Youth Cup Final Preview
This evening will see a game where Chelsea's U18's team will be 90 minutes away from hope...
This evening will see a game where Chelsea's U18's team will be 90 minutes away from hopefully winning the FA Youth Cup for the third time in 5 years. It is an impressive record for Chelsea having been in 5 of the last 7 finals and a record that they have fully deserved.
This time last week in the first leg of the final at Craven Cottage Chelsea went down to a 3 - 2 defeat. It was a game where Chelsea took the lead and then allowed defensive slips to see them 3 - 1 behind and having to desperately chase the game. Thankfully there was a second goal for Chelsea scored by Charly Musonda that brought them back into the game and gave a better chance for the Blues in the second leg.
Highlights of that first leg can be seen here:
So what can we expect from tonight's game. Chelsea have plenty of options as far as team selection goes. Absent from last weeks team were Jeremie Boga and Alex Kiwomya. Kiwomya was out will illness so there is a chance that he could be fit for this game although the same cannot be said for Boga who looked all set to return for this game when he came on during Thursday's U21's game, unfortunately he picked up another injury in only 7 minutes which was a huge blow. Charly Musonda was a substitute in last weeks game but after scoring the second goal and a good showing in the U21's game he can possibly have earned himself a place although DaSilva has been impressive in recent games.
The initiative of this game is with Chelsea. Fulham with the lead only have to try and hold onto that whilst Chelsea have to very quickly try and get a goal to bring themselves back into the game and in with a chance of taking control of proceedings. Chelsea academy teams in general like to control the game anyway and so there will be a lot of possession and probing but they will have to be careful to not over commit and leave themselves exposed as last weeks game showed that given the chances Fulham will punish them.
So who will Chelsea's key players be. Ruben Loftus-Cheek will have to dominate the midfield area and run the game as his style can allow him to, when Ruben is on his game he is very difficult to stop and that is the sort of performance we will be looking from him tonight.
Dom Solanke has had a very impressive season 18 goals in 25 appearances which is very impressive on it's own but add to that the fact he is still only 16 years old and it looks even more impressive. Over the last couple of Youth Cup games however Solanke has not been able to convert the chances he has been presented and he is another player that we really need to be on top of his game. We will create lots of chances and if Solanke is on form to convert those chances then it improves our chances of winning by a lot.
Andreas Christensen is our rock at the back. He is calm and composed and most of the time makes the right choices and keeps things tight at the back. In the first leg however Christensen was a little off his usual self and that allowed him to be caught under the ball for the first that Chelsea conceded and he was unfortunate to see the second goal go in off his back. But like the other 2 mentioned should Christensen be on top of his game then Fulham will find it very difficult to break through and score against us.
So Stamford Bridge is the venue for a massive game tonight, there have been disappointments for Chelsea's academy sides in big games since last season and they will hope to put all that right and not let another trophy slip out of their hands. The players have the ability and they will have the support, here is hoping they can pull it off.