Joe Edwards bemoaned a disappointing derby display at Stamford Bridge as our development squad were beaten 3-1 by Arsenal in Premier League 2.
A slow start was punished as the Gunners raced into a three-goal lead by the break and Edwards admitted the performance was particularly underwhelming given recent encouraging signs.
‘It was a poor performance and that’s a big disappointment because we prepared really well for this game,’ he told the official Chelsea website after the game. ‘We played some great stuff at Liverpool last week and on the training pitch this week it felt like we’d really built on that with some of the work we’d done. Unfortunately, we didn’t turn up and Arsenal punished us.’
The loss was characterised by an unusual sloppiness on the ball from the hosts, with Arsenal’s counter-attacking threat particularly effective.
‘In the first half we gave possession away far too easily, didn’t make it stick in the final third and then fall into their trap,’ continued our development squad boss. ‘We started opening up more and more because we were eager to make things happen but we left spaces and they exploited them on the break.
‘There were obviously strong words at half-time and the boys showed a reaction but we’re not going to pat ourselves on the back too much because we know Arsenal sat back and just defended what they had.’
Freddie Ljungberg’s side tinkered their shape to match the Blues and Edwards felt his players were too slow to adjust to the unexpected tactics of their opponents
‘Arsenal came and set up with the same system as us, which is not how they’ve been playing recently, but we need to be better at adapting quicker.'
— Joe Edwards
‘They were happy to defend a bit deeper and try to catch us on the break with their pace, power and extreme quality on the break,' he added. 'Their second and third goals were outstanding but we should be better.
‘When you have two teams playing a similar system and matching up, you then look at the players. They’ve got to make decisions with the ball, use it well, but that’s the complete opposite of what we did.’
Our youngsters will need to be better in their next outing, a UEFA Youth League semi-final against Barcelona in Switzerland next Friday 26 April.