Henry Lawrence – The Versatile One [Scout Report]

Henry Lawrence… (Image Source – TCC)

Chelsea and ‘youth’ are two words which before this season didn’t go together at all, but the arrival of Joe Edwards, Jody Morris and Frank Lampard in the home dugout as well as the transfer ban certainly changed that linkup. As fans have seen the likes of Mason Mount, Tammy Abraham, Fikayo Tomori, Reece James, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Billy Gilmour all have a proper shot with the first team, the Chelsea academy has never been as popular. More and more Chelsea supporters have been trying to look down the age groups to try and find out who the next ‘talent’ is, and even some of them have made an appearance this season.

Marc Guehi has featured against Manchester United in the Carabao Cup, while the likes of Tino Anjorin, Ian Maatsen and Armando Broja have all debuted for Chelsea at some point this season. All four players have such high potential and have impressed when given their minutes, such that the academy players would be working even harder to try and push into that first team. One player who has been in the spotlight recently is Lewis Bate, who made the bench against Sheffield United at just the age of 17 – check out our scouting report of the young English midfielder by my fellow writer Orlando. If it wasn’t for his injury in training with the first team, there is a good chance that Henry Lawrence could have been involved in the squad too. But who is exactly Henry Lawrence, and why isn’t his name being mentioned much?

Michael Emenalo exclusive interview: 'I had to fight to keep ...
Just a few players who the academy boys can look up to… (Image Source – The Telegraph)

Just to clear things up, sometimes young players’ name’s being mentioned less can be a good thing. As Pat Nevin said in our exclusive interview, it would be harsh to comment on the ‘next big thing’ from the academy since all it is doing is putting immense pressure on them when the transformation from youth football to men’s football is definitely a huge one. As we have seen with Billy Gilmour, his substitution against Sheffield United wasn’t convincing and led to us dropping a 2-0 lead, and therefore was put under immense pressure from the Chelsea fanbase and was blamed for us losing two points, yet only a few months later he dropped two masterclasses in a week against Liverpool and Everton. Also, like I said, Lawrence had trained with the first team a couple of times throughout the season and has impressed Lampard according to certain reports, and him going under the radar means that he can just do his work and business without being in the headlines.

Enough waffling though, let’s get into Henry Lawrence as a player…

Henry’s name was first brought up properly on social media at the beginning of the season, when he scored a screamer against Brighton at Stamford Bridge for the development team. His curling effort from a tight angle was mainly overshadowed by a Callum Hudson-Odoi assist who received the ball with a great switch from Reece James, yet as I was sitting in East Lower with the fans, I kept an eye on the fullback and the more I watched him the more I was impressed. After the game, I contacted him on Instagram congratulating him on the goal and a really solid performance, and he replied and ever since we have stayed in touch, which also shows a touch of class which not many footballers have the time for.

As the season went on, as I attended more matches at Kingsmeadow and plenty more games were being streamed on The Fifth Stand, I kept an eye on Lawrence more and more and his ability really started to shine, especially in the FA Youth Cup, and personally he has a really strong contention for Academy Player of the Season.

If you know anything about Lawrence, it’ll most likely be that he’s extremely versatile. We joked about it during a chat, but he has played in every single position apart from Goalkeeper some time this season, including striker in pre-season. Shifting from Right-Back to Left-Back, sometimes to Centre-Back in a back three, often as a Wing-Back on either side, originally being a midfielder, and playing on both wings too, Lawrence has played to a top level in each position and shown enough Football IQ to understand the game fully.

With some players, I think having a few positions under their belt can be a negative thing. For example, with players like Trevoh Chalobah and Ethan Ampadu, as much as it is great for them to get minutes while on loan and to experience different positions and roles, for me I would love to see Chalobah nail down the Centre-Back role, and for the Welsh player to stick as a central defensive midfielder, where he is best at for Wales. But with other players, it can work – playing in a few different positions. Players like James Milner has played in multiple positions throughout his career and excelled in each one, as welling as moving between them as he aged. Even Chelsea club captain Cesar Azpilicueta has played in both fullback roles as well as a centre-back in a 3 at the back formation, and I have also seen some extremely dodgy shouts on the timeline saying that he has the qualities to play in defensive midfield! Lawrence can definitely be like one of the latter players, and there isn’t anyone better than Dave to learn from.

Lawrence has recently been compared to Ethan Ampadu, however I’d argue that that’s an easy and lazy comparison to make and that comparisons to Azpilicueta make a lot more sense. It’s not necessarily the style of play which makes them similar, but more the level of consistency. Dave has been named ‘Mr Consistent’ by Chelsea fans all over the world, and every single game he puts in a shift no matter what. Lawrence has shown a high level of consistency over the season and I’d struggle to namy any disasterclasses.

One comparison makes a lot more sense… (image source – Chelsea FC)

Another way in which you could compare the two is that they both play a nice and simple game, but still a good one. That is certainly a quality which Frank Lampard likes. As Lampard said in a press-conference and Roy Keane emphasised in the Sky Sports studio, Billy Gilmour was just playing a very simple game ‘like the old days’ and was always looking forward, trying to keep the ball moving and being aware defensively. None of the fancy flicks and turns in midfield, nor dancing in celebrations, just simply wants to play the game and help the team score as many goal as possible. Although Henry does have some flair in his locker due to playing in the midfield previously, he’s not the one to always show it and like Azpilicueta plays a simple game and is very composed on the ball.

0:30 for a beautiful flick before the goal…

To round off the article, let’s quickly go through some other qualities. Lawrence has a really powerful shot, as shown by his goal against Liverpool, and really aims to keep it on target. Have a look at his goal which according to my memory brought us level at the time…

Follow me while you are there…*wink*

His dribbling is also one of his best qualities, but to be honest, I think I could say that for every single Chelsea academy graduate with how advanced the training technically is. He’s not afraid to dribble past a player in defence to create another option, or if it’s to whip in a cross. Arguably his best goal, in his international debut for the England U19’s, consisted of him running all the way from the halfway line, dribbling past three players and tucking it sweetly into the bottom left hand corner.

Rapid pace, elite dribbling, sweet shot….

Obviously with him being a quick player and being able to dribble well, it opens up a lot of opportunities to cross the ball in or make the right pass. So many times you will see him go past a player and cross it in brilliantly into the box, or to beat a few players which opens up a lot of space for the likes of Anjorin and Bate to do the work in front of goal. A few times this season Lawrence has also broken the lines with one simple pass, something which Lampard is looking for more and more.

Finally, it’s the work he does off the ball which really shouldn’t be missed. Defensively the fullback is strong and really isn’t afraid to put in a tackle or go into a 50/50. When moving off the ball, it’s arguably some of the best I have seen. He’s always looking to make an option and really understands what the players around him wants to do. Something which Reece James has done a lot this season is come into midfield in a three at the back formation, and when playing four at the back he’s overlapping a lot more and whipping crosses in. Lawrence is constantly making inward and outward runs and is able to do both pretty well due to playing in so many positions, and for the opposition defender it must be extremely confusing. I think Chelsea Academy guru @chelseayouth summed it up quite well…

I’ve said it when writing scout reports on Gilmour, Anjorin and Bate and I’ll repeat it again. The transformation from youth football to men’s football is very hard and we don’t know how they’ll get on, but the potential is very high and I’m sure he’s working hard to reach that level.

What do you think of Lawrence? Let us know on our social media platforms and my personal account..

Want to know about my opinion and Orlando’s on other academy players? Have a listen to our podcast we recorded a few months ago where we went through and talked about as many academy players as we could…

Have a listen…

Lewis Bate – the Sidcup Seedorf

Since the restart of football following the coronavirus break, a number of players from Chelsea’s academy have been training with the senior squad, including Tino Anjorin, Armando Broja, and Henry Lawrence among others. Another was 17-year-old midfielder Lewis Bate, who, despite only being a first-year scholar, turned out to be the only one to make the bench for a first-team game, against Sheffield United. Tino Anjorin would have been likely to be named on the bench at some point, had he not sustained a season-ending injury in training shortly after Chelsea’s first Premier League game back against Aston Villa. He did travel with the senior squad to Villa Park, but he wasn’t named in the matchday squad. This, and injuries to Billy Gilmour, N’golo Kanté and Mateo Kovačić opened the door for Bate to be named as a substitute at Sheffield United and also to travel with the squad to multiple other games. His season ended at Wembley with the senior squad for the FA Cup final – a great end to a great season for the youngster, as it was put by @chelseayouth on Twitter. So, what is it that has made this season so great for him?

Bate’s rise to being named on the first-team bench at Sheffield United this season has been nothing short of remarkable. It was only in October 2019, at the beginning of this season, that Bate was signing his first professional contract with Chelsea on turning seventeen years old. Before that, though, he had already caught the eye playing for England’s Under-18 side and made his Chelsea Under-18 debut in August 2018. Last season, he played fairly regularly up an age group for Chelsea’s Under-18 side as a 16-year-old ‘schoolboy’, and was also named Player of the Tournament as Chelsea captain at the Premier League Under-16 International Tournament. The Sidcup-born teenager was also the only Chelsea player to be selected in England’s squad for the Under-17 European Championships in April 2019.

Bate signing his first professional contract for Chelsea at age 17. Credit: @lewbate on Twitter

Despite showing so much promise at such a tender age, few would have expected Bate to be working so closely with the senior squad this early. He started the season off with the Under-18 squad in a midfield pairing with Xavier Simons that worked wonders in Ed Brand’s 3-4-2-1 until around February, when both capitalised on the promotion of Billy Gilmour to Chelsea’s first-team squad and the departures of Clinton Mola (permanent, to VfB Stuttgart), and George McEachran (loan, to SC Cambuur) to make multiple impressive appearances for Chelsea’s Under-23 side in the Premier League 2.

Bate also played in four of Chelsea’s UEFA Youth League group stage matches, as well as being one of the stand-out performers in this year’s FA Youth Cup campaign, in which a semi-final against Manchester United at Stamford Bridge and a potential final away at Blackburn Rovers or Manchester City still remain to be played.

It is extremely impressive how at home Bate looked in Under-23 football when called upon this season, playing against players sometimes as much as three or four years older than him. He has been said to have impressed in training with the first-team squad as well. So, what kind of a player is he, and what are the attributes that have enabled him to appear so accomplished at so many different levels?

Bate taking part in training with Timo Werner and N’golo Kanté. Credit: @lewbate on Twitter

Bate is a diminutive but combative central midfielder with a sweet left foot. Equally comfortable as a number six, number eight, or in a double pivot, he does his shift out of possession, but it’s his work on the ball which really stands out. If I were to pick out three of his best qualities, they would be his Kovačić-esque dribbling ability to get out of tight spaces, his Gilmour-esque wide range and composed execution of passes, and his Kanté-esque tenacity and stamina. It is that mixture of game intelligence, ingenuity with the ball at his feet, and a feisty willingness to get stuck in, no matter against whom, that earned him my comparison with the great Clarence Seedorf.

Whenever you look at him, Bate is always scanning the pitch. He knows where everyone is at all times and loves to get on the ball and turn quickly with his first touch, before spraying it wide or driving it between the lines. One of his favourite moves is to entice an opposition player in, before playing a one-two with a teammate or using his quick feet to bypass the press and drive into the space vacated.

Bate is also a great leader, demonstrated by his successful captaincy of the Chelsea Under-16 side and other age groups throughout his time at Cobham. Even when not captain, he is always urging his teammates on and likes to encourage by example as well, and tends to still perform well in games where his team may not be quite at it. A good example of this was in the FA Youth Cup quarter-final 1-0 victory over Millwall at Stamford Bridge, when the 17-year-old was one of the best players on the pitch.

If I had to pick one weakness of Bate’s game that needs to be worked on, it is that he sometimes gets caught in possession when dwelling on the ball for too long. This is natural considering the position and role that he plays, but it happens a bit too often than he would like.

Bate taking on Millwall’s defence in the FA Youth Cup quarter final at Stamford Bridge. Credit: @lewbate on Twitter

Bate was unlucky in that had Chelsea been 3-0 up, rather than 3-0 down, against Sheffield United, he would have been likely to have been brought on for his Chelsea first-team debut. Instead, it is quite probable that Bate will make his debut against Bayern Munich in a few days, a game in which there is only pride to be played for. Hopefully he will produce a decent display, but, against one of the best sides in world football, the most important thing for a young player is to learn from the experience.

With luck, we will see the Sidcup Seedorf lining up with Billy Gilmour and co for Chelsea in years to come. Until then, he will continue to do his thing wherever he plays, whether that be for a Chelsea academy side, on loan somewhere, or for the Chelsea first team.

The Chelsea Spot Podcast #4 – The U23’s & U18’s

Episode 4 – The Academy

In our fourth episode of The Chelsea Spot podcast, Paree (Host – @ACParee) and Orlando (@0rland1nho) discuss the most talked about academy players in Cobham.

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Make sure to check us out on all our social media platforms, including our website, Twitter, Spotify, ITunes and Deezer.

Who is next off the Cobham production line?

4.25pm on the 8th of March 2020. Seventy minutes into the game, Everton were already dead and buried when the substitutes’ board went up and the Chelsea faithful rose to applaud the display of Willian, coming off after having scored a magnificent goal. Those in the crowd craned their necks to see who would be his replacement and saw an unfamiliar tall, stocky figure with the number 55 displayed in green on the board. Some fans, confused, opened their matchday programme in order to remind themselves which of the reserve players would have eccentrically chosen such a high number, but many fans knew exactly who Tino Anjorin was. They knew that he was certainly not just any old reserve player, but one of England’s brightest young talents. This same process happened again fifteen minutes later when Armando Broja entered the fray, although not as many fans would have known as much about him. 

Image source: 24newshd

The Premier League debuts of two teenagers in the same game, both who signed for the Chelsea Academy at under-9 level, excited Blues fans all around the world and caused quite a stir on social media. Broja was the eighth academy player that Frank Lampard has handed a first-team debut to this season, which is a record number and has never been done by a Chelsea manager before, so it has naturally led many fans, who have growing interest and knowledge of the academy at Cobham, to pose the question ‘Who is next?’

In this article I will attempt to answer that question and outline the players from the Chelsea Academy that I think are most likely to make their first-team debut soon. 

Ian Maatsen would be the obvious choice given the lack of strength at left back in the senior squad, but he already made his first-team debut off the bench in the League Cup against Grimsby Town so there is no simple answer. Instead, I will give a selection of players and do a brief ‘scout report’ of each of them.

Jamie Cumming

Image source: @JamieCumming_ on Twitter

An FA Youth Cup winner and UEFA Youth League finalist, the 20-year-old has spent this season as part of the first-team squad this season as the third-choice goalkeeper, although he is yet to make his debut. His game time has come with eleven appearances for the Development Squad, but the two first-team goalkeepers ahead of him in the pecking order, Kepa Arrizabalaga and Willy Caballero, have not been at all convincing in their displays and Frank Lampard has not been scared to drop either of them. If the goalkeeping situation remains like this, and if Chelsea have some less important league games towards the end of the season with nothing riding on them, then we could see Cumming be given the nod between the sticks.

Henry Lawrence

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Image source: Getty Images

Arguably the Academy player of the season so far, the 18-year-old is extremely versatile. The Englishman’s favoured position is central midfield, but he has played mainly at full-back on both sides this season, as well as on either wing and even at centre-back in a three. He is the most likely player to be picked on the first-team bench if there is a space free due to injuries, because of his reliability and ability to play in so many positions. He is very consistent – the type of player that never drops below a six out of ten, and has a cracker of a goal in him, one of which I was lucky enough to see up close at Stamford Bridge against Brighton in September when he stole the limelight from Callum Hudson-Odoi and Reece James, who were returning from injury. Lawrence is the most likely player from the Academy to be picked on the first-team bench if there is a space free due to injuries, because of his reliability and ability to play in so many positions.

Luke Mccormick


Image source: chelseafc.com

The 21-year-old returned to Chelsea in January after an unsuccessful loan spell at League One outfit Shrewsbury Town, so it is understandable that he is overlooked by some Blues fans. However, people have quickly forgotten how influential the Englishman was last season for the Academy, captaining the U19 side to the UEFA Youth League final. He scored twice in the quarter-final and once in both the round of sixteen and the semi-final and was a real talismanic figure for the team. He has recently trained with the Chelsea first-team, and his willingness to do the dirty work for the team is something that Frank Lampard would welcome. He also would have no better advocates for his ability than current first-team assistant managers, Jody Morris and Joe Edwards, who were both once his manager.

Tariq Uwakwe


Image source: teamtalk.com

Twice an FA Youth Cup winner and an England Under-20 International, Uwakwe can play as a central/attacking midfielder or on either wing. The 20-year-old has fantastic quick feet and a left foot like a traction engine, which is an option in attack that the Chelsea first-team simply don’t have. A mainstay in the Development Squad PL2 starting XI both this season and last, Frank Lampard could be convinced that it is time his hard work is rewarded with an opportunity in the first-team. It is likely that he will go on loan next season to further his development, but, like Cumming, he could be given a chance to prove himself in the first-team if there are any less meaningful fixtures towards the end of the season.

Ones for the future

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Despite their recent outstanding performances for the Academy sides which have earned them much acclaim on social media, I have not included names like Tino Livramento or Lewis Bate as they have only just started playing for the Development Squad, and are still on the fringes of the Starting XI. They are both only 17 years old and signed their first professional deals earlier this season, so it is very unlikely that they would play for the first-team any time soon. Their potential is undoubted – they are the pick of the bunch from their age group – but we are more likely to see them making their first-team debuts perhaps next season or the season after.

Have I missed anyone out? Let me know in the comments below! 

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and Instagram @TheChelseaSpot

Lewis Bate – The Left Footed Midfield Maestro

*This was an article written by myself for All Things Chelsea, which has since had it’s domain taken down. I have had permission to retrieve this article and put it on my own website, The Chelsea Spot.*

If you switch on the TV and watch Chelsea, you will see young players left right and centre, recently highlighed with 18 year old Billy Gilmour providing two Man of the Match performances against Liverpool and Everton.

Hence, people are now starting to watch as many of the youth games as they can, and if you have watched any of them, there is one man who stands out almost every single time: Lewis Bate.

Bate is a 17 year old English midfielder, who is left footed. He isn’t the tallest in height too, at 5’7 according to Football Manager but the ‘lack of physical presence’ certainly doesn’t phase him. He signed for Chelsea at the age of 9, and has shown qualities to the academy ever since. Recently called up to the England U17 team, Lewis has impressed on every single stage.

But let’s really analyse his game…

If I had to compare him to two players, personally it would be a mix of Kovacic and Gilmour, with a sublime left foot.

Bate does his shift off the ball, just like any midfielder nowadays needed to play at the top level, but it’s his work on the ball which really stands out. His best two qualities are by far his dribbling on the ball, and his passing abilities.

Lewis plays in the middle three, either playing very deep or either as a box to box, exactly like we saw Gilmour play against Everton. Bate has played with Gilmour this year for the development team in the Premier League 2, and they were combining a lot and switching roles. This is something we could definitely see in the future, especially with both midfielders being so young and having a lot of time to try and build a strong midfield relationship.

Bate’s dribbling is brilliant. He is always looking forward and trying to drive with the ball. Whether that’s from deep, or in an attacking position, the midfielder is always trying to play on the attack, and even though it may result in a loss of possession a couple times, the end product which he provides exceeds the the errors.

We see top level players have a certain move which they can repeatedly do so many times, involving Reece James who plants his left foot right next to the ball before crossing it in, or our new signing Hakim Ziyech who can stand still and pick out a cross out of nowhere.  

From what I’ve seen, Lewis Bate has one move which he likes to do. He is able to do a 180 turn on the ball so quickly, and normally happens when he picks up the ball, acts as if he’s going to pass it back to our Centre-Backs, before turning and driving forward with the ball.  

Like I said before, another of his qualities is his passing range. His first touch is very good  which allows him to play the difficult passes through the lines. His weight of pass is outstanding, with him always finding the perfect pass  especially between two defenders in behind  and also when switching the ball.

Leadership certainly isn’t an issue either for the Englishman, with him always looking to dictate play from deep, shown by him captaining the U15 Chelsea side. He also isn’t afraid to take a shot outside the box, and hits it well when he gets the opportunity too.

I’ve said previously when writing player reviews on Tino Anjorin and Gilmour, obviously these players have a lot to work on but only the sky is their limit and Bate is again another player to watch and has a bright future at this club.