YOUTH CUP PREVIEW: ONES TO WATCH
Chelsea's FA Youth Cup campaign comes to Stamford Bridge this evening and Adi Viveash anticipates a match to showcase the team's exciting brand of football, and one that will teach him more about the players.
Kick-off at Stamford Bridge is 7.45pm with tickets on sale at the box office until 4pm. The match is live on Chelsea TV, coverage beginning at 7.30pm.
The youth team manager spoke prior to the first leg of this semi-final tie against Liverpool about challenging his team tactically, and they responded with an admirably strong performance at Anfield which was capped by two late goals without reply.
'It was a very entertaining game,' Viveash tells the official Chelsea website.
'It was a good level with a lot of good young players on show in both teams, and we are obviously delighted with how the last few minutes of the game went. But I would still be pleased if it had ended 0-0 because we attacked the game in the right way. We were playing away from home in a wonderful stadium and our performance graced it.
'However as I said to the players straight after the game, no two matches are ever the same. This second leg is a different game but we will approach it in the same manner.
'We are at home, we are excited about playing at the Bridge in front of our home fans and hopefully there is going to be a good turnout. I think their performances in the competition deserve that and they worked extremely hard to get the opportunity to play at the Bridge, and now I am really looking forward to watching them play again.'
The two goals at Anfield were scored by Alex Kiwomya, playing in a wide right forward role with Islam Feruz the centre-forward. Schoolboy Jeremie Boga, who often plays as a No.10 behind the striker, was to the left of Feruz on the night, a position Viveash acknowledges is not his most natural but does allow him to find pockets of space. Another schoolboy, Charlie Colkett, was in the No. 10 position at Anfield with the more experienced Lewis Baker and Ruben Loftus-Cheek making up the midfield.
Kiwomya is now Chelsea's topscorer in this Youth Cup run with four goals.
'In the fourth round at Charlton, Alex didn't start but he made a big impact coming on at half-time when we were in a difficult situation,' says Viveash. 'He scored a fantastic second goal and from there he has gone from strength to strength.
'He is a major goal threat and has outstanding pace. I would like him to be a little more consistent from half to half. At Liverpool he was outstanding in the second half and first half he struggled to get in the game which sometimes happens with young players, especially forwards, but his two finishes were top drawer. The fact he is top scorer is a nice thing but it doesn't mean much because individuals shine in good teams.'
Having performed well in front of Liverpool's support at Anfield, the onus is on our Under-18s to build on the 2-0 first-leg lead with Chelsea fans watching on.
'In terms of player development, if you want to one day play for Chelsea's first team then you need to play in front of a vocal crowd.
'These young players seem to thrive on these occasions. The way they play is very expressive and technical and some of them you want to pay to watch.
'Now we need to find out a little bit more about them and it is all right playing at Cobham in front of 50 people but can they handle playing at the Bridge when they are expected to perform in front of a paying public?
'So far they have overcome every hurdle that has been put in front of them, and I am hopeful they will do it again on Friday evening. We are ready, but we know the challenge that lies ahead against Liverpool is a tough one and it is my job to make sure they are spot on. We want to see them play with smiles on their faces, they have to enjoy the game now.'
The Under-18s' league game away to Bolton, postponed in March, will now be played on Tuesday 23 April with a 2pm kick-off.