Mauricio Pochettino saw his side battle to victory over Brighton although the manager has a few issues to iron out
Mauricio Pochettino oversaw his second win as Chelsea boss but he’s got problems in defence.
Goals from Christopher Nkunku, Mykhailo Mudryk, Conor Gallagher and Nico Jackson sealed a Premier League Summer Series win in Philadelphia.
However, consistency and solid structure is needed at Chelsea. Pochettino has now played this formation twice in pre-season and has the players to work it. But they will need more guile and confidence to pull it off, and to play through teams from the back.
Ben Chilwell was forceful at left back, Carney Chukwuemeka was excellent, drifting around at No. 10 and looking for a cheeky angle. Nkunku impressed up front, but there was a slight lack of fluency that Pochettino will demand come the big kick off. Sub Mudryk has a lethal streak and sub Nico Jackson looked like a livewire.
A glowing endorsement for the England U21 Euros winning defender from his boss before the game, but can Colwill establish himself?
That’s quite a pledge. Colwill is assured on the ball, but there were some ragged moments. Chelsea have an array of defenders on their books but Wesley Fofana and Benoit Badiashile are injured.
Silva and Colwill ranked in the top five in the league for “progressive passing” from defenders last season. But Colwill showed inexperience with an over-enthusiastic tackle on Joao Pedro with 12 minutes to go conceding a penalty which he scored.
The French star, Nkunku, started as the lead striker and had a goal inside 19 minutes. He says it is his favourite position and he certainly looks strong and mobile enough to do some damage next season. He can also play midfield
He produced a deft finish, flicking a rebound into the goal after Chukwuemeka’s shot. Nkunku says he “likes to play in the spaces up front” and found them, including showing for the ball from the defence by dropping off. The £52m star, signed from RB Leipzig has now got two in two appearances. Lively and productive, but so was Jackson, on as his substitute.
Sterling has been granted a clean slate by Pochettino after a difficult season back in London. Six goals is a poor return after a £50m transfer.
“He’s in our plan,” Pochettino says. “He is an important player. He can provide to the team many different things. We are confident we can get the best from him to help the team to achieve what we want.’
But here Sterling was peripheral, largely isolated in the right wing, although he did have two breaks on goal, one offside and the other ending with a tame shot.
Sterling will get Poch’s patience. He’s lost weight admitting pre-game that: “I had a little bit more kgs on me that I haven’t had before.”
Chelsea fans were disappointed when the Ukrainian was left out of Pochettino’s first squad to face Wrexham last week. But he was back here, coming off the bench to score.
He produced a lovely exchange just outside the box with Nicolas Jackson and volleyed in with lethal power and accuracy from 25 yards.
The £88m signing from January will improve under Pochettino.