Chelsea embarked on a pre-season tour around the United States this summer, to start a new season dubbed the beginning of a “new era”, with the goings of Kalou, Bosingwa and Drogba, potentially more.
Fresh faces come in, with the permanent appointment of Roberto Di Matteo, who guided Chelsea so brilliantly for the last few months of the history-making 2011/2012 season.
Chelsea 4-2 Seattle Sounders (Thu 19 July, 02:30 BST)
Chelsea started the season with a comfortable win against Seattle in front of a 53,000-strong crowd. Roberto Di Matteo opted to go for players who had not played in Euro 2012, allowing for the fresher legs of Ivanovic, Ferreira and Luiz, whilst new boys Marin and Hazard also started.
Lukaku led the line, with his Belgium side not good enough to play at Euro 2012, and opened the scoring within two and a half minutes, after a lovely tackle and through ball by Josh McEachran, another youngster whose residence could be elsewhere for this season.
Highly-rated Eden Hazard doubled the lead with a lucky deflection in the 10th minute, but some sloppy play allowed Sounders a way back, with Montero scoring twice in 20 minutes to make amends.
Sounders continued to show their energy and desire to give Chelsea a real game, but their deficiencies were once again evident, as Marin cut inside to score a debut goal of his own, again with a lucky touch of a Sounders defender.
Lukaku doubled his personal tally with a well-taken goal just shy of the half-time whistle, and with the entire squad changed by the hour mark, with Roberto Di Matteo allowing for some reserve and academy products, the closing stages were a walk in the American park.
Chelsea 1-1 Paris St-Germain (Mon 23 July, 00:00 BST)
Chelsea stuttered and frustrated in their second pre-season friendly against a determined and skilful PSG side, managed by former Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti.
But any hopes for a nice stroll in the park were quickly wiped away, with both sides selecting strong line-ups, with Di Matteo starting five that started the match against Seattle.
John Terry, in his first match after his racism trial, started on the bench.
This was perhaps a lower-scoring match than most hoped, but PSG showed their intention from the off, with Lavezzi wasting a good opportunity.
Lukaku failed to shine after his double against the Sounders, but PSG’s Nene took his opportunity just shy of the half-hour mark, slotting home after excellent work by Pastore.
The friendly atmosphere was not apparent, with some rash challenges and yellow cards.
PSG made several substitutions at half-time, with RDM preferring to wait until around the hour-mark before unleashing the likes of Terry and Ashley Cole, with youth in McEachran and Piazon too getting some game-time.
And it the latter who scored the equaliser with nine minutes to go.
The attacking midfielder was made to play striker with Chelsea lacking options up front, but he showed his abilities, with a goal made in Brazil after fine work with his compatriot Ramires.
The spoils and pride were shared, as 38,000 fans watched Chelsea and PSG play out a draw in the first ever football match to be played at the Yankee Stadium in New York.
MLS All-Stars 3-2 Chelsea (Thu 26 July, 01:55 BST)
Chelsea succumbed to their first defeat of the pre-season against a pleasing MLS All-Stars side, featuring the likes of Landon Donovan, David Beckham and Thierry Henry.
Spurred on by nearly 20,000 fans inside Philadelphia’s PPL Park, the best players from the MLS league twice took the lead, first opening the scoring after a lucky ricochet off John Terry proved Wondolowski the opportunity, before sealing the decisive goal in the 90+1st minute.
Roberto Di Matteo estimated that “two or more” players might get a full 90-minute match, but it was only Branislav Ivanovic who did, with the manager selecting experience in John Terry, Cole and Lampard, but replacing them in the second half with a mixture of squad players and youngsters.
John Terry had equalised for Chelsea on the half-hour mark when he leapt highest from a Lampard corner, and it was Lampard who put the Blues in front with a composed finish after an excellent exchange between him and Marin before the decisive corner.
All-Stars then cancelled out the Chelsea lead with a well-taken goal, and with seconds to go until a penalty shoot-out, Eddie Johnson scored for the MLS — after a crucial deflection off Luiz — to condemn Chelsea to a second defeat in the annual match, after the 1-0 loss suffered back in 2006.
Chelsea 0-1 AC Milan (Sat 28 July, 23:30 BST)
Chelsea failed to deliver once again with a drab 1-0 defeat to AC Milan, bringing their 2012 summer tour to an end with a record of just one win, one draw and two defeats.
Though at times with some encouraging, attacking play in the second half, notably with Eden Hazard making some excellent runs, the Blues failed to convert any of their chances, meaning a single goal from Emanuelson with just over 20 minutes to go was enough to secure the bragging rights for the Italian side.
With this being the fourth pre-season match, and fitness levels ever-increasing, Roberto Di Matteo selected a strong side, with the quartet of Cech, Luiz, Mikel and Hazard all playing the full 90 minutes.
John Terry had a good chance early in the first half, when Ivanovic’s cushioned header back into the box fell to him, but he could only scoop over unmarked.
The danger signs were always there for the West London side, with Kevin Prince-Boateng finding space for Emanuelson to thump high and wide.
Lampard had a chance which was collected low to the keeper’s right, before Di Matteo looked to inject extra impetus in the Chelsea front-line by bringing on Fernando Torres.
But the spark failed to ignite, and, against the run of play, El Shaarawy’s blocked shot fell kindly into the path of Emanuelson, who slotted home.
Pre-season should mean nothing more than a marketing procedure, where players increase fitness levels and meet the fans abroad, but if Chelsea fail to beat Brighton next week, some more question marks may be asked.
Brighton & Hove Albion 3-1 Chelsea (Sat 4 Aug, 15:00 BST)
A fun day out by the seaside for the travelling Blues fans ended in a disheartening loss in Chelsea’s final pre-season game.
The 18,000-strong crowd — of which at least 4,000 were Chelsea — saw an entertaining game, but the Blue contingent will be left feeling puzzled at how being champions of Europe could lead to such a convincing defeat at the hands of a side who finished 24 places below them in the country last season.
Frank Lampard opened the scoring after a dull opening 34 minutes, spotting a Ramires pass and intelligently knowing Torres was about to do a step-over for him to take control.
But the lead was cancelled out as soon as play restarted, with ex-Spanish international Vicente sweeping home a lovely goal.
Roberto Di Matteo had set out a full-strength side, with all but Hazard featuring in last season’s historic campaign, so it would have been perplexing had Chelsea lost.
But lose was what they duly did, with Barnes tilting the balance of the match, after Cech’s save at the feet of Vicente left the 22 year old with a free goal to aim at.
Chelsea attacked with Hazard, Lampard and Luiz all going close, but when the latter felt he was fouled in his defensive duties, Chelsea stood still despite no call by the officials, and Crofts tucked home.