HARRISON, N.J. — Tonight’s International Champions Cup match between Chelsea and New York Red Bulls pitted the defending Premier League champions against a team of kids getting their chance on the big stage.
The kids got the last laugh.
[ RECAP: New York Red Bulls 4-2 Chelsea ]
Trailing 1-0 at the break, the Red Bulls scored four times in the second half to stun Chelsea in the Blues’ first game of their preseason summer tour. It was just a friendly, but considering Chelsea only gave up four or more goals once in the Premier League last season, this was not a good start to their 2015-16 campaign.
So what did we learn at Red Bull Arena?
THE STRIKER POSITION COULD STILL BE AN ISSUE
Diego Costa played the second half for Chelsea, and while he didn’t score, he looked dangerous and had a few really good chances. There’s no debate that Costa is one of the top strikers in the Premier League. The question is, if Costa goes down injured or finds himself suspended, who can fill the void?
Loic Remy started the match and despite scoring a goal, he had a relatively poor 45 minutes. He took too many touches around the box and often got the ball stuck in his feet before having it stolen by a Red Bulls defender. A striker that has plenty of top-flight experience and has played in a World Cup for France, Remy lacked the pace to get in behind a defense made up of no-name youngsters. It may just be the first match of the preseason, but can Blues’ supporters really count on Remy to handle a big work-load should Costa be unavailable?
Radamel Falcao is Chelsea’s other option at striker, but was given a rest tonight after playing for Colombia in the Copa America tournament. Jose Mourinho is hoping Falcao will find his form at Stamford Bridge, but after his disappointing loan-spell at Manchester United last season, Falcao is far from a sure-thing.
VICTOR MOSES WANTS TO BE A BLUE
Victor Moses came to Chelsea from Wigan in 2012, and after making 23 Premier League appearances in his first season at Stamford Bridge, he has yet to play another league game for the Blues.
Moses spent the past two seasons on loan at Liverpool and Stoke City, and his name has been floated around this summer for another possible loan move as well. However, he got the start tonight for Chelsea and was arguably their best player in the first half.
The Nigerian international is very versatile, but played today in his preferred winger role. He used his speed to breeze past the Red Bulls defense and nearly scored on a clever chip, but was rejected by the post. He showed confidence on the ball, and moved well without it. After the match, Mourinho said Moses has “had an evolution over the past couple years,” and I would expect him to stay at Chelsea this season.
DON’T EXPECT TO SEE CHELSEA’S YOUNGSTERS IN THE PL
After Chelsea won the Premier League last season, many thought the 2015-16 season could see an influx of youth players into Mourinho’s squad, as the Blues have been stockpiling top talent over the past few years. While a few of those young stars are in the preseason team and saw minutes tonight, don’t expect to see see them lining up in England.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek saw some minutes towards the end of the Premier League campaign last season, but after the match today, Mourinho said the 19-year-old is far from ready to play with Chelsea full-time. 18-year-old Ola Aina played the second half tonight on the back line, but if Mourinho is going to be playing a young defender, his name will probably be John Stones.
The most impressive youngster today for Chelsea was Bertrand Traore, a 19-year-old from Burkina Faso. Traore started up top and showed great pace both on and off the ball. He spent last season at loan at Dutch-side Vitesse, but still needs a bit of time to develop his raw skill-set.