Chelsea’s Under-18s are through to the quarter-finals of their League Cup competition as group winners. In the U18 Premier League table, we are currently second, a point behind Fulham with a game in hand and a home match against them coming up at the weekend.
It was another London side, Arsenal, who were beaten 2-1 at Cobham in the cup group-stage match this weekend and after it, Under-18s manager Ed Brand reflected on that encounter and making into the knockout stage.‘I was really pleased with the performance as a whole,’ he said.‘It was a different type of game from the one previously when we played Spurs before the international break, when I thought we were excellent. I thought we were excellent again but in a different way. Our shape off the ball was really good and we spoke before the game about needing to put a shift in and back your team-mates up, and take pride that we are getting better and better at that stuff off the ball, and we limited Arsenal to very few opportunities.‘They may have had more possession than us but they weren’t hurting us and our game plan when we did win the ball was could we look to play through, and look to exploit on the counter, and we looked a threat doing that.’
Goals from Armando Broja and Sam Illing Jr gave the young Blues a 2-0 lead which was only pegged back partially when the Gunners scored in the last quarter-of-an-hour.‘When you play big games like this, and Chelsea v Arsenal is always a massive game, getting the momentum and going 1-0 up is always a big deal, it naturally gives confidence, and then going two up and making sure we saw that lead out to half-time,’ notes Brand.‘I always wanted us to go and get a third and a fourth because we had the opportunities and we have the quality in the team to do that, but I can’t be too demanding with the shift the players put in. We were really, really good.‘Obviously there is a really big rivalry between the two teams but to get through in the competition is the main reward. We have three competitions we can do well in this season and we give each one equal priority and we will see what the draw brings.‘This is a really big month for us with Spurs and Arsenal, and now we have Fulham at the end of it. We give ourselves challenges and so far they are meeting them and I am really proud of the boys.’
Our Under-18s begin our FA Youth Cup campaign on Wednesday 18 December against Huddersfield at Kingsmeadow. Entry is just £3 adults and £1 juniors and seniors.