Chelsea 0 Fiorentina 1: Three talking points as Radamel Falcao starts
Three talking points as Chelsea stutter to a 1-0 defeat by Fiorentina in their final pre-season game at Stamford Bridge
Terry and Zouma to start against Swansea?
John Stones was the name pursed on the lips of Chelsea supporters before their friendly against Fiorentina on Wednesday night. The England international remains an Everton player despite reports of a £30m bid from Chelsea. Gary Cahill may have been part of a title-winning defence last season, but the England centre-half’s first-team spot appears up for grabs. And Jose Mourinho added fuel to that theory after he started with captain John Terry and Kurt Zouma at centre-half against Fiorentina, perhaps revealing his hand ahead of the visit of Swansea City on Saturday. The France international does possess greater pace than the Cahill-Terry partnership, something which in the Premier League, is a vital commodity. Chelsea are thought to view Stones as an idea partner for Zouma as the English champions prepare for life without John Terry. With Branislav Ivanovic also adept at centre-half, Mourinho can probably afford to wait another year for Stones if Everton refuse to submit this summer.
El Tigre still searching for his roar…
Mourinho confirmed that Diego Costa is nursing a hamstring problem on Wednesday morning hours ahead of the visit of Fiorentina at Stamford Bridge. As a result, Radamel Falcao made his first start for the Premier League champions following his loan move from Ligue 1 side Monaco. The Chelsea striker received a warm welcome from most of Stamford Bridge, whilst a pocket of Colombians located above the press boss serenaded the 29-year-old with chants of, ‘El Tigre’. However, Falcao didn’t start his Blues career with a roar as he failed to tear apart the Fiorentina defence during his 45 minutes of action. Although the Chelsea midfield left Falcao with just scraps to work with, Mourinho will surely be concerned if Costa’s hamstring issues continue and he is forced to rely on another injury-prone striker, Loic Remy, and out-of-form Falcao this coming season. Having said that, Arsenal, Manchester City and Manchester United all require more depth in their striker options, too.
Chelsea will want to forget their pre-season
It hasn’t been the most memorable of pre-seasons for the English champions. While their London rivals Arsenal wrapped up a summer Treble thanks to wins in Singapore, at The Emirates and at Wembley, Chelsea have won just one of their four official outings. It started with a 4-2 defeat by New York Red Bulls, followed by stalemates with Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona (although Chelsea beat the La Liga winners on penalties) before a 1-0 loss to the Gunners. Mourinho will play down the importance of non-competitive games, as well as a 1-0 loss to Arsenal in the Community Shield, but in what should be a tight Premier League title race, their rivals have surely taken some hope – especially the Gunners. While it is unlikely Chelsea have suffered any blow to confidence as a result of their Wembley defeat, Arsenal will surely believe that they have landed a psychological punch ion their rivals after ending Mourinho’s 14-game hoodoo. And the Chelsea manager does care, at least a little, highlighted by his moan to the fourth official in the second half of their 1-0 loss to Fiorentina over the length of time it was taking to get substitutes on the pitch.