FA YOUTH CUP PREVIEW: FINDING ANSWERS
Our Under-18s face Norwich City in the first leg of the FA Youth Cup final tonight (Monday), a game which can be seen live on Chelsea TV, and manager Adi Viveash has hailed his young side for their achievement in reaching a second successive final.
As current holders of the trophy, ours is understandably a big scalp, and the Blues boss believes his players - and staff - deserve great credit.
'It's a fantastic achievement by all the players and staff throughout the whole Academy,' Viveash tells the official Chelsea website.
'The Youth Cup means so much to everybody here and I think it's a fitting reward for all the staff who have travelled up and down the country once again to support the boys.
'The staff all get so excited, I was speaking to some of them before they went up to Anfield and they said they'd never known the place to be so vibrant, so it was lovely they went up there and witnessed the display of football that we put on.
'The players have been terrific and they fully deserve their place in the final.'
Over the course of the two legs against Liverpool in the semi-final we displayed great character, firstly to go up to Anfield, play with such maturity and win 2-0, and then equally in the manner we came from behind in the game at Stamford Bridge.
Viveash was delighted with the manner in which his side dealt with both games, and felt we benefited from past experiences.
'Luckily we had the experience of last year [against Manchester United] so we knew they would be two very different games,' he explains. 'It's interesting how the home leg has been different in both games.
'Away from home we dominated possession in both halves and it was an outstanding display. It would have been even if it had finished 0-0 but the two late goals gave us a nice cushion.
'We started okay in the home game but once they scored there were obviously quite a few nerves. I felt we should have handled the nerves a bit better, but [John] Swift's goal settled them down a bit.
'In the second half we played some outstanding football and the scoreline didn't really reflect the performance. We set out to win both legs in the semi and that's what we achieved, so I was pleased with how we adapted.'
Much like last season's campaign, the current one certainly hasn't been lacking in the entertainment department.
Five-goal thrillers against both Colchester United and Charlton Athletic, a hard-fought, physical contest away at Derby County and the semi-final against Liverpool have asked serious questions of the players' resolve.
In fact, the only relatively comfortable game on the run thus far was the 3-0 win over Barnsley in the fifth round.
'The journey changes, we saw that last year and I learnt it when I worked under Dermot [Drummy],' says Viveash.
'The team changes and players come in at latter stages and make a big impression, that's happened again this year. The fact we've been able to use so many players sends out a very important message.
'When we finished the second leg of the semi-final at the Bridge we had four Under-16s on the pitch, and people forget that. We were so young at the end, the future is very bright and they play the game in the right way.
'We've had some difficult moments but they always seem to find the answer, maybe with a little bit of guidance at times, but they find the answers.'
In Norwich City we face a talented side who will provide a stern test of our credentials over the two games.
The teams met in the fourth round of last season's competition, with the Blues progressing on penalties following a goalless draw at Carrow Road.
Viveash has seen plenty of our opponents recently, however, and knows what to expect.
'I've seen a few of their games, I saw both legs in the semi-final, but I also saw the game when they beat Everton away in the quarter-finals,' he explains. 'It was an outstanding performance, particularly as Everton were much-fancied this season.
'They have a bit of everything. They have a very attack-minded front three, the Murphy twins [Josh and Jacob], who played against us last season, are very lively and potent from out wide, and [Carlton] Morris through the middle who's a goalscorer.
'Cameron McGeehan, who is their captain, came from us, and two of their back four played in last season's game. They have a real habit of winning football matches and they don't tend to give much away.
'They're expecting a really big crowd and it's going to be a wonderful occasion. We'll learn a lot about all of the players on the pitch, which is important for both coaches.'
Leading his side to Youth Cup glory in his first season in the role was a fantastic achievement for Viveash on a personal note. Retaining the trophy would certainly make him a proud man, but modest to the last, he is simply looking forward to what will hopefully be a wonderful occasion.
'I've said many times that I'm the fortunate one who gets to sit there and coach them, and I've really enjoyed this year,' he says.
'I don't look at things for myself, you can do that when you're finished. If it happens, it will obviously mean a lot, but it's not about me, it's a collective effort.
'This year is quite emotional for me as I've coached some of the boys for six years at different stages.
'To get to consecutive Youth Cup finals is an unbelievable achievement, I'm very proud of the staff I work with on a daily basis and I hope they enjoy it.'
Tune in to Chelsea TV from 7.30pm for all the build-up ahead of the game, followed by live coverage from Carrow Road.
Tickets for the match are available on the door priced £2.
Live text coverage of the game will be available, although NOT via the usual page. Those supporters wishing to follow the match can do so here.
The second leg at Stamford Bridge is on Monday 13 May at Stamford Bridge. Ticket details are here.