Chelsea Football Club take on Arsenal at Stamford Bridge on Thursday night as the talented academy stars look to defend their FA Youth Cup title.
The Blues kick started the campaign with a 0-2 win in the 3rd round at Sunderland, after a hotly contested game saw second half goals from Nathaniel Chalobah and midfielder George Saville put the home side out of the competition. However youth team manager Dermot Drummy believes Arsenal will offer a very different challenge to his side, whilst revealing his delight that Josh McEachran will return to the youth side to take part in the fixture.
“Sunderland was a very tactical game in the first half. It was a strange game, it wasn’t flowing, we know that, but we did feel we would have a chance with set plays” he told the clubs official website.
‘Josh McEachran will play, we’re very pleased with that. We feel it’s a very big fixture, there will be a big crowd there at Stamford Bridge and it’s a top Academy game so he’ll be playing.’
‘Arsenal will be an edgy game to start with because the boys are playing at Stamford Bridge in front of a big crowd. It will settle down into a free-flowing game though, I don’t expect it to be a negative game.’
McEachran’s development from the academy to the senior squad has ben nothing short of meteoric. The midfielder has featured for the Blues at first team level in the Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League this term but will step back into the Under 18’s set up that bought himself and Chelsea a first Youth Cup title in 49 years last season.
A large crowd is expected at Stamford Bridge on Thursday to support the players and Drummy hopes that the incredible Chelsea fans support can be a motivating factor in this tough fixture and drive the team on to victory.
‘The fans support the youth team like they support the first team; it’s fantastic that the emotions are there.
‘I hope they get behind us on the night, we will be doing our upmost to beat Arsenal and they could be our 12th man.’
The impressive Todd Kane will be looking to build on his tally of 6 goals for the Academy this season and with competition for places in the first team hotting up, this fixture will be a chance for some of Chelsea’s young players to show manager Carlo Ancelotti what they can do. With Philipp Prosenik, Rohan Ince, Mesca, James Ashton, Reece Loudon and Amin Affane all missing through injury Drummy is short of options although promising 18 year old goalkeeper Matt Tomlinson and midfielder Anton Rodgers will be included in the squad. With the added boost of having McEachran available there is no doubt his presence will strengthen the Blues chances of progression.
Possible Chelsea Line Up
Chelsea (4-3-3): Jamal Blackman; Billy Clifford, Daniel Pappoe (c), Archange Nkumu, Aziz Deen-Conteh; Nathaniel Chalobah , Josh McEachran, George Saville; Todd Kane, Milan Lalkovic, Bobby Devyne.
Tickets for the FA Youth Cup are still available online and through the box office, Kingston Store and call centre, priced at £3 for adults and £1 for concessions. Tickets must be purchased before 4pm on the day of the game.
Cfcnet will be bringing you live coverage direct from Stamford Bridge during the game, follow us on our twitter @officialcfcnet and online on our forums.