Chelsea’s pre-season in America resumes early tomorrow morning with a game against David Beckham’s new club LA Galaxy at the Home Depot Center in Carson City, California. Kick-off is 2am UK time.
Defeats of Mexican side Club América and South Korean champions Suwon Bluewings in the last seven days have left Jose Mourinho pleased at how the players are progressing. The only negative to come out of the two games is John Terry’s toe injury, although he isn’t expected to be out for any length of time and could even start against LA Galaxy.
Another player said to be carrying a minor injury is Arjen Robben, who has been the subject of much speculation these past few days. Real Madrid, Spanish media, and the BBC, of all institutions, are adamant that Robben has agreed personal terms with Real and it’s only a matter of time before Chelsea accept a bid for the Dutchman.
The rumours have been met with silence from both Chelsea and Robben himself. Mourinho made it clear after the win over the Suwon Bluewings that Robben is firmly in his plans for the forthcoming season despite the signing of Florent Malouda and pointed out that Robben has two years remaining on his current contract. To confuse the issue further, the Daily Mail carried an “exclusive” in yesterday’s edition stating that Robben will snub Real and sign a new five-year contract worth £80,000 a week.
Whatever the outcome, it’s clear that at just twenty-three Robben has the best years of his career ahead of him. His time at Stamford Bridge to date has been somewhat blighted by niggling injuries but often those injuries were the result of reckless tackles. Let’s not forget that Robben’s style of play and exceptional dribbling skills make him the target of crunching tackles as it’s often the only way to prevent him from wreaking havoc. Fans who believe Robben’s injury problems make him a liability would do well to consider the fact that at a similar age Liverpool’s Steven Gerrard was equally susceptible to minor knocks. It’s likely that Robben’s body will grow stronger and mature in the way that Gerrard’s has.
With these things in mind, there is no doubting that it would be a major blow if Robben were to leave. He would be greatly missed and not easily replaced (Dutch Under-21 star Royston Drenthe is rumoured to be lined up to take Robben’s place). Let’s hope it doesn’t come to this and he is still a Chelsea player come September 1st. It will be interesting to see whether he plays against LA Galaxy.
One player who is expected to play some part is new signing Claudio Pizzaro. Signed on a free transfer from Bayern Munich, the Peruvian striker has been away on international duty at the Copa América until now. With Mourinho intending to switch from the 4-3-3 formation to 4-4-2, Pizarro could make his Chelsea debut in a front two with either Didier Drogba or Andriy Shevchenko.
And finally, David Beckham will definitely make his debut for LA Galaxy, according to the Los Angeles Times. He is not expected to start but will come on during the second half for what is likely to be nothing more than a cameo appearance following his recovery from an ankle injury picked up while playing for England.