Chelsea’s Under-18s are back in FA Youth Cup action this week. Stamford Bridge hosts Thursday night’s game as Millwall make the short trip to SW6 for the quarter-final tie. The action will be screened live for viewers inside the UK via the 5th Stand App, kick-off 7pm.
Ed Brand’s team have earned their place in the last-eight after wins over Huddersfield Town, Bradford City and Wolverhampton Wanderers respectively, with Ian Maatsen himself having scored the first of seven in the demolition of Wolves last time out.
Defender Maatsen has featured in every Youth Cup game this season and is looking forward to taking to the Stamford Bridge turf again, having made his senior debut under Frank Lampard in the Carabao Cup win over Grimsby Town back in September.
‘I’m looking forward to playing at the stadium and I’m excited for some of my team who haven’t played at Stamford Bridge,’ he told the official Chelsea website. 'It's a great pitch to play on. You get the feeling of a first team player for Chelsea so it’s good to have such a big game at the stadium.’
Maatsen isn’t the only youth team player to have played at Stamford Bridge for the first team this season. Tino Anjorin made his debut in the same game, replacing Pedro in the 67th minute. The 17-year-old believes his experiences will not only benefit himself but will aid his team-mates who are yet to play at the Bridge.
‘It will certainly help me but I’ll also be able to say to the other boys to enjoy the game, enjoy everything around you but play the game and focus on the things we speak about in the build-up,' Maatsen explained.
‘It’s good to have me and Tino playing with the Under-18s, to help the team and give them some leadership from our experiences. We are both young players and it is a part of our development to take care of the team and work together to get results.’
The Netherlands Under-18s international has played every minute of every game in the competition so far and has been part of a defensive unit yet to concede a goal. It’s something Maatsen believes is significant to team performances.
‘To get clean sheets is important because it means the back four’s defending is confident, good and that nobody is coming through it,' he added. 'We have to be switched on during every game because we don’t want to concede goals or even allow chances against us.’
Millwall earned their place in the quarter-final after coming from behind to beat Bournemouth at Dean Court. That win came after seeing off Fleetwood Town and Bolton Wanderers in the earlier rounds so Maatsen is well aware there must be no complacency in the Blues camp this week.
‘We have to respect them because they are in the quarter-finals like us and they will be excited to have reached this stage,' he said. 'We have to take them very serious and make sure we play the right way, not worry too much about them and just play our game to hopefully get the best result.’
Chelsea versus Millwall in the FA Youth Cup takes place at Stamford Bridge this Thursday 27 February. Please note that tickets are now off sale. Fans inside the UK can watch live and for free on this website or the 5th Stand app. The winners of the tie will host Manchester United or Wigan in the semi-final.