‘Chelsea ti­tle de­fence hinges on avoid­ing in­juries’

Lesotho Times - - Sport -

CHELSEA skip­per Gary Cahill has sug­gested the side will have to rely on keep­ing play­ers fit this sea­son if the Pre­mier League cham­pi­ons do not add to their de­pleted ranks.

Antonio Conte’s side, de­prived of the in­jured Eden Haz­ard and with new sign­ing Tiemoué Bakayoko side­lined af­ter knee surgery, looked short of re­sources dur­ing their Com­mu­nity Shield de­feat to Arse­nal and Cahill was not the only per­son to no­tice that the squads listed in the match­day pro­gramme showed Chelsea could po­ten­tially se­lect from 17 fewer play­ers than their op­po­nents.

Cahill sug­gested that, in their cur­rent form, Chelsea will need to avoid fur­ther in­juries if they are to chal­lenge on all fronts. “I don’t know, the back of the pro­gramme was in­ter­est­ing to­day,” he said when asked whether the squad ap­peared small to him. “But in terms of qual­ity we’ve cer­tainly got that and you just have to hope we don’t have too many in­juries. Ob­vi­ously the new play­ers that have just come are go­ing to be vi­tally im­por­tant for us and the quicker they set­tle the bet­ter, but there’s no doubt we have added qual­ity to the team.”

Antonio Rudi­ger has joined Bakayoko and Ál­varo Mo­rata at Chelsea but the lat­ter pair are ar­guably re­place­ments for Ne­manja Matic and Diego Costa. Cahill re­it­er­ated that Chelsea’s present num­bers would be stretched by Pre­mier League and Cham­pi­ons League cam­paigns.

“They’re go­ing to be tested, 100%,” he said. “We’ll see how that plays out, but we just have to keep ev­ery­body fit and keep ev­ery­body sharp. Rest is go­ing to be im­por­tant be­cause we’re go­ing to have a lot of games, and we play­ers are in con­trol of the way we pre­pare our­selves. The other stuff out­side of that is none of our busi­ness.”

Chelsea have only won once in pre-sea­son – against Arse­nal in another friendly – and Cahill said the sec­ond-half send­ing off for Pe­dro Ro­dríguez at Wem­b­ley, which was swiftly fol­lowed by Sead Ko­lasinac’s equaliser, had been both harm­ful and un­war­ranted.

“It would be nice to fin­ish a game with 11 men here,” he said. “The the last two games we’ve fin­ished with 10 men [Vic­tor Moses was sent off in the FA Cup fi­nal] and it’s ob­vi­ously dif­fi­cult. I’ve been told it was an or­ange card [for Pe­dro], and it seems to be that when we play here things go the other way if it’s a 50-50 de­ci­sion. Up un­til that point, when we lost the goal and the man, I felt in con­trol of the game.”

Cahill was the only Chelsea player to sub­se­quently score a penalty and ad­mit­ted he does not agree with the new “ABBA” for­mat, say­ing it makes life tougher for a team who fall be­hind early on in a shoot-out. “First im­pres­sion, I’m not a fan,” he said. We were a cou­ple of goals down [2-1 be­hind], af­ter one penalty so men­tally that’s dif­fer­ent from when you’ve got one, one, one, one. I went, and then ob­vi­ously we were 2-1 or 3-1 down and men­tally it’s dif­fer­ent.”

— Guardian

Gary Cahill ad­mits Blues squad strength will tested in sea­son ahead.

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