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Afterthoughts: Chelsea 4-1 Malaysian XI - De Bruyne and Essien the stars

Pre season is always a slow process as the players begin to gain their levels of match fitness ahead of the new season. For two weeks now the players have been working with Jose Mourinho and his staff and it's going well.Now, I still haven't seen our f...

SENIOR ANALYST
22 Jul 2013, 14:07 IST
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Kevin De Brunye of Chelsea runs with the ball while Azizi Matt Rose of Malaysia looks on durng the match between Chelsea and Malaysia XI on July 21, 2013 at the Shah Alam Stadium, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. (Photo by Getty Images/Getty Images)

Pre season is always a slow process as the players begin to gain their levels of match fitness ahead of the new season. For two weeks now the players have been working with Jose Mourinho and his staff, and it’s going well.

Now, I still haven’t seen our first game against the Singha All-Stars, it’s on my Sky+ to watch at some stage, but I watched the game in full yesterday. One thing is clear – these games are a good run out for the players as they begin to get the feel of the football and match practice once again.

For the younger players in the squad, it’s an ideal opportunity to impress Jose Mourinho and to make some sort of impact if possible. The same can be said of our returning players from loan last season; it’s all about working hard and staking a claim.

I have to say I was impressed with some performances in the first half in particular. Bertrand Traore did well at times and took his goal well. His movement and first touch were good and he always looked busy.

Marco Van Ginkel also caught my eye. Always making himself available for someone to pass to, always looking for the ball and calm and composed with the ball at his feet, he played well.

Kevin De Bruyne (before his injury) was really, really good.  He started in Juan Mata’s No.10 position, with Eden Hazard and Traore either side of him but to be fair, he was everywhere. He worked hard without the ball, closed people down, made tackles and looked a threat with the ball at his feet.

It was De Bruyne’s run off the ball out wide left that created our first goal for Traore, but his movement and finish for his and Chelsea’s second goal was something that must have caught Mourinho’s eye!

A long ball up to Lukaku, De Bruyne was off, taking a gamble that the big man would win the header and knock it into his path, between two defenders. Lukaku did exactly that perfectly into his stride. Without hesitation, De Bruyne hit the ball like a rocket on the volley and beat the keeper all ends up into the roof of the net!

It’s just a shame that when he landed he turned his ankle over and had to be substituted. Hopefully the news will be good and he will only miss a couple of days training.

The star man for me yesterday was Michael Essien, and I am so pleased to be saying that!

Michael Essien of Chelsea FC shields the ball from K. Gurusamy of Malaysia durng the match between Chelsea and Malaysia XI on July 21, 2013 at the Shah Alam Stadium, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. (Photo by Getty Images/Getty Images)

We all remember Essien in his prime for us. The “Bison” was an immovable force in midfield and he looked that way again yesterday. Like De Bruyne, he was everywhere in the middle and bossed the game from the deeper position.

There will always be doubts about his knees, knowing the problems he has had in the past. I may be wrong, but I am sure I read last week a quote from him saying he has had 8-9 operations in total.

It looks as though he was managed well by Jose Mourinho in Madrid and didn’t have any issues last season. I just hope he is managed the same here and we have him for a whole season.

Overall, it was another step to match fitness and I am sure we are looking forward to moving to the US part of our pre season, as the strength of our opposition will provide bigger tests for us.

What did you think of the game?

Carefree & KTBFFH!

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