Excluding the behind closed doors game Vs Wycombe which included Yossi Benayoun’s masterclass, Andre Villas-Boas takes his surprisingly unchanged squad to Fratton Park, a place which holds good memories in the hearts of the Chelsea faithful.
Apart from Frank Arnesen’s clinical poaching of Chelsea fringe players and bids testing the resolve of Tottenham and wantaway player Modric , CFC have been quiet in this summers’ transfer market. However, if reports are to be believed , this is due to a coy AVB thoroughly assessing targets such as Modric, Moutinho, Dann and Falcao. The fact AVB appears to be conducting his own transfers is encouraging, given control the free flowing Ex-Porto man could do something very, very special.
Portsmouth on the other hand, have been diligent in rebuilding a squad that finished a respectable 16th ,despite having transfer embargos enforced and sometimes struggling to fill a substitutes bench. After signing proven Championship talent such as Luke Varney and David Norris, both manager Steve Cotterill and captain Liam Lawrence stated a playoff finish was more than achievable. With financial worries receding (well, receding compared to prior worries ) things look on the up for the Blue Army of the South Coast.
The last meeting between the sides was Chelsea’s 1-0 victory in the final of the FA Cup. Chelsea hit the woodwork umpteenth times including Kalou unsurprisingly able to hit the bar of an open goal from 5 yards out, both sides missed penalties and Didier Drogba clinched the trophy with a trademark freekick. Chelsea have not lost at Fratton park for more than 9 years and Chelsea’s last visit to Fratton Park saw them thump the seasiders 5-0 on a cold, windy and very wet Thursday night in March.
23 players experienced first team action in the first game of pre-season Vs Wycombe, with youngsters such as Jacob Mellis, Billy Clifford, Josh Mceachran, Kaby and Kalas being enrolled with the usual first teamers. As the norm with early fixtures, no player played more than 45 minutes.
The Portsmouth game will be taken more seriously however and although a rotation system will be in place, AVB is keen to see all players in a more competitive manner before the tour of Asia. With 13,000 tickets sold (3,000 Chelsea) the game will most probably be a replication of Palace away last year, a half serious run out for the players with the intention of regaining sharpness and fitness, plenty of sunshine and beer for the fans and the start of footballing banter. Belittling the Palace drummer last year certainly set the tone for the rest of season.
Carlo’s first year started with an undefeated pre-season of 4 wins, 2 draws and winning the Charity Shield, we ended the season with the double. His second season saw 1 win, 3 losses and defeat in the Charity Shield, we won nothing and he was sacked. Using this logic, if AVB wins every pre-season game, we will win everything. That includes that bloody annoying Champions league.
Who says pre-season isn’t important?