STAMFORD BRIDGE HOSTS UNDER-21S THIS WEEKEND
Chelsea Under-21s are in action at Stamford Bridge for the first time this season on Saturday afternoon.
Leicester City are the visitors with a 2.05pm kick-off. Tickets must be purchased before 5pm today (Friday). The match is live on Chelsea TV.
Last season's games at the Bridge for Dermot Drummy's side served up good entertainment with a 5-0 win over Wolves and a 3-2 victory over Middlesbrough. There have been goals too in the opening matches of the new campaign, with the team bouncing back from a 4-2 defeat against Spurs with a 4-1 win over Southampton a week ago.
'It is good to be back at the Bridge,' says Under-21s manager Drummy,
'We will be playing some of the boys from last year's FA Youth Cup final, and Nathan Ake will play too, so we hope they have enough experience of playing at the Bridge to perform well, and after the performance at Southampton we should go into the game with a lot of confidence.
'We have a few injures with Jeremie Boga, Lamisha Musonda and Alex Davey all doubtful, but if they don't play it is a good opportunity for their replacements.'
Leicester, like Chelsea, have won one and lost one this season in the new-look, 22-team Barclays U21 Premier League. They won 3-1 at Middlesbrough and lost 3-2 at home to Sunderland, a game in which they fielded former Chelsea Academy player Archange Nkumu as a trialist, plus first team squad members Anthony Knockaert, Ignasi Miquel and Zoumana Bakayogo.
'It seems at the moment a lot of clubs are putting out quite strong Under-21 sides,' reports Drummy.
'We are playing mostly Under-19s with a 21-year-old in Lamisha but some teams are playing first teamers for match fitness and that is good if our boys are coming up against experienced pros and getting tough games, or if we during the season play with some first team players it is a great experience for the boys.
'I think the Under-21 league this season will be good because the league table across the country is there for everyone to see, and we will try to keep our side together and the loans will only go out if it is really beneficial.
'It is also good the lads get experience of playing up north, staying overnight, training, recovering, playing a game every seven days along with the new UEFA Youth League which is going to be really interesting.'
The UEFA League is an Under-19 competition that will shadow the largely senior Champions League fixtures. However, the NextGen Series European competition that took place the last two seasons with Chelsea reaching the final on our first entry, will not be part of the season's fixtures. The organisers have not secured the necessary funding for a third year.
'NextGen was a good competition but we were going to put out a nearly Under-19s side in it anyway,' says Drummy, 'so I think with the UEFA League along with the new Under-21 Cup, for the squad we have there are enough quality games. If we need more games there is always the option to go abroad and play a team that wants to play us.'
- Click for info on tickets for Chelsea Under-21s v Leicester Under-21s.