This Saturday Chelsea will make the short trip across South West London to Kingsmeadow to face AFC Wimbledon in their second pre-season friendly of the Summer. Although there are no points at stake in this game, it will be another good chance for Jose Mourinho to have a look at his younger crop of players, as well as those who have returned from various loan spells. There are also, to an extent, a certain amount of bragging rights up for grabs, given the location of both clubs.
The Blues will be hoping for a similar display to the one seen at Wycombe Wanderers on Wednesday. Chelsea ran out 5-0 winners in a game where the only real negative was an injury to youngster Todd Kane. With many of Chelsea’s first team stars still on holiday after their respective World Cup campaigns, we are likely to again see a team made up of mostly Under 21’s and Academy players. There will be some first team players making up the numbers, such as two of Wednesday’s goalscorers, John Terry and Branislav Ivanovic.
One youngster who will be eager to get on the pitch and impress once more is the previous game’s star man Izzy Brown. The 17-year-old attacking midfielder, who you may not have known is also the second youngest player to play in the Premier League after appearing for West Brom, put in a fantastic performance and filled the void left by David Luiz in terms of great goals and great hair. Another of Chelsea’s rising stars who we can expect to see on Saturday, Patrick Bamford, continued to impress as he did in his previous two loan spells at MK Dons and Derby County, and was rewarded for his effort and movement with the game’s opening goal. It is no wonder that Jose is said to want to see him tested in the Premier League in his next loan spell. Oriol Romeu, who has signed a new three-year contract, is also likely to feature in central midfield.
AFC Wimbledon, who have the honour of being the youngest club in the Football League, were formed 12 years ago after Wimbledon FC relocated and changed their name to MK Dons. Although it was said at the time that it was the best solution to the club’s financial problems, fans were unhappy that their club was moved 56 miles north and that they had effectively lost all of their history and traditions. To keep the spirit of their club alive, the fans formed a ‘phoenix club’ and entered the ninth tier of English football in 2002, holding open trials on Wimbledon Common in order to assemble a team. The club, formally named as AFC Wimbledon, went from strength to strength, culminating in their promotion to the Football League 2 for the 2011-2012 season. AFC Wimbledon currently play at Kingsmeadow, a stadium that they share with the Semi-Professional team Kingstonian FC. In 2012, however, AFC Wimbledon announced plans to build a new stadium.
The club’s manager, Neal Ardley, is relatively new to the First Team Manager position, AFC Wimbledon being his first of such roles, but he has been known by the club’s fanbase for a long time, rising through the youth ranks of the original Wimbledon FC in the early nineties. One player to look out for in the AFC Wimbledon set up is striker Adebayo Akinfenwa, who signed from Gillingham this summer and who, for those that are interested, had the highest srength statistic of any player in the world in EA’s FIFA 14.
One player who definitely won’t be featuring for The Blues in this game is striker Demba Ba, who was today (friday) confirmed to have signed for Turkish club Besiktas. We’d like to wish Demba all the best in his career going forward and to thank him for his contribution to Chelsea, most notably the decisive goals he scored against Manchester