The academy players who could feature tomorrow…

Chelsea vs Brentford in the Carabao Cup Quarter Finals – both squads fully depleted due to injuries and COVID – most would ask: “who cares?”. I can tell you right now, I definitely care, a lot of people at The Chelsea Spot care, but most importantly the academy players and staff care.

As revealed by ourselves in the last two days on our Twitter page, many academy boys have joined the first team training, with Monday’s sessions including most of the 23s, and Tuesday’s late night session involving Charlie Webster & Jude Soonsup-Bell too (Trevoh Chalobah joined as well).

Understandably, a lot of the fanbase won’t know who half of these names are and there isn’t any shame in that either! So, in this article, I will go through each player who has BEEN PICTURED training in the last two days, and discuss their style of play as well as their chances of making the squad tomorrow (will give a rating out of 10 considering there are 5 spots available).

Josh Brooking

Josh is a RCB (in our setup). This season he’s looked pretty good, with his positional awareness and pace being of real use at RCB to cover any last-man tackles and also his incredible overlapping ability. Many may have seen him get a red card against Manchester United at Stamford Bridge, and even though it was a dangerous tackle, he was actually having an impressive game beforehand and it was nice to see some tenacity. 4/10 chance of making the squad imo.

Alfie Gilchrist

Alfie also a RCB. Unfortunately overhyped by a Chelsea scout in the media recently being compared to John Terry, he still has had an impressive season so far. Last season he was a big player for the U18s and showed his leadership qualities, getting some minutes towards the U23s at the end of the season and this season has managed to captain the FA Youth Cup side and also play a few more U23s game. 5/10 chance of making the squad imo.

Dion Rankine

Dion’s a RWB/RW. Blistering pace, incredible skills and loves a nutmeg. He was kind of inconsistent last season, but he was also chucked around at LWB and couldn’t really settle in a position, so he certainly has an excuse. This season he’s improved with that heavily and is a constant outlet for our team to get in behind. Unfortunately, if Reece and Azpilicueta travel, I’m not sure he’s got much chance of making it, but we’ll have to see. 3/10 imo.

Xavier Simons

Midfielder. If you don’t know about Xavier…then he’s certainly had an interesting story. Moving from Brentford a of couple years ago when they decided to switch from the academy to the B team, he looked a promising player at the time and built a wonderful midfield partnership with Lewis Bate. However, luck wasn’t on his side as he injured his knee and required surgery, and not long after that required surgery in the other knee too! In what would have been a hard place to be mentally, he has come back very strong and become a real leader in this squad – with his qualities still being shown constantly. 5/10 imo.

Lewis Hall

Midfielder/LWB. Been one of our best performers in the academy this season, which is incredibly impressive. Last season featuring for our U18s, he has made the huge jump into the 23s this season and has played with such ease. Originally a midfielder, his driving runs forward have been amazing to watch with his strength and passing being a key part of his game, except this season he’s played more at LWB and has looked brilliant there too. You know how Reece comes into midfield from the RWB role for Chelsea and just shrugs everyone off? Yeah, Lewis does a pretty similar job for our 23s. 7/10 chance of making the squad.

Jay Wareham

Striker. Jay’s an interesting one. He moved from Woking in the Summer to Chelsea, and was always going to find it a proper challenge with Bryan Fiabema and Jude Soonsup-Bell ahead of him. However, he has taken on the challenge really well and whenever got minutes normally found the back of the net. His movement is very impressive, he works hard for the team, and surprisingly despite his height he wins a lot of headers too. If Jude hadn’t returned to training today I would’ve backed him to be in the squad, so I’ll say a 6/10.

Joe Haigh

Attacker. Joe’s that attacking midfielder who just glides with the ball and is a proper joy to watch when he’s on the pitch. As I’ve said before, me and a couple of guys who watch the academy regularly really like to compare his style of play to Joe Cole. Unfortunately for him, the wide attackers are probably going to be pretty stacked with Ziyech, Pulisic, Mount and someone else (who I’ll come onto later) being ahead of him, but in terms of football ability he definitely could be there. 4/10.

Harvey Vale

Attacker/LWB. If Harvey isn’t in the squad, I would be extremely shocked and disappointed. He has trained with the first team already this season and made the bench, when he probably should’ve come on the pitch anyway in the Carabao Cup RO16. He’s been our best player this season in the academy, with him enjoying the wide forward role with his sweet left foot, and him playing at LWB last season also increases his chances of playing tomorrow. I genuinely think we could see him start. 9/10 chance of making the squad, and a 6/10 chance of starting tomorrow.

Jude Soonsup-Bell

Striker. I’m not going into JSB too much, because we’ve done a whole podcast on him with his brother Zac which you can listen to for free! Just click on the hyperlink before, or the Spotify player down below. With no first team striker being available, I also think he has a pretty good chance of making the squad tomorrow. 7/10 chance of making the squad.

One of our best episodes ever…

Charlie Webster

Midfielder. I don’t think there’s any harm in saying Charlie has struggled at times throughout this season for the 23s and has hence played a few more games for the 18s, but then again his performances in the UEFA Youth League have been brilliant and he does also have the likes of George McEachran, Lewis Baker and Xavier Simons ahead of him in the Development Squad which does make life harder for him.

Despite that, the potential is so so clear to see and I don’t think many would disagree by saying he is the most “talented” player in this whole article! His body feints are truly wonderful and is on a very similar level to what we see from Mateo Kovacic on a weekly basis, so I’ve got no doubt Tuchel would have loved him in training today. I think due to his raw talent and a couple midfielders being out he’s definitely got a decent chance of making the squad tomorrow, but it also depends on whether Tuchel prefers someone who he’s seen on both days…I’ll go with a 5/10.

George McEachran

Midfielder. To finish off, we have George. He was a big part of Jody Morris’ midfield back in the day, as he normally had Billy Gilmour and Conor Gallagher infront of him, while George acted as the ‘regista’ and would concentrate on keeping the ball moving about. He’s had experience out on loan which may give him the nod over others for Tuchel, but I’m going to give his chance of making the squad a 5/10 too, so then it’s equally likely for Thomas to choose one of George/Xavier/Charlie 😇.

Maybe there are less than 5 spots available, in which it makes the cut even tougher. There could even be more for all we know! What we do know though, is that the Chelsea boys would’ve loved training with the first team today and would’ve strived on the opportunity which was given to them, and hopefully a couple do the same tomorrow night and make a name for themselves for the right reasons.

If you’ve got any other questions on the academy, make sure to ask us on our social media platforms!

Written by Paree

Chelsea u23 3-2 Tottenham u23: Cech’s return see’s Chelsea pull off incredible comeback to go top of the PL2

By Zac Soonsup-Bell

Kingsmeadow saw the return of its very own king this week in the form of Chelsea legend Petr Cech, and if you weren’t fortunate enough to catch the action from Monday night I’ll do my best in summarising it for you now (although I might not be able to do it much justice).

Via Chelsea FC twitter

No matter the age group, Chelsea vs Spurs is always a heated display and the fixture between both sides on Monday reinforces that notion tenfold. Chelsea were going into the game with the chance to go top of the league while Spurs were sat on 14 points, in need of a win after only one in their prior four. 

Spurs seize the first half

Despite Chelsea needing a win, they started the game on the back foot. Andy Myers’ boys went behind after just 3 minutes of football and it came from a misplaced Cech pass that subsequently resulted in the corner that lead to the goal. Not the start that Petr would’ve hoped for. 

Things seemed to go from bad to worse for the young blues as Dane Scarlett, the in-form 16-year old, scored with a fine header after a wonderful cross from Harvey White. The attacking prowess that Chelsea often display didn’t come into fruition for the vast majority of the first half, as Spurs stayed compact and disciplined enough to withstand what Chelsea were throwing at them. 

via Getty Images

This caused for a tactical change from Myers which would prove to be the turning point in the derby. Around the half hour mark, the blues changed into their favoured 343 setup which meant the likes of Livramento could push forward and cause their usual havoc. 

For the remainder of the first-half Chelsea saw more of the ball and found themselves breaking down Spurs and having some promising passages of play but it all comes a bit too late as Tottenham were saved by the whistle.

Chelsea find their groove

After what I can only assume was a half-time masterclass from Andy, Chelsea came out of the tunnel like a team possessed.  Two changes saw Thierno Ballo and Dion Rankine off for Jude Soonsup-Bell and Myles Peart-Harris; with Nunn moving to Left wing back and Soonsup-Bell leading the line. Chelsea started the opening 10 minutes of the half as they finished the first with more positive and quicker passages of play, now finally utilising the abilities of Tino down the right flank. 

Finally, after a long period of domination we get awarded a penalty after some brilliant play from George Nunn. He manages to somehow get in front of the Spurs defender in the 18-yard box which resulted in the defender barging Nunn over. Clear as day. The substitute Peart-Harris remains ice cold as he dispatches the spot kick, sending the keeper the wrong way. Now it was starting to look more like a Chelsea vs Spurs game.

via Getty Images

With the momentum now with Chelsea, Livramento brings down a perfect pass from Lawrence with an equally good touch so he can drive past former Chelsea player Lavinier and pick out Marcel Lewis for the finish. The touch from Livramento was gorgeous; most players are having that bounce awkwardly off their hip or thigh but he adjusts with the outside of his left foot as he’s running to touch the ball just out in front of him so he doesn’t break his stride. People are right to be raving about him, it’s almost laughable how he terrorises team’s week in week out.

Not so much as 5 minutes after the equaliser a chance fell to the 16-year-old debutant Soonsup-Bell where the keeper has scuffed one into him on the edge of the box. He brings it down and looks to go round the keeper but the Spurs number 1 recovers well and manages to swipe the ball from Jude’s feet. Despite that chance going begging, they were coming thick and fast for Chelsea now and so it felt like only a matter of time before we nicked a third.

As the game entered its closing 15 minutes, it took a nasty turn as Tottenham player Alfie Devine put in a horror challenge on Danny Drinkwater. Drinkwater then proceeds to kick out at Devine after the challenge which isn’t something you want to see from one of our senior pro’s which subsequently results in a brawl between both outfits. The ref seems to let them have it out for five or so minutes before he finally regains some control to send off both Devine and Drinkwater. Myles Peart-Harris and Levi Colwill were all also booked as a result of their involvement in the incident.

via Getty Images

Now with pride and bragging rights on the line, the game began to enter it’s conclusion. Two chances came Chelsea’s way in quick succession, the first being a free kick won on the edge of the box by Soonsup-Bell with some great pressing and quick passing. The chance leads to nothing however as Marcel Lewis fires over. Henry Lawrence was next to come close with a cannon of a strike from 25 yards out and it looked in all the way but somehow it hits the side netting. Felt almost reminiscent of the (almost) goal from Sterling against Italy back in 2014. 

Closing in on the 90th minute and the dev squad were still pushing for that winner to take them top. Finally, in the 88th Myles Peart-Harris converts a marcel Lewis cut-back to complete an astounding comeback. To overcome a two-goal deficit against any team at this level is something but to do it in a London derby is unheard of; one for the ages.

Despite the six minutes added time, Peart-Harris’ second and Chelsea’s third was enough to secure the win that puts them top of the PL2. The tactical changes saw the game turn on its head as Spurs couldn’t deal with Chelsea had going forward when they play that 3-4-3. A great advert for development football and a huge win for Andy and the Blues.

Danny that was dire

An amazing game is slightly tarnished by some of the on-field antics which is a shame. The tackle from Devine was shocking and a deserved red and Danny Drinkwater was well within his rights to be upset but surely as a seasoned professional and Premier League winner you know better than to kick out at youth players? Danny wasn’t having a particularly bad game which makes it even more of a shame. I feel for Danny as he obviously just wants to be back playing and the tackle was horrible but you have to wonder at one point is it too much that he only plays development football and takes up a huge sum on the wage bill? Just some food for thought.

via Getty Images

Other than that it was a complete performance where anybody could be singled out for playing well. After the tactical change at around the half hour mark Chelsea dominated and each player started to come into their own. The midfield worked tirelessly through Bate and Drinkwater to win back possession and create in the second half and the defence remained impenetrable thanks to the likes of Simeu, Colwill and Lawrence. Nunn also came into the game on the left flank, a position he was tested in when Chelsea played Brentford in a recent friendly. After his second-half performance it wouldn’t surprise me if we saw him play there more often.

Valentino Livramento deserves a special mention as I am continually finding myself more and more impressed with him each time I watch him. His athleticism is second to none and both his defensive and attacking output is pretty staggering. He works hard for the full 90, getting assists but also doing all the dirty work down the right flank. He’s starting to look like a top-class modern-day full-back and he can only get better; a scary talent.

via Chelsea FC twitter

Myles Peart-Harris, the match winner, bagging a brace as a substitute can’t go unmentioned. The 18-year old was everywhere when he came on as he’d obviously decided to take it upon himself to grab the game by the scruff of the neck. Dispatching the pen and the sweeping home the winner means he’ll get the plaudits tonight, and rightly so. Marcel Lewis was also amongst the especially notable performances as he got a goal and an assist to help reignite the comeback.

A small mention to the 16-year old debutant Jude who more than held his own when coming on at half-time. Managed to compete up front for the whole 45, remaining composed and decisive in the final third. Well in Jude! 

Final Take

I genuinely feel for those of you that missed this game, it literally had everything even from a neutral perspective. Five goals, 10 cards (8 yellow and 2 red) and some rousing football played by both teams made for a proper game of youth football. With us now sitting top of the league in the PL2 you can begin to see why Chelsea’s academy is being hailed as the best around.

Three points in the bag and back to it at Kingsmeadow on Friday where we face 6th place Manchester United who will be looking to stop Chelsea increasing their lead at the top.

Highlights here…