YOUTH PREVIEW: CUP RUN COMES TO THE BRIDGE
Even before the first team's outing at Anfield on Sunday, a Chelsea side has the chance for victory over Liverpool Football Club when our youth team aims to complete a job started at Anfield last week.
Stamford Bridge this Friday evening plays host to the FA Youth Cup semi-final second leg with our Under-18s 2-0 up from the first leg, thanks to two Alex Kiwomya goals in the closing minutes of the match on Merseyside.
The away-goals rule does not operate in this competition but it is still a good advantage to take into the second game, with the team hopefully enjoying the backing of a healthy crowd. Click here for details of how to purchase tickets, which must be bought before 4pm on the day of the game. It will also be broadcast live on Chelsea TV.
Adi Viveash's side are hoping to be the first to retain the trophy since Liverpool in 2007, and several of the players in the squad were in a similar position at this stage of last year's cup run.
They had played well to return from Old Trafford with a 2-1 lead in the semi-final first leg but then went behind to Manchester United at the Bridge. It was 20 minutes from the end when Lucas Piazon fired the team into the final.
Islam Feruz's run and pass led to Piazon's goal and the striker had also scored the winner at Old Trafford. The centre-forward, who was still a schoolboy at the time, was our Youth Cup topscorer with six goals in eight games last season. He values that learning curve.
'We had good players all around the pitch and we made it easier for ourselves by everybody working hard, and we never gave up as a team,' the 17-year-old tells the official Chelsea website.
'There are quite a few new players in the Youth Cup side this year and we are all helping each other, and the experience of last year is making it easier to help the less-experienced players.
'We never take anything for granted in the second leg,' he insists.
'At Anfield last week it was a good game and we played well, but I don't think we played as well as we wanted to. Luckily, Alex was in the right positions at the right time to win the game for us. Some pitches we have played on haven't been too good but Anfield was a good surface for us to play our type of football which is a passing game.'
The Somalia-born Scot is one of an array of eye-catching players who make this current youth team well worth watching.
At 5ft 5in tall, his style of centre-forward play is much about good movement and sharp finishing. A classic example was how he reacted quickest and made no mistake in turning in a saved penalty from an acute angle in the recent NextGen semi-final. He finished joint tournament topscorer in that Under-19 European competition. It is no surprise that goals have been part of his game since he began playing football.
'I always want to score in every game because that boosts my confidence and I play well when I know I have a goal behind me,' he says.
'I've always tried to pick up the right positions where I could get a strike at goal, and it is working for me at the moment and hopefully I can carry that on.
'The type of goals I am scoring are from good work from our midfield, and I make runs in behind and I'm getting good support. So most of the goals are coming from the team, I wouldn't say that I make my own goals. The team makes me score the goals.'
Feruz, who joined Chelsea in 2011, became the youngest player to make a debut for Scotland Under-21s back in April and he also plays for his nation at Under-19s along with Chelsea central defender Alex Davey. He has scored at both levels including an Under-19 hat-trick earlier in the season and a brace for the Under-21s in November.
The supporters at Stamford Bridge on Friday will be hoping to see that cutting edge against Liverpool and the players are looking forward to performing at the stadium.
'In the time I have been here the support has been brilliant, from the fans and from the staff inside the club,' says Feruz, 'and support is a massive thing to have in a game of football.'
The winners of this semi-final between Chelsea and Liverpool will play Norwich in the final after they beat Nottingham Forest in a penalty shoot-out on Tuesday.
Kick off at the Bridge is 7.45pm with Chelsea TV's coverage beginning at 7.30pm.
Youth team manager Adi Viveash will be talking about the game on this website tomorrow.