The second of two games against Blackburn inside of little over 24 hours had a rather different result than the first. Yesterday evening Chelsea’s youth took on Blackburn in the second leg of the FA Youth Cup semi final and ran out 4-0 winners (5-0 on aggregate).
It was an accomplished, confident display at Stamford Bridge from Chelsea who, aside an awkward ten minute period early in the first half, were dominant throughout. On the whole it was also a good display of heads-up, passing football.
The first two goals of the evening came via a fairly large slice of good luck. For the first, Jeffrey Bruma strode over the half way and unleashed a shot from 40 yards. Inexplicably the Blackburn keeper chose to try and control the ball – which was certainly heading wide of his left post - with his boot, but saw it pop forwards towards the edge of the penalty area. Chelsea forward Marko Mitrovic was the first to react and calmly guided the ball into the net. The second goal came in similar fashion, with the excellent Jacopo Sala expertly finishing from a tight angle following the keeper’s block of a curving shot from Josh McEachran.
The third was more a little more picturebook. Attacking from the right, Gokhan Tore shrugged off two defenders before laying the ball off to McEachran and continuing his run across the box. McEachran found Sala, who played a perfectly weighted pass into Tore who whipped a well-placed shot into the side netting with his left boot. Now that Blackburn were well out of the game, Chelsea’s fourth wasn’t a surprise: Tore caught Blackburn on the break and ran with the ball for 40 yards before unselfishly playing in Sala, who had the class to finish emphatically.
Four nil up and the tie won with twenty minutes to go, the Chelsea coach didn’t bring any older players on to give them a go. When are the over 30s going to get a chance at the club?!
Joking aside - are these the stars of the future? Well, law of averages sadly says many of them probably won’t make it. But a few did stand out. Sala, an 18 year-old from Italy, demonstrated uncommon calm and presence on the ball and his two finishes were excellent. Josh McEachran, who recently turned 17, has quick feet and pulled the strings excellently from an advanced position in midfield. Gokhan Tore, 18, moved to Chelsea from Leverkusen and seems to have prolific strength for someone his age. He showed occasional flashes of pace and flair, and if he can become a bit more consistent on the ball he’ll have a good chance. Captain Connor Clifford, who played for only 30 minutes yesterday because of injury, looks certain to be given a chance in the reserves.
Elsewhere, Bruma looked like a man amongst boys in defence (and during interviews after the game, too). He has of course already played with the senior team and comfortably looks the most likely to break through. He certainly shouldn’t be playing with the youth team next season. The entire back four deserve plaudits too however, having only conceded one goal in the competition so far and expertly keeping Blackburn out over 180 minutes of football in the semi final of the most important youth competition in the country.
If all goes to plan, hopefully a few of these promising players will graduate to the reserves next season, especially as the likes of Kakuta, Bruma, Hutchinson, Stoch and Borini get more opportunities with the first team. We’ll then get a far greater indication of who has a real chance of making the grade. Nothing is guaranteed but, in contrast to recent developments at Chelsea, the signs are certainly positive.
Chelsea will play either Newcastle or Aston Villa in a two-legged final.
Ihaven’t watched huge amounts of Chelsea’s youth team this season. If you have, I’m keen to hear who you think are the potential Chelsea stars of the future. Post a comment…
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