The Blue Review: FA Youth Cup Triumph and a London Derby

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Spurs Title Sorrow

After Tottenham’s disappointing/West Brom’s glorious (delete as applicable) draw on Monday night at White Hart Lane opened the possibility of Leicester City clinching the title at Old Trafford this coming Sunday, levels of paranoia in North London have thankfully dipped from the heights of conspiracy theorists linking Chelsea players wanting to beat Spurs for nefarious purposes, to the less hysterical narrative of the match just being a regular London derby with players motivated by things such as pride and ‘getting one over’ their local rivals.

For Chelsea fans however, the thought of beating Spurs and denying them the chance to win the Premier League would be some kind of minor moral victory in a season where there has been very little to cheer about. If given the chance to choose between seeing Leicester City get the required three points at Old Trafford or Chelsea beating Tottenham to assure a first ever league title for the Foxes, most would choose the latter.

In truth, it’s also fairly safe to assume that if Leicester pitched up at Stamford Bridge on the last day of the season requiring maximum points to win the league, Chelsea fans would be very keen to see Leicester make it happen (not that they’d want their team to lose on purpose, of course).

A chance for Chelsea to have the final say in where the league title ends up would at least bring some small meaning and closure to the season to forget.

FA Youth Cup Triumph

Away from the London derby, the FA Youth Cup was added to the recently-defended UEFA Youth League title to make it a domestic and European double for the second year in a row (a third successive triumph in the FA Youth Cup) for Chelsea’s U18 squad. The victory saw manager Joe Edwards sign off in style as he moves into a role as a Player Liaison Officer from next season.

Having drawn the away leg 1-1 in Manchester last week, Chelsea beat Manchester City at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night to record a comprehensive victory and confirm Chelsea’s status at the pinnacle of youth development in England. Goals from Dujon Sterling, Tammy Abraham and Fikayo Tomori gave the Blues a 3-0 lead, before Brahim Diaz scored a consolation for City. 3-1 on the night (4-2 agg) confirmed the Blues dominance in this competition in recent years.

After the game,  Edwards reflected upon his personal journey and what the future may hold for the players:

“This is home for me. I’ve been here since I was eight years old and this one tonight is even more special for me, because I have been working with a large group of those players for a number of years.

“The first group I was in charge of as a coach was the under-eights, with the likes of Fikayo Tomori as part of that, and then Mason Mount and Nathan Baxter the year after, so this has been a nine- or 10-year journey to get to this stage.

“It’s been a privilege to watch them grow up as kids as well as footballers, and this is a piece of history for the club and a fitting way to move on from the under-18s.

“When you work at a club like this, you get used to being ambitious and demanding a lot of yourself and that’s the mentality we try to put in the players, so as coaches we have to live and breathe that ourselves.”

“The boys have to take the next step, keep up that hard work, and while they’ve already achieved, they have to keep working for that chance to get that first-team opportunity. Being sent out on loan is the best chance they have of that, and if they keep performing well then they’ll get that opportunity.”

The success of the youth set up at Chelsea is a testament to the work completed by Academy Director, Neil Bath, and his academy staff who have looked to establish the right culture when developing talent over recent years.

Many of the these players will make it at some professional level which must be considered a success by those within the academy; if they are able to produce one or two who fit the standard required at first-team level then that really will be a wonderful achievement.

The Blue Review is a weekly column taking a light-hearted view on the week’s events surrounding Chelsea.

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