It was far from the dream debut for either Alvaro Morata or Antonio Rudiger as Chelsea were defeated by Arsenal in the Community Shield at Wembley on Sunday.
Antonio Conte opted not to pick either player in the starting eleven, instead fielding a team full of players who were with the Blues last season as they won the Premier League and reached the FA Cup final against the Gunners. Both came on for the final 15 minutes though, and still had time to take an impact despite seeing their side concede a header from Sead Kolasinac.
Morata made a nuisance of himself. Being deployed in the central striker role that he prefers, he looked to press high and force Arsenal into a mistake. With many of his team-mates flagging, he often found himself dropping deep to cover for them, something that did little to assist his attacking contribution.
Antonio Rudiger looked assured defensively, calm on the ball and firm in the tackle. Even with powerhouse Kolasinac running at him down the flank with Victor Moses long gone further up the field, he stood firm and looked strong.
Perhaps concerningly, the German showed indications that communication between him and his new team-mates is still not what it should be. On two occasions he was half a yard behind the rest of the back line, playing the likes of Theo Walcott onside. That is something that will need to be worked on quickly if he is to avoid costing his team goals.
The most pivotal contribution of all came from Morata in the penalty shoot-out. A clinical spot kick taker in Spain and Italy before, Morata had never missed from 12 yards in five previous attempts. At Wembley though, his effort was dragged woefully wide and, coming immediately after Thibaut Courtois’ miss, sent the Blues on their way to defeat.
Neither player could be judged on their brief Wembley cameos in far from ideal conditions. Both showed signs of promise, but also left it clear that Antonio Conte needs further additions if Chelsea are to successfully defend their Premier League crown.