Chelsea Provide a Glimpse Of the Future With FA Youth Cup Win
Chelsea stand on the brink of history. Win their next two matches and the club will be able to celebrate its first ever league and cup double.
Tonight at Stamford Bridge another little piece of history was made. Chelsea’s youth side—led by Dermot Drummy won their first FA Youth Cup in 49 years, beating Aston Villa 2-1 on the night, 3-2 on aggregate.
The win was fully deserved. The young Blues created chance after chance in both legs, hitting the woodwork five times and attacking with a verve reminiscent of the senior side this season.
The goals came from Marko Mitrovic and Conor Clifford, cancelling out an opener from Villa's Kofi Poyser.
John Terry lifting both the Premier League and FA Cup will be heaven for all those associated with Chelsea, but this achievement is also very welcome.
The heavy investment in youth is starting to pay off.
It is one of the areas of the club that Roman Abramovich has poured money into. Frank Arnesen was taken from Tottenham in 2005 and given the brief of producing at least one player for the first team every season.
At first the results were hard to see. Players like Scott Sinclair and Michael Woods showed initial promise and then faded away.
Then slowly things changed.
Two years ago, Chelsea lost at this stage to Manchester City. This year they have gone one better and won it, conceding just three goals in the process—two of those against Aston Villa.
It has been 10 years since the last youth team product established himself at Stamford Bridge—and that of course was John Terry.
Next season, five members of the youth or reserve team will be on the first team squad.
Jeffrey Bruma, who played in tonight’s final, Gael Kakuta, Nemanja Matic, Fabio Borini and Patrick van Aanholt will be aiming to break into the team.
Miroslav Stoch, another member of the 2008 side, has just won a Dutch title with FC Twente, scoring 12 goals during his spell there.
The system is beginning to work.
While the make-up of the class of 2008 and 2010 might be different, there are similarities. The style of play is the same.
The emphasis is one quick passing and the use of width, with both the full backs and wingers bursting forward at every opportunity. For Kakuta and Stoch two years ago, read Gokhan Torre and Jacop Sala now.
Whisper it quietly: It's almost like watching Arsenal. The end product is not always there, which can prove to be frustrating, but it is fantastic to watch.
This current crop will have caught Ancelotti's eye. Some in particular stand out.
The captain Conor Clifford is one of them.
The Irishman scored the winning goal with a strike that Frank Lampard would have been proud of. He is this team’s midfield enforcer, a mixture of grit and style. He has an eye for a pass and can break forward to devastating effect.
Joshua McEachran glided through tonight’s encounter with audacious trickery and forceful running. He had the 12,000 or so fans inside the Bridge on their feet, and his efforts deserved a goal.
Sam Walker was an assured presence in goal, collecting crosses with an authority that instills confidence in any defence.
Not all of them will make it. The bar at Chelsea is set very high.
However, the system is finally producing players that look like they will be able to meet it.
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