Chelsea are going through some tough times at the moment. While all Premier League clubs are busily announcing their signings, Chelsea is working in the background to form their squad using the players they have at their disposal due to their transfer ban.
Now, there have been some fantastic outcomes from this preseason. Some forgotten players like Ross Barkley have had a chance to redeem themselves. Some youth stars Mason Mount has also made a strong case to be at Chelsea next season.
The performances from pre-season have also been decent as Chelsea have only lost that one game in Japan - 1-0 to Kawasaki Frontale. However, there have been some issues that have been observed.
Here, we take a look at two such concerns from Chelsea's match against Reading.
#1 Chelsea's Set Piece Defending Woes
Despite all the changes at Chelsea this season, there is one particular area where Chelsea is still struggling. Now, set-piece defending was something even Maurizio Sarri mentioned a couple of times in his interviews. He mentioned how they had to practice several routines and still, Chelsea conceded on set-pieces. Unfortunately, the same story has continued this season.
The backline at Stamford Bridge just isn't able to contain set-pieces. While the situation is better in free-kicks, there are some major concerns over Chelsea's marking on corners. The problem is that there seems to be a lack of organization in the backline. Despite the presence of senior leaders like David Luiz and Cesar Azpilicueta, there is a gap in communication.
One of the reasons for the miserable defending can be the zonal marking that is seen at times. Perhaps it would be beneficial if Chelsea switches to a man-to-man marking system for set-pieces.
In the game against Reading, Chelsea was lucky to concede only one goal through a set-piece. Reading hit the crossbar at times and skied some free headers. With all due respect to Reading, had Chelsea been up against a side with better quality, half of those headers would have been converted.
The first half was full of wasted chances from Reading. Practically every corner in Chelsea's half reached a Reading player. The second goal scored by them was an example of Chelsea's horrifying defending as the goalscorer was left completely unmarked.
If Chelsea is looking to pull something off next season, then set-piece defending has to be one of their major concerns. This area has a lot of work to be done and could haunt Chelsea if they fail to rectify it.
#2 What's Next for Tiemoue Bakayoko?
So, Bakayoko hasn't gone out on loan yet neither has he been sold. And these signs can only mean one thing, Bakayoko is staying. Anyone watching the pre-season games can easily see the one player that is struggling on the pitch. Now, people can talk about the immense potential he has and while it is a fair point, it just cannot justify the poor performances that Bakayoko is putting in.
He is coming off a fantastic loan spell at Italy and should be in good form. Perhaps it is the burden of wearing a Chelsea shirt that is messing with his mind. While Bakayoko can be a productive player at times, his passing ability is just not at the level required to play in the Premier League.
Against Reading, Bakayoko was awful, to say the least. His passing was wayward and broke the entire rhythm of the team. At times, he messed up the build-up with the pace of his passes. All in all, he just was a very odd fit into the Chelsea team.
Considering his form, a player like Billy Gilmour or Connor Callagher could have been given a better chance this preseason as it would have enhanced their development. If this performance is anything to go by, Bakayoko will be leaving Chelsea this season. These type of performances are just not acceptable at Chelsea. And if he does want to stay, he will have to raise his game by a lot and improve by leaps and bounds.Published 30 Jul 2019, 13:10 IST