Chelsea skipper Gary Cahill is in no doubt the club have added quality to the squad over the summer – but it is the quantity which is a worry for the England defender.
The reigning Premier League champions lost 4-1 on penalties to Arsenal in Sunday’s Community Shield after the game finished 1-1.
Victor Moses, who was sent off when Arsenal beat Chelsea to lift the FA Cup in May, opened the scoring this time around.
The Gunners levelled through debutant Sead Kolasinac after Pedro had been dismissed for a crude foul on Mohamed Elneny.
With the new ‘ABBA’ penalty shoot-out format introduced for the first time, Cahill put Chelsea in front but it would prove to be the only successful spot-kick for Antonio Conte’s men.
Goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois blazed his effort over before new striker Alvaro Morata hit the post, with Arsenal scoring all four of their kicks to lift the shield.
Conte has spoken out several times over his frustrations about the size of Chelsea’s squad and – despite adding Antonio Rudiger and Tiemoue Bakayoko as well as Morata – Cahill shared those concerns.
Asked if he felt the champions’ squad was small, Cahill pointed to the squad lists on the back of the match-day programme – which had 24 Chelsea players listed compared to 41 from Arsenal.
“I don’t know, the back of the programme was interesting today,” he said.
“But in terms of quality we’ve certainly got that and you just have to hope we don’t have too many injuries.
“Obviously the new players that have just come, they’re going to be vitally important for us and the quicker they settle, the better, but there’s no doubt we’ve added quality to the team.”
Chelsea stayed relatively injury-free as they claimed the title by seven points last term, but this season they will have the added strain of a return to Champions League football to deal with.
“They’re going to be tested 100 per cent,” Cahill replied when asked about the strain on the players within the squad.
— MrFootyTips.net (@MrFootyTips) August 6, 2017
“We’ll see how that plays out, but we just have to keep everybody fit, keep everybody sharp. Rest is going to be important because we’re going to have a lot of games.
“Us as players are in control of what we do personally, the way we prepare ourselves for the games. The other stuff outside of that is kind of none of our business.”
With no extra-time played in the traditional curtain-raiser, the Community Shield went straight to penalties after the London rivals could not be separated over 90 minutes.
The penalties followed the new “ABBA” system, designed on the format used in tennis tie-breaks and aimed at being fairer on the team taking the second kick in the shoot-out.
Teams taking the first kick in each pair of attempts alternate – AB BA AB BA and so on instead of AB AB AB AB.
Cahill was not impressed with the change, which was not surprising given Chelsea’s failures from 12 yards.
“It’s new… first impression is, I’m not a fan,” he said.
“We were a couple of goals down after one penalty, so mentally that’s different than when you’ve got one, one, one, one.
“I went and then obviously 2-1 or 3-1 down or whatever, mentally it’s different, so I’m not a fan.
“Obviously we won the toss and asked the team, to see what everyone wanted to do, and we wanted to go first so we went first.”
Chelsea kick-off the defence of their Premier League crown at home to Burnley on Saturday before a tricky trip to face Tottenham at Wembley the following Sunday.