NEXTGEN: CAPTAIN READY FOR GUNNERS CHALLENGE
Ahead of this afternoon's NextGen semi-final against Arsenal, Lewis Baker, the captain of the Chelsea Under-19s, speaks to the official Chelsea website…
You have played all eight of the NextGen games this season. Has it been different from the other competitions you play for Chelsea?
'It has been a great experience because playing teams from other countries and seeing how they play is different from the teams we play all the time.
'As a team we have played superbly and we showed a great team spirit in all the games. In the Barcelona game we had a man sent off and we had to defend most of the game but our togetherness got us through. The Juventus game was a top-level game and we played great.'
People might not realise the core of this team is more familiar with each other than just these NextGen games…
'Our team is a bit of a young team and we don't really have many over-age players, so this is quite a lot of the FA Youth Cup team. We have those Youth Cup semi-finals coming up soon as well so hopefully we can keep gelling as a team and make it better.'
You have been at Chelsea since 2005. Have you been a captain for any of the younger age groups?
'I captained a couple of times here and there but recently has been the most I have captained coming through all the age groups, because I think I have grown up quite a lot since the younger ages.
'Captaincy is something I enjoy. Dermot [Drummy] chose me to captain for the rest of the tournament but I don't really change the way I play.'
We have seen some impressive performances from you of late with some good goals scored, including two in the 4-1 win over Juventus. Are you happy with your current level?
'I think my form is all right at the moment. I must obviously not step back now, I must just keep going and play my best, and do what I can for the team.'
Which can be in a number of positions in Under-18s, Under-19s or Under-21s, including wide right or left of the attack, or midfield…
'My main position is midfield, no matter whereabouts in midfield - attacking or defending. But wherever Dermot puts me I will do my best.'
Is a London derby against Arsenal a special game at this age level?
'All the Arsenal games are great games, so much competitiveness, and when you win you are buzzing, and hopefully today we can get the win and move on to the final.'
- The game kicks off at 2pm UK time. Chelsea TV will be showing it in full from 4.30pm.