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U21's fixtures announced

I touched on it briefly in my last blog post but the release of the fixtures for the 2013/14 sea...


I touched on it briefly in my last blog post but the release of the fixtures for the 2013/14 season for the U21's deserves more detail. Last season there was big change at academy level with the Elite Player Performance Plan being put into effect. The old reserve set up was totally scrapped and replaced with the new U21's development league. The teams given Category 1 status were split into 3 small leagues and the teams played each team in their league home away which took us up to the half way point in the season.

The teams were then split again into 3 leagues the teams finishing in the top third went into the elite group, the middle third into another group and the bottom third into a final group, each team then played each other home away. The top teams from the final groups then played off to be declared champion.

All is set to change once again while the people behind the EPPP fine tune the set up to best suit these young players. This season rather than being 3 small groups there will only be one large group for all 22 category 1 clubs, teams will not play home and away but Chelsea will play each team only once either home or away. This essentially does not change the total number of games that are played during the U21's season from last season. The top 4 teams will then play off to decide the Champion this year.

It is a rule that 3 of the games must be played at the clubs stadium so in Chelsea's case Stamford Bridge and only up to 3 games can be played at the clubs training ground/academy so Cobham, this is designed to reduce the behind closed doors scenario that has been seen to often at this level, these players need to be in front of crowds.

The 22 clubs playing in the league are: Arsenal, Aston Villa, Blackburn Rovers, Bolton, Chelsea, Everton, Fulham, Leicester, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Middlesbrough, Newcastle, Norwich, Reading, Southampton, Stoke, Sunderland, Tottenham, West Brom, West Ham and Wolves.

Chelsea have also confirmed that there is to be for the first time this season a knock out cup competition at this level in a similar vein to the FA Youth Cup, this cup competition will involve teams from the outside of the 22 clubs mentioned above although the details have not yet been released for this. I think they hope to generate the same kind of excitement that surrounds the FA Youth Cup.

So the confirmed fixtures for the 2013/14 U21's league are as follows:

Friday 9th August 2013 - Tottenham Hotspur (H) - Aldershot Town
Friday 16th August 2013 - Southampton (A) - St Marys
Saturday 24th August 2013 - Leicester City (H) - Stamford Bridge
Monday 2nd September 2013 - Aston Villa (A) - TBC
Friday 13th September 2013 - Norwich City (H) - Brentford FC
Monday 23rd September 2013 - Everton (A) - Southport
Saturday 28th September 2013 - Provisional Date for U21's cup round of 32
Sunday 6th October 2013 - Manchester City (H) - Stamford Bridge
Monday 21st October 2013 - Sunderland (A) - Stadium Of Light
Friday 1st November 2013 - West Ham United (H) - Brentford FC
Sunday 23rd November 2013 - Provisional Date for U21's cup round of 16
Monday 2nd December 2013 - Newcastle United (A) - Northumberland FA
Monday 16th December 2013 - Bolton Wanderers (A) - Lancashire FA
Saturday 21st December 2013 - Provisional Date for U21's cup round of 8
Friday 10th January 2014 - Reading (H) - Aldershot Town
Monday 20th January 2014 - Wolves (A) - Telford FC
Friday 31st January 2014 - West Brom (H) - TBC
Friday 7th February 2014 - Fulham (A) - Craven Cottage
Friday 14th February 2014 - Liverpool (H) - Aldershot Town
Monday 3rd March 2014 - Arsenal (A) - Boreham Wood
Friday 7th March 2014 - Middlesbrough (H) - TBC
Monday 24th March 2014 - Manchester United (A) - TBC
Friday 28th March 2014 - Blackburn Rovers (H) - Brentford FC
Friday 4th April 2014 - Stoke City (A) - Britannia Stadium

Dates for the final rounds of the cup and the play offs are still to be confirmed.




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