The fifth round of the FA Youth Cup is here and our young Blues will take on Liverpool Under-18s later today, a game that you can watch exclusively live on Chelsea digital platforms.
Ed Brand’s boys will be seeking a place in the quarter-finals of this prestigious competition as they take on the Reds in a 5.30pm kick-off away from home. The game can be streamed live and for free on the official Chelsea website and the 5th Stand mobile app (UK only).
Ahead of the game, centre-back and this year’s captain Alfie Gilchrist gives us an insight into the responsibility he has as skipper, as well as how he and his team-mates rallied through last round’s extra-time victory over Watford.
‘I try to lead by example on and off the pitch, as I believe how I act and respond to situations can positively or negatively impact the squad,' he told us.
‘I think it's important for me to maintain my standards and improve myself, as well as being someone the coaching staff can rely on. I also enjoy the added responsibility. In all honesty, I think it has made me a better player.
‘In the game against Watford, we lost a little bit of concentration despite our fast start and that is what allowed Watford to have a chance at beating us. We need to make sure that when we have the momentum, we remain strong rather than making the game nervy.’
The 2021 Scholar of the Year comes from a family of big Chelsea fans and he mentions how they have played a huge part in his career, adding that winning this competition is the goal.
‘Everyone wants to win,' he continued. 'This game, the next and the one after that. We are all developing as young players and improving our game but we want to try and win whilst we are doing that, and the FA Youth Cup is a great competition to win.
‘My family support me so much and want me to win too and it would be a special feat, even more so if I am able to be captain.’
Despite revealing his aspirations, Gilchrist was quick to mention that before thinking about any silverware, attention must be focused on the task at hand and that is Liverpool.
‘They will be strong opponents, a tough test but the coaching staff have prepared us, and we are excited but focused and ready to win the game,' he added.
John Terry influence
Gilchrist also spoke highly of his idol John Terry for obvious reasons and said he has learnt a lot from him as a player.
‘John is who I look up to for sure,' he said. 'I want to work on my game and lead by example, as he did for so many years at this club. The fact that he is here to offer advice and coaching as well makes my goals that much more achievable.
Terry recently returned to Cobham to begin a part-time coaching consultancy role within the Academy.
The Reds have been impressive so far in the competition, scoring eight goals in the previous two rounds, four in each game. Their third-round opponents, Fleetwood Town, suffered a 4-0 defeat, while Burnley in the fourth round were beaten 4-1.
Our young Blues will need to prepare for the threat of tricky attacker Mateusz Musialowski, who has scored five goals in the two previous rounds, including a hat-trick against Fleetwood.
If Ed Brand's side are able to get past Liverpool at the Kirkby Academy this evening then a home tie awaits against either Blackpool or Newcastle United in the sixth round.
Tune in live on the Chelsea website or 5th Stand app (UK only) from 5.30pm to follow all the action!