Five things we learned from Chelsea's pre-season win over Barcelona
Jose Mourinho's side defeated the Catalans 4-2 on penalties and here is what we learned from the game in Maryland
1. Eden Hazard can get even better this season
This was another outstanding display from the PFA Player of the Year, with an excellent goal, and he is undoubtedly one of the top five players in world football at the moment.
The debate over where he ranks alongside Lionel Messi – sadly absent here – and Cristiano Ronaldo will rage on but there is certainly scope for Hazard to get even better. The challenge for Hazard is now to transfer his domestic form into the Champions League against the giants of European football.
His reputation across the world is certainly growing too, considering the rough treatment he suffered against New York Red Bulls and here against Barcelona.
2. The Premier League is a poorer place without Luis Suarez
His time in England had its controversial moments, and Liverpool were always vulnerable to offers from leading European clubs, but Suarez is sorely missed by the Premier League.
His breath-taking dinked finish over Thibaut Courtois for the equaliser was another moment of class and he can easily hold his own in this Barcelona team.
Gary Cahill will certainly be glad to see the back of him, after an equally difficult experience facing Suarez in last year’s World Cup.
3. Kenedy could be one to watch at Chelsea
Perhaps it was fitting that Kenedy should make his Chelsea debut in Washington.
The Brazilian was given special dispensation by Fluminense to play at FedEx Field and he produced a solid performance in the first half. Playing on the right of a front three, Kenedy showed some fine touches and also got involved in an ugly spat with Adriano which suggested he has a devilish streak that Jose Mourinho likes in his players.
The 19-year-old is still on trial, but the reaction from Chelsea supporters on Twitter was largely positive.
4. Jose Mourinho will have learned from his Filipe Luis mistake
Mourinho’s signings since his return to Stamford Bridge have been largely impressive but Filipe Luis was undoubtedly a mistake.
The return of Luis to Atletico Madrid, after barely 12 months, leaves Mourinho short of options on the left side of defence – as proven by centre-half Kurt Zouma playing the final stages of the game there.
Mourinho has considered Augsburg star Abdul Baba Rahman while he has also inquired about Galatasaray’s Alex Telles and he will know he needs to get this signing right.
Cesar Azpilicueta performed admirably last season on the left side, and will be No. 1 choice this season, but the hasty sale of Luis was proof that Chelsea need quality cover.
5. Chelsea will be ready for Arsenal this Sunday
After an alarming performance against New York Red Bulls, and 60 underwhelming minutes in the niggly showdown with PSG, this was Chelsea’s strongest performance of the pre-season tour.
Jose Mourinho had always insisted his players would get fitter and sharper during the week and they were excellent in the first 45 minutes, albeit against an under-strength Barcelona. They will return to London on Wednesday to step up their preparations for the Community Shield against Arsenal with the first silverware of the season up for grabs.
After all the verbal sparring between Mourinho and Arsene Wenger over the past 48 hours, Sunday’s game is likely to have a sorely needed edge.