THE Maurizio Sarri era is off to a winning start at Chelsea, after a 1-0 win over Perth Glory at Optus Stadium.
A sold out crowd watched on as the clubs played out a thrilling pre-season clash – with a 17-year-old star emerging as the unlikely standout.
For Perth and new boss Tony Popovic, there was little to dissect, with their season still months away, although the injections of new signings Juande, Brendon Santalab and Jason Davidson certainly helped their cause.
While the Blues will be content with the debut of Sarri-ball.
HERE ARE THE WINNERS AND LOSERS FROM PERTH GLORY V CHELSEA…
The midfielder looks to be one of the big winners as Sarri-ball takes pride of place in the Stamford Bridge playbook. In a midfield three with new signing Jorginho and a fresh looking Ross Barkley, the ex-Barca man looked at ease.
“I am back to playing in a position I’ve done for the majority of my career. I am ready to play in the 3 positions in midfield,” he said after the game.
He wore the armband for the evening, and enjoyed a typically assured performance, as his passing played a key role in a number of Chelsea moves.
Looks set to enjoy a renaissance under his new boss.
City of Perth
A sold out crowd on one massive night for the game in Western Australia.
Perth got its chance to show off, as a huge number of eyeballs fixed their gaze on Optus Stadium – as the brand new arena hosted a football match for the first time.
While the rectangular transformation feature wasn’t utilised, the stadium turned on an excellent spectacle, with the one thing prized by A-League clubs above all others well and truly on show… bums on seats.
55,000 plus on hand to welcome the Premier League giants to town, and they weren’t let down.
This kid is going to be a star.
In a 45-minute cameo, the wide man lit up Perth – leaving defenders in his wake with trickery and speed.
His assist for the opener was a thing of beauty as he stood up Scott Neville before whipping a pinpoint cross for Pedro to slam into the bottom corner.
With Hazard and Willian thought to be potentially set for the Stamford Bridge exit, Hudson-Odoi may earn himself a big opportunity for a fast track to superstardom.
And could prove a cheap and unlikely fix to the hole left by the stars.
Remember the name.
In his first match as Chelsea boss, he would have been happy to chalk up a win. His team found the net after just five minutes, and created countless chances from there.
After just a week in charge, the signs were pleasing in regards to the progress of his system – while a lack of clinical finishing may have been the big detractor from the overall showing.
But remembering the legion of World Cup stars still to return for the Londoners – N’Golo Kante, Hazard, Willian, Thibaut Courtois and more – fans and the boss can be excited about the future.
In his first match at the helm of the Glory, Popovic can be pleased with the score line, as well as the performance of his signings off the bench.
An uninspired first half was followed by an enterprising encore. As the likes of Diego Castro, and new men Juande, Brendon Santalab and Jason Davidson entered the fray, the Glory sprung to life and strung together some good chances.
With months until the A-League kicks off, Popa will be pleased with his players, with whom he now has a big stretch of time to work on developing their style and game plan.
Regardless, 1-0 against the might of Chelsea goes down as a positive.
The arrival of Sarri spells trouble for the striker, and his performance in Perth would have done his cause no good. The Italian boss played Dries Mertens up front last season at Napoli, and favours a front man barely resembling the ex-Juve and Real Madrid man.
His showing against the Glory will have compounded fears over his future, as he continues to be linked to an exit.
He was controlled by Shane Lowry throughout, despite getting into promising positions – he continually failed to make his mark and challenge Liam Reddy in the Perth goal.
With Olivier Giroud and Michy Batshuayi still to return, his position up front is far from assured.
After the match, Cesc Fabregas levelled a cheeky dig at the former Chelsea boss.
“We’ve been doing the same things over and over again for the last 2 years. We have gone from 5 at the back to 4,” the midfielder said.
It was clear the players had deserted their once beloved mentor towards the end of his reign, but in this comment the Spaniard made it clear how sick and tired he was of the regimented system.
Conte may have won a Premier League and an FA Cup at Chelsea, but it appears his legacy at the club may be quickly eroding.