Chelsea Academy: League form stutters but cup progress
This week’s Academy action was a real mixed bag, with 3 games in quick succession at U18s, U19s and U21s level. It is a group of players that has been spread very thin, not to mention the U21′s being affected by international call ups for some of the players.
The U18s kicked things off at Cobham on Saturday with a game against Everton, the team was picked with the following day’s NextGen game in mind, and that meant a young squad and inclusions for some fringe players within the squad. The game finished 1 – 0 to Everton in the end, Chelsea just not able to do enough to get something out of the game.
Next up was the much anticipated Quarter Final against Juventus, and the game most certainly did not disappoint. The first half of the game was totally dominated by Chelsea. The quick passing and pressing was something that the Juventus youngsters just could not cope with. The deadlock was broken by the ever excellent Lewis Baker, who rifled a shot into the top corner from outside the box, giving the keeper absolutely no chance. The second came soon after, Alex Kiwomya racing on to a ball through, beat the keeper to it and slotted it nicely home. Chelsea should have made their domination count for more in the first half, but they didn’t and Juventus came out in the second half and really had a go. Their hopes of bringing things back came from a free kick, which was whipped into a dangerous area, and a glancing header was enough to take it past Blackman.
As Juventus kept pushing forward, Chelsea eventually punished Juventus on the break, substitute Colkett played Kiwomya through out wide who spotted Feruz racing through and picked him out perfectly, and Feruz stuck it well past the keeper and made things a lot more comfortable. The young Blues were not done yet, however, and they really put the cherry on the cake with some lovely football. Good work by Feruz saw the ball fall to Colkett again, who played a super flick over the defenders for the run of Lewis Baker and Baker finished with perfection to cap off what was truly a great performance, highlights of which are here:
That victory has earned Chelsea a Semi Final date with either Arsenal or group opponents CSKA Moscow. The Semi Final, Final and 3rd/4th play off fixtures will be played over the Easter weekend at lake Como. Hopefully, it will be another trophy the youngsters can add to their cabinet.
The action was not finished here, however, as there was still action on Tuesday for the U21′s away to Middlesbrough. Lack of depth meant that a number of players who were playing on Sunday also started this game, and there were debuts for youngsters Dabo, Ssewankambo and Gnahore. It proved to be a difficult night, with few chances created for Chelsea and they eventually went down to a 2 – 0 defeat. But it will have been a very good experience for a lot of these young players, playing at a stadium and playing against opposition stronger than them, they did give it a good go, but Boro were just too strong in the end and took their chances. Highlights here:
The first leg date of our FA Youth Cup Semi Final has also been set. It will be played on Friday, 12th April at Anfield. It will surely be a cracking game and it seems that Raheem Sterling may play that game for Liverpool. So that is a date to include in your footballing diary; the return leg at the Bridge has also now been confirmed as being played on Friday, 19th April.
This week’s action will see the U18′s looking to improve on recent results of 3 straight defeats away to Bolton Wanderers. There is no U21′s fixture this week, but of course there is the Semi Final of the NextGen series on Friday.