Mark Robinson's Chelsea Under-21s will be looking to get their EFL Trophy campaign up and running this evening as they travel to Northampton Town.
Having been on the wrong side of a 4-1 defeat against MK Dons last time out, Chelsea Under-21s' clash with Northampton, which is scheduled for a 7pm kick-off, serves as an opportunity to claim our first victory in the group.
Mark Robinson, who has a good relationship with Northampton Town manager Jon Brady, is wary that despite his side's recent form, the players will need to learn from their previous mistakes.
Words from the head coach
'As we prepare for our EFL Trophy clash against Northampton Town, it's crucial that we approach this game with confidence and positive energy, always being there for each other on the pitch. When our players embody these qualities, every match becomes an opportunity for learning and future growth.'
He continued: 'Our success hinges on the small details. While we're fully capable of causing problems for our opponents, you can lose these games on not setting up properly for a corner, a throw-in, or even a dead ball.'
He also highlighted that our boys will need to be ready for the physical test. 'Physicality will play a significant role, especially considering our young squad facing experienced opponents, but our ability to compete is non-negotiable.
'To win, we must not only think forward but also exhibit quick and varied movement, consistently making unselfish runs and positioning ourselves strategically to exploit their weaknesses. Our ball speed should match the situation, whether it requires a high tempo or precise control.'
Robinson continued to reiterate how detailed his boys would need to be in their performance to secure victory.
'Off the ball, we need to maintain our energy, stay well-organised, communicate effectively, and exhibit aggression and togetherness when pressing. Winning duels in critical areas is a must, and we must be swift in filling the pitch to secure second balls. Additionally, we should showcase technical ability and make excellent decisions throughout the game.'
In addition, he said that, 'It may seem like a lot to handle, but it's the minimum we expect. With the right mindset and commitment to these principles, we can set ourselves up for success against Northampton Town.'
Last time out
Our Under-21s showed plenty of promise at MK Dons in their first game group-stage game and went in at the break level, but ultimately experience told as we suffered a heavy defeat.
We began well and looked promising, but the Dons got ahead thanks to Matthew Dennis. We answered back with a great goal by Jimmy-Jay Morgan, who headed the ball in from a cross by Somto Boniface.
Although Morgan had further opportunities to put us in the lead – and Leo Castledine came close – the home team scored three goals in a row.
Our young Blues can take some confidence from the fact that our opponents have lost their last three games in the league as they are currently 18th in League One.
Despite their current form, Robinson will not be taking them for granted. Having faced Brady and Northampton on two different occasions with Wimbledon, he will know the quality they possess.
The Cobblers have one win in eight games and one of those defeats includes the 3-1 loss to Oxford United in their first game of the EFL Trophy. Despite going a goal up, they could do little to stop the away side from putting three past them and their woes were further compounded by a red card later in the second half.