Our development squad head to Aldershot for the final time this season when they host Manchester City in Premier League 2 this evening (Friday). Tickets can be purchased on the gate priced at £3 for adults and £1 for concessions, while Chelsea TV will also be screening the game live.
The Blues are currently sat sixth in the table, 12 points off the top and nine clear of the relegation places with four games remaining. Meanwhile, City are two places but just one point below and will be targeting a victory that takes them above Joe Edwards’s side.
It was a frustrating evening last time out for our youngsters. A trip to Tottenham ended 1-1 but the visitors played over half the game with an extra man and still failed to convert that numerical advantage into three points. The following days have seen contemplation and Edwards has returned to a familiar theme with his players.
‘We have a decent period of time between games at the moment so we’re able to come in and reflect back on matches,’ he tells the official Chelsea website as we look ahead to the City contest.
‘The boys were very honest, we watched the video back but you only have to look at the statistics to see the number of crosses, corners, shots and entries in the final third that we had in comparison to the opponent. Yet the scoreline ends level because our end product around the goal was poor and that level of consistency is something we keep coming back to.
‘Once the reflection is done we move on from it and we’ve been looking ahead to the Man City game. All we can do is keep working – you don’t necessarily fix or improve technical quality overnight so we just have to stick with the things we are doing well. We demand a lot of work from the lads and they rarely fall short in that regard so we just have to keep applying ourselves in that manner.’
Priorities are shifting as we enter the final weeks of the campaign and Edwards will have one eye on next week’s UEFA Youth League last-16 tie, though he admits a few absences have restricted his flexibility to rotate or think ahead.
‘We have a few injuries which means we just have to take it one game at a time,’ he says. ‘We can’t afford to look at this as a building block to next week’s game against Montpellier.
'The UEFA Youth League is obviously a big competition for us but we also know the PL2 table is still really tight and the boys have a lot of pride in where we finish in the league.’
— Joe Edwards
Our performance and victory in the reverse fixture against City was a highlight of the season and Edwards wants to see his side show the same clinical edge tonight.
‘Some of our best games this season have been outstanding team performances but the issue we have talked about a lot all year is consistency,’ he goes on. ‘We went to City and won 4-1 in October but those performances have been too sporadic. It’s interesting because that was a game where we didn’t have much of the ball and City showed more quality than us but we took the few chances we managed to create.
‘We know City will be exactly the same in this game. They never disappoint in terms of always looking to play and showing a real high level of technique to dominate possession so we’ll spend a lot of time without the ball. However, we have to make sure we use the ball better because we don’t want to be the team with 30 or 40 per cent possession. We have to try to do what we did in Manchester - create chances and then take them.’
Kick-off at Aldershot Town is 7pm and there will be updates throughout on our official @chelseafc Twitter. Before then, our youth team take centre stage with a London derby at Arsenal.