Mauricio Pochettino has done a great job of sharing minutes around his squad through the US preseason tour, while also gradually moving towards working out a favoured XI.
As is so often the case, it was the goalkeepers who were the exception. It’s always hard to find the right moment to blood them, and Chelsea’s signing from last summer Gabriel Slonina has had to be very patient to make his Chelsea bow.
Pochettino chose last night at the moment he would bring the USA stopper in, as a reward for his hard work on the tour and back at Cobham before.
In quotes on the club’s official website, Slonina’s delight was clear after making his bow:
“It’s a dream come true,” Slonina said.
“Ever since I signed I’ve been waiting for that moment to finally put the shirt on, get out on the field and play with my team-mates.
“It’s great to wear the Chelsea shirt and show on the field I can play for a team with such a big culture. I’m really happy to make my debut and it’s really nice to finish the Premier League Series like this.”
The teenage was also brimming with compliments for Mauricio Pochettino:
“It’s amazing working under the manager. The entire staff he has brought in and the energy and spirit he evokes into the team is very good. It gives us a lot of confidence going into the season.
“It’s super good working with him and we’re starting to understand the tactics and how he wants us to play. We’re going to grow as a team and be better than last season, for sure.’
It will be very interesting to see what happens with Slonina now. There’s only one friendly left, which isn’t going to be enough for him to prove he should be our number one, even if he were to play out of his skin for 90 minutes.
That means he will either spent a season on the bench, or will have to go on loan. Either way, last night was a major milestone for him.