The Chelsea U-18’s continued to scale new heights, winning their fifth consecutive FA Youth Cup on Monday. They are the first team since Manchester United back in 1957 to achieve this feat.
The final saw them pitted against London rivals Arsenal, but The Gunners were no match for The Blues as they ended up on the wrong side of a 7-1 drubbing. Carrying a 3-1 lead from the first leg at Stamford Bridge last week, Chelsea knew that the hosts will need to come out and play, thereby leaving gaps at the back. A fine strike in the first half from Billy Gilmour gave Arsenal even more to do in the second period. In the end, the visitors’ solid defence proved impenetrable, while the forward line added three more goals to complete the decimation. Callum Hudson-Odoi, the 17 year-old striker who has also got a glimpse of the first team this season, was the star of the show, scoring a brace and setting up another for substitute Tino Anjorin.
Looking back at the statistics for Chelsea throughout the tournament, the numbers are quite unbelievable. They beat Scunthorpe United, Tottenham Hotspur, West Bromwich Albion, Fulham, Birmingham City and Arsenal en route to their record-equalling title. In the eight games they played, they scored an incredible 33 goals and conceded just one. It would be a big understatement to say that they were head and shoulders above everyone else in the country. Led by the brilliantly solid centre-back Reece James, this group of youngsters produced breathtaking displays everytime they played.
It remains to be seen though, whether any of them graduate to the first team in the future. There have been a whole host of immensely talented individuals who have prevailed in the competition with Chelsea in the recent, but only Andreas Christensen has managed to make it into the big-time on a regular basis. Other names including Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Dominic Solanke, Izzy Brown, Tammy Abraham, Charly Musoda and Charlie Colkett, to name a few, have played little to no part. The Blues have lost a huge amount of talent at the senior level by loaning them out to lower league clubs and then eventually selling them. There is no doubt that they have the best academy in the whole country right now. If they can’t produce the next superstars in England, then who can?
The U-18s are managed by former midfielder Jody Morris, who is a dark horse to replace Antonio Conte in the hot seat next season. It would be a breath of fresh air to see someone from within the club rise to the top. Pep Guardiola took over Barcelona back in 2008 with absolutely no experience as a coach, and is now one of the biggest names in world football. Morris has proved with his stint with the academy since 2014 that he has what it takes to get the best of out of players. Along with 5 FA Youth Cups in a row, Chelsea also won back-to-back UEFA Youth Leagues in 2015 and 2016. This season, they were losing finalists. The U-18s also finished top of the Southern division of the Premier League, and will now face Manchester United, the winners of the Northern division, in the final on May 5.
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