Our Under-18s meet Wolverhampton Wanderers in the fifth round of this year’s FA Youth Cup on Monday 10 February at Aldershot. Tickets are available at just £3 for adults and £1 for concessions. The tie is also live on the 5th Stand App, kick-off 7pm.
Before his team’s previous FA Youth Cup outing, Ed Brand challenged the side to score more goals - after putting five past Bradford Marcel Lewis, scorer of two goals on the night, and the boss were in agreement that there is always room for improvement against stronger opposition but were both delighted with the 5-0 scoreline in the last game.
‘I always think there’s room for improvement’ Brand told the official Chelsea website. ‘You will take five goals in any game if they were offered beforehand, but we’re expecting a different challenge with Wolves they are a very good, organised team with really good individuals. They play a similar style to which we play, we’re expecting a really good but tough fixture. Taking our scoring chances is going to be even more important when we are coming up against a strong opponent.’
Wolves visited Cobham in the Premier League Cup competition back in October and Chelsea narrowly came out on top winning 3-2, Brand is preparing for a similarly tight contest tonight.
‘I expect it to be really difficult, like it was when we faced them in the Premier League Cup, they caused us quite a few problems and it was a really tight game that we got the right side of, right at the end. I expect an equally as difficult encounter tonight’, he said.
The quarter-finals are notorious for being the first round played in senior stadiums and the former Chelsea youth team captain reveals he has used the chance of playing at Stamford Bridge as an incentive for his team previously this season.
‘We’ve already touched upon it a couple of times,’ admits Brand. ‘We’re fortunate enough to have a few in our squad that have not only played at Stamford Bridge but have played there for our first-team.
‘Those [first-team] experiences will be incredibly important to the group, but there are also boys in the group who haven’t played at the Bridge before and it’s a big carrot for them to make sure they perform, do the work required and get the result to get past a strong Wolves team. We have that opportunity in the next round - it’s definitely a big incentive for us.
‘This is what cup competitions are brilliant for, there’s always pressure in these games where it’s a straight knockout and you can be out after one bad performance. There’s a history at this Academy regarding the Youth Cup that in itself brings a pressure of wanting to perform and progress. I think it’s a good pressure which the lads will thrive off - that’s why these competitions are great from a development point of view, it’s a pressure we encourage and look forward to.’
The Under-18s are still in two cup competitions as well as competing well in the league campaign, Brand credits his big squad but acknowledges such luxuries come with its difficulties.
‘I’m fortunate in many ways to have a big squad full of talented players, that’s always a good problem for coaches to have. It does come with its difficulties at times, it’s never easy leaving players out of a team or squad who aren’t necessarily doing too much wrong, but that’s football and it’s a part of development which some may not of experienced too often in the younger age groups.
‘The lads push and challenge themselves daily and it’s not an easy job to pick an eleven or an eighteen but it’s ultimately a good problem for me and James Simmonds to have.’