arsenal’s best attacks as the Gunners went 2-0 up.

The west London side scarcely appeared able to acclimatise to the match and frankly did not look up to speed. There remains time for the club to improve in time for the Premier League kick off but the difference between Arsenal having played four pre-season friendlies and Chelsea just two, was evident. Both sides have one more match in their schedule, but it’s clear the Blues have more to do.

Thomas Tuchel on wantaway players

“I can not guarantee. I saw today a team in Arsenal who are mentally committed to an idea of playing, a level of exhaustion, a level of physical commitment that we could not match. Also, a level of mental commitment that we lacked because we have a lot of players who are thinking about leaving and looking at their options. We have players that have left and I think at the moment that’s obvious.”

A problematic comment from the Chelsea boss in a number of ways, and somewhat confusing. Tuchel is rarely afraid of presenting the truth in press conferences but his criticism of those who have their eyes on an alternative home opens himself up to critique. The Blues boss sent the likes of Billy Gilmour and Harvey Vale to play with the development squad and kept a host of players who are unlikely to see their futures with the first team this season. The 48-year-old did not have to rely on those players he is speaking about, and perhaps did not even need to bring them on the tour at all. For example, Marcos Alonso has long been linked with a move away from the club but was brought on in the second period when Ben Chilwell was still an option.

To exacerbate the point, only earlier in the week Tuchel spoke about not necessarily granting the wish of Cesar Azpilicueta to depart Stamford Bridge. While the Blues’ captain character cannot be questioned, it’s not a line of thought that consistently matches up with the former Dortmund coach’s words following the Arsenal defeat.

Who retains their place when Chelsea face Udinese will be very telling.

Transfers required

It’s clear Tuchel is not content with where his squad are at, even with the addition of Raheem Sterling and Kalidou Koulibaly. The Blues are still in the hunt for more defenders, with Tuchel citing that he did not have the players to start the game with three central defenders. The German coach hoped for urgent additions.

He said: “I would prefer to not be right and I did everything to prove myself wrong, but at the moment I feel I was right when I look at the last season and at the parts of the game where we struggled and how we struggled.

“We got sanctioned and players left us, we know that some players are trying to leave us, and this is where it is. We had an urgent appeal for quality players and a huge amount of quality players. We’ve got two quality players – that is no doubt – but we are not competitive like this and unfortunately, we could see it today.”

While reinforcing the defence is clearly still a priority, Tuchel’s response to question on Chelsea’s forward struggles was telling. He said: “Listen, it’s the same players, so why should anything change? We will see hopefully development but at the moment, we have the same issues because we have the same players.”

While Jules Kounde would appear to be in the crosshairs at the moment, it should not be forgotten Chelsea were targeting Raphinha, and that more work may be required going forward.

Levi Colwill’s chance

Ahead of Chelsea’s friendly against Charlotte FC, Thomas Tuchel said: “With Levi, it is too early to give an answer. What I will say now, I maybe have to take back or give another opinion in a few weeks, I simply haven’t seen enough of him in our group. He got a bit of an injury and was out of training for several days. Once you are out it takes a while to catch up against especially those who aren’t used to that level.

“The fact he is still here is very easy we don’t know him enough so he needs to stay here. We need more impressions of him to get a better outlook on the situation. But like what Chalobah did last season, everyone is invited to do the same.”

The young central defender was in attendance in Florida, but once again was only fit enough for a space on the sideline having suffered a knock. There will be time at Cobham for the former Huddersfield Town loanee to impress his coach but his time to show what he is capable of this season is already compressed. Udinese may be the final opportunity with a big decision still to make. With only Koulibaly having been added to Chelsea’s defensive ranks so far, that chance does still remain.

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