Development squad manager Joe Edwards claimed his side played some of their best football of the season despite defeat at Liverpool at the weekend, urging supporters to come down to Stamford Bridge next week to support the next generation of Chelsea stars.
Tickets for our Premier League 2 derby against Arsenal are still on general sale priced at just £5 for adults and £3 for concessions. The game takes place in SW6 next Monday 15 April, kick-off 7pm.
Edwards’s side will be looking to bounce back from their Merseyside loss in their final home game of the season. While the 32-year-old was naturally disappointed to watch the young Blues surrender a 2-0 lead five days ago, there were aspects of the performance that pleased him.
‘It was the opposite feeling to what we’ve had a lot in recent weeks, where we haven’t been putting in great performances but still been getting some decent results,’ he said. ‘The result was disappointing but we probably played the best football we’ve played this side of Christmas and there were a lot of positives.
‘The second goal was a good example of that – it was one of our best goals of the season and it’s always nice when they’re team goals. We knew at 2-0 up that was partly down to a slow start from Liverpool and then just before half-time there was a moment that brought the game to life where Curtis Jones won a penalty just through the individual talent he has.
‘It was a close game in the second half with us playing well and still creating chances but they punished us in and around the goal.’
Conor Gallagher bagged a brace to put his team ahead and Edwards praised the impact of the 19-year-old midfielder.
‘We’ve tried a lot of combinations in midfield, whether it be the shape or personnel. Conor has played the deeper role quite often alongside Billy Gilmour and has offered a lot of stability for us in that position but he pushed up a bit higher on Saturday. It was a big plus for us to see him use his power and strength on the front foot, and obviously his goal threat was important because we know we need to share goals throughout the team.’
In the reverse fixture back in November, Ethan Ampadu featured as the Blues edged a nine-goal thriller. While Edwards will be hoping for less stress when the two sides meet again in west London, he still believes there will be plenty of quality and entertainment on show. The manager also urged his players to focus on the task at hand and not be distracted by their upcoming UEFA Youth League semi-final against Barcelona in a fortnight.
‘We have to respect it as a game against Arsenal at Stamford Bridge so we won’t be talking about Barcelona in the build-up - this is a big enough occasion in itself,’ he continued.
‘I’ve been involved in a lot of games at the Bridge over the last few years in the FA Youth Cup, Checkatrade Trophy and Premier League 2. The boys all have special memories of Youth Cup nights at the Bridge and, more recently with this group, in the Checkatrade Trophy. We played some of our best football this season against AFC Wimbledon and in the first half against Peterborough so we’ve definitely been able to step up at the Bridge.
‘It’s a London derby and there’s always a good rivalry between the two clubs, even at academy level. At this stage of the season, some of the boys will be trying to earn a place in the team for the Barcelona game but all of them just want to finish the season strongly against one of our rivals. That should give us all the motivation we need to put on a performance that the fans can enjoy.’