Academy: Week In Review
As usual it has been a very busy week in the Chelsea FC academy, with Chelsea involved in the la...
As usual it has been a very busy week in the Chelsea FC academy, with Chelsea involved in the latter stages of academy competitions and competing at the very top there is plenty of games and plenty to discuss, it is also that time of year where we start to see the next batch of players coming up from U16's to feature for the U18's, so lets take a look at what has happened this week.
Unfortunately it started on Sunday afternoon with the U19's crashing out of the UEFA Youth League to Schalke 3 - 1 a team that they beat twice home and away in the group stages of the competition with and aggregate score of 3 - 0. The team consisted of Beeney in goal with the back 4 of Dabo, Conroy, Christensen and Aina. In central midfield was Loftus-Cheek and Lewis Baker, the attacking midfield trio was Boga, Swift and Kiwomya and Islam Feruz was the striker.
The game started badly for Chelsea when Dion Conroy was adjudged to have been hampering his man when challenging for a header inside the box and the referee pointed to the spot which Schakle put away past Mitchell Beeney. There was chances for both sides with the best coming for Schalke, Beeney being forced into 2 good saves before Christensen headed a Baker free kick onto the bar. Schalke then doubled their lead after some soft defending by Chelsea saw Shalke waltz through the midfield and a smart back heel fed in the attacker to run on and slot home past Beeney.
In the second half Chelsea would quickly get one back, tenacious work by sub Izzy Brown saw him run down the wing and fight to keep the ball with Baker and then spot Swift on the edge of the box who fired home nicely for his 6th goal in this competition. Schalke would then dash Chelsea's hopes again when they again too easily made their way past Christensen and Conroy to again hit across Beeney and score to make it 3 - 1. Chelsea would have one more good chance when Boga and Feruz worked to feed in Solanke who was pushed wide enough that his shot was too soft and Schalke were able to clear off the line.
It once again saw a Chelsea academy side crash out of a cup competition in a game they should have won and under performed in much like the U21's cup against Arsenal this season and the Youth Cup and NextGen Finals last season.
There was better news for the U18's as they managed to win 3 - 2 away to Reading. As always it was a young side that featured. Collins in goal with Sammut, Houghton, Clarke-Salter and Da Silva in defence. The midfield of Ali, Colkett and Musonda and the forward line of Abraham, Mitchell and Solanke.
Chelsea started on the front foot with Musonda having a good early chance that the keeper saved well but it wasn't long before Chelsea did score after Solanke burst forward and the ball came to Abraham who hit a shot from distance well that came off both posts and Solanke followed it in but the ball had already crossed the line from Abraham's brilliant shot. The lead was then doubled, again strong work from Solanke and good football from Musonda and Abraham found Mitchell at the far post who fired home with the keeper unable to stop it.
Scott then had a big chance to make it 3 - 0 after more good work from Solanke and a ball fired across the box but Scott stretching just could not get on the end of it. Reading then got one back after quick footwork found the forward with Houghton to beat and the Chelsea man tried to be strong but he was out muscled and the Reading forward was able to get past Houghton and score past Collins. In the second half Reading brought things level in a move that looked all to easy for them to keep possession and move through the defenders and unleash a shot that flew past Collins and Chelsea had it all to do again.
Chelsea would however get the winner with Reece Mitchell doing well to keep the ball in and keep possession of the ball to lay it off to Charly Musonda who worked the space well and fired a quality shot into the top corner without the keeper standing a chance and to give Chelsea the win that they deserved from this game.
Finally this week saw the U21's away to Manchester United in the league. Both teams looking to establish themselves as top 4 teams in the league with games in hand over the teams above them. The team was a strong one even if missing regulars through injury Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Islam Feruz. The team was Beeney in goal with the back 4 of Ssewankambo, Davey, Christensen and Ake. The midfield of Baker and Swift and the attacking midfield of Boga, Kiwomya and Mitchell behind Brown as the centre forward.
The game would finish in a 0 - 0 draw that was remarkable for a number of reasons mainly because it is remarkable that Chelsea were unable to score and the fact that Manchester United were unable to record a single attempt on goal. Throughout the game there was numerous chances to score but Chelsea were mostly wasteful with their chances and Kiwomya and Brown in particular squandered chances that they really should have scored.
Manchester United offered nothing in the form of a threat and the majority of the game was played in midfield with neither side creating much in the way of chances although Chelsea had the only real chances of the game with the majority of them half chances with a few really good chances to score. The main thing to note from this game was the return of playing time to Marco Van Ginkel who came on at half time. As you would expect there was some rustiness in his play a few mistimed tackles and stray passes but he looked strong and worked well and even had a couple of decent chances to score, there will be more for Van Ginkel at this level for sure this season as he works back to full fitness but it was an encouraging return to match action.
Highlights for all 3 games will be found this evening on my YouTube channel or also on my Twitter feed.