PL2 preview: Freedom to fight

It’s the Blues against the Royals this lunchtime at Aldershot as Adi Viveash’s development squad host Reading in Premier League 2. Here, the official Chelsea website previews the action…

The form

Eight league games unbeaten since back-to-back defeats against Arsenal and Reading in September, Adi Viveash’s side face 10th-placed Reading in their latest outing, with the opportunity to move into third in the table with a win.

However, they will have to face the challenge without the services of a host of youngsters who all ventured out on maiden loan spells during last month’s transfer window. In fact, five of the matchday squad from the Reading reverse five months ago are now playing senior football on loan; Fankaty Dabo (Swindon Town) Miro Muheim (FC Zurich), Mukhtar Ali (Vitesse) and Jay Dasilva (Charlton) having departed last month and Jake Clarke-Salter (Bristol Rovers) back in the summer.

Three victories in their last five place the Blues third in the Premier League 2 form guide, with only Arsenal and leaders Everton bettering their tally with four wins. Reading, meanwhile, have won just once in the league since beating the Blues in September.

2016/17 PL2 record: Chelsea at home vs Reading away

Team P W D L

Chelsea at home





Reading away





Last time out

A first away win of the campaign was secured last time out as the Blues won 4-0 at Leicester 23 days ago. Mukhtar Ali, since departed on loan to Vitesse, bagged a brace from midfield, while Dominic Solanke completed the scoring late on after an own goal early in the second half.

HIGHLIGHTS: PL2 Leicester (A) 16/17

Reading have played twice since our Leicester victory, going down 3-0 away at Everton before taking part in a six-goal thriller against the league’s bottom side Derby County last Monday. A brace from Andrija Novakovich handed the home side a 2-0 lead before they were pegged back to 2-2 and, despite a goal from Tyler Frost seemingly winning it for Martin Kuhl’s side, a 96th-minute leveller snatched two points from them at the death.

View from the dressing room

Manager Adi Viveash continues to take charge of one of the youngest sides in the league and he believes both challenges and opportunities lie ahead for his players. Speaking to the official Chelsea website as we look ahead to the action, he said: ‘It’s a big challenge for us in these last four months of the season.

‘The number of Under-18 players starting games in the development squad will probably be over half the team and that is a difficult proposition. We have always promoted the best young players but now opportunities will come through positions and need.’

Viveash saw the Royals draw 3-3 with Derby earlier in the week and he anticipates a similarly free-flowing Reading side in action today.

‘We watched them against Derby on Monday and they certainly pose a threat going forward,’ he said. ‘They scored three against us at the Bridge last year and they are quite an expansive team with lots of attacking players who can hurt you. On the flip side, there are certainly areas we’ll be looking to expose and we hope we can showcase some of the talents we have.

‘It’s an important game in our season and I’ve said that to the players. If we can get a positive result, I think it will settle the players for the rest of the season and take away some of the pressure, making the last seven games in the league much easier to approach with freedom and help with the transition of players into the team.’

Next three games

Date Opposition Venue

Fri 17 February

Man City (h)

Aldershot - 7.05pm

Mon 6 March

Southampton (a)

Staplewood Training Ground - 7pm

Sun 12 March

Liverpool (a)

Prenton Park - 1.05pm

How to watch

Supporters can purchase tickets on the door priced at £3 for adults and £1 for concessions. Kick-off is 12.05pm at Aldershot and there will be updates throughout the afternoon on our official Twitter @chelseafc