Chelsea,the Premiership champion trilled her supporters in China with a comfortable 3-0 win over London rivals Arsenal.
At a packed Bird’s Nest Stadium in Beijing, it was the Blues who came out on top thanks to Willian’s opener and a Michy Batshuayi brace, the second of which was a wonderful strike from outside the penalty area.
Antonio Conte made a number of changes in the second half but the Italian will have been pleased with the performance of his side, as well as the fact he was able to give the majority of his players valuable minutes on the pitch.
The Chelsea line-up had a familiar look to it with every player who started having had a significant impact on last season’s title triumph.
The Blues started brightly and forced a couple of early corners, which ultimately came to nothing, following positive play by Pedro and then Marcos Alonso. Victor Moses was then thwarted by David Ospina’s near-post save after latching on to a lovely Fabregas pass.
Willian, scorer of a hat-trick in last week’s friendly win over Fulham, passed up a great opportunity to add to his pre-season tally when he capitalised on a stray pass in the Arsenal backline. The Brazilian drove into the box at speed but his left-footed effort, which had Ospina beaten, whistled just past the far post.
It was the Blues who had started the brighter of the two sides and Batshuayi tested Ospina from the edge of the box twice in quick succession
There was some cause for concern midway through the first half when Pedro went down under an Ospina challenge as the pair challenged for the ball. The Spaniard left the field of play to receive treatment and was replaced by the young French attacker Jeremie Boga.
Arsenal had Ospina to thank for keeping the scores level when he made two superb stops, first to deny Willian and then from Moses’s follow-up. From the resulting corner Batshuayi thought he had given us the lead when he volleyed a Fabregas cross into the back of the net but unfortunately the strike was ruled out for offside.
The decision appeared harsh, but moments later we did take a deserved lead and it was no surprise Willian, who had been lively throughout, was the player who opened the scoring.
Picking the ball up just outside the penalty area, the Brazilian checked inside and curled a right-footed strike into the far corner, and almost immediately our lead was extended through Batshuayi who took a pass in his stride inside the box and finished confidently.
Willy Caballero replaced Courtois at the break in what was our only change, while Arsenal introduced the likes of Olivier Giroud and Danny Welbeck into their attack.
Just a few minutes after the restart, and with our first attack of the half, it was 3-0 to the Blues, with Batshuayi scoring a goal of the highest quality.
The move was instigated by Fabregas, who picked out Alonso with a trademark pass from deep. The wing-back produced a brilliant piece of skill to beat Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and as he rolled the ball into the path of Batshuayi, who was around 25 yards from goal, the Belgian whipped a first-time left-footed strike into the back of the net.
Francis Coquelin fizzed a long-range effort just over the bar as Arsenal attempted to hit back, and at the other end Willian’s low drive was saved by Ospina after he was picked out by David Luiz. Boga, meanwhile, was causing Arsenal problems every time he picked up possession and ran at their defence.
As expected, Conte made a number of changes, with Fikayo Tomori and Kenedy replacing Moses and Alonso respectively at wing-back, while Lewis Baker and Loic Remy came on for Willian and Batshuayi.
Shortly after there were further changes, with Tomas Kalas, Andreas Christensen, Jake Clarke-Salter, Kyle Scott and Mario Pasalic all introduced. Soon after coming on Clarke-Salter did well to get across and thwart Giroud as the Frenchman looked to get a shot away at goal.