Date: 20th July 2019 at 7:37am
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Chelsea opened their mini-tour of Japan in embarrassing fashion after defeat at the hands of J-League side Kawasaki Frontale. Brazilian forward Leandro Damiao might’ve finally convinced Tottenham Hotspur that his signature is still worth pursuing (not really..) after his 88th-minute header secured a 1-0 victory for the reigning Japanese champions. Frank Lampard cooled on the half-time substitutions this time around, not electing for two completely different starting XIs and a debut was also handed to £58m signing Christian Pulisic.

Happy days

Kurt ‘Happy’ Zouma – yes, that’s his real middle name – donned the blue shirt for a third 45-minute spell since returning to the club after a loan spell at Everton. This time he given starting honours alongside David Luiz who is likely the first-choice option ahead of the coming Premier League season. The other spot, for the time being, is up for grabs with Antonio Rudiger likely to miss the season opener through injury. Zouma put in a bold claim to the man to start against Manchester United in three weeks’ time – the 24-year-old looked more mature, composed and very solid at the back. Chelsea didn’t concede with him on the pitch. The France international has had two spells out on loan in the Premier League so it’s not as if he has to try and contend with a step-up in quality or anything. Another bonus is that he was part of the Everton squad that thumped United 4-0, who they play on the opening day. The result might have been negative but it was a good showing for Zouma.

Willy’s a solid back-up

Chelsea’s back-up goalkeeper Willy Caballero looked impervious between the sticks at times during the defeat – the goal was no fault of his that’s for sure. The 37-year-old has been a reliable deputy for both Manchester City and The Blues in the Premier League since travelling to England in 2014 and stopped the defeat being much worse than a solitary goal. Just before half-time he tipped an effort wide at the last opportunity and in the closing stages of the game, he pulled off an array of quality saves to keep Chelsea in it. He may be getting on a bit and he may only be playing second fiddle to Kepa but Chelsea fans will know that if he needs to be called upon then there should be no worries – certainly not after that pre-season showing.

A goal-shy frontline

There has to be some doubt in the mind of Lampard and the Stamford Bridge fanbase having lost the goals of Eden Hazard (scored 16 last season) to Real Madrid this summer as well as loan striker Gonzalo Higuain – it leaves the boss with just three options in attack. Against Kawasaki, Olivier Giroud and Michy Batshuayi were tested with Tammy Abraham out through illness, yet, neither of them looked particularly up to it. Some will claim it’s only pre-season but not scoring goals against such lower quality opposition is an issue, especially after the youngsters netted four past St Patrick’s Athletic last week.