Youth Cup: A Chelsea Perspective
Posted by nickogs20 on November 27, 2008
Chelsea return to the FA Youth Cup with a vigour and desire to go one better than they did last year, where they finished runners-up to Manchester City. Their campaign ended in the City of Manchester Stadium, and it may therefore be fitting that their attempt to win the trophy this year begins across town at Old Trafford.
The tie arrives at possibly the best time of the season for Paul Clement’s boys, as they are currently on a season-best five match unbeaten run. On Saturday they beat Charlton Athletic 4-2, continuing a season of high scoring at both ends. The Blues have scored 34 goals and conceded 30 in their 13 games to date, with Frank Nouble leading the way with 10 goals.
The first-year scholar featured heavily for the Under 18 team last season as a schoolboy and was a key figure in their run to the Final. Italian striker Fabio Borini has also been finding the net regularly for both youth and reserve teams, whilst captain Daniel Philliskirk has played all over the park this season, but is at his best in central midfield.
Last season, Clement’s Under 18 lineup the weekend before an FA Youth Cup tie would typically be replicated in the midweek knockout tie. Taking that logic into this season, we can expect Chelsea to line up in a 4-3-3 formation as follows:
Niclas Heimann, Nikki Ahmed, Rohan Ince, Jeffrey Bruma, Ben Gordon, Jacob Mellis, Gaël Kakuta, Daniel Phillskirk (c), Jacopo Sala, Fabio Borini, Frank Nouble
The personnel involved means that it could easily revert to a flat 4-4-2 with Kakuta and Sala playing wide. Five of this team were heavily involved in last season’s run and are complemented by this season’s Under 18 regulars. An intriguing possibility is the inclusion of schoolboy Rohan Ince at centre-back, presumably to match up against Federico Macheda in the physical stakes.
Players to Watch:
Frank Nouble: The Lewisham-born striker-cum-winger has been in fabulous goalscoring form this season, leading the youth team with ten goals, most of which were struck in the last seven games. A regular in the Under 18s as a schoolboy, he made a Reserve bow alongside Michael Ballack aged just 15. He’s often been used out wide in a 4-3-3 formation to utilise his pace and dribbing to full effect but this season has been lined up as a traditional striker – his preferred role – with devastating effects.
Fabio Borini: The Italian’s second year in England is going far better than his first. Last year he found the net with decent enough regularity but was all too often found on the periphery of the game. Now settled in his new environs and more akin to the physical side of the game, his football is flourishing, scoring in plentiful numbers at youth and reserve level. He was largely overlooked in last season’s run, but with Morten Nielsen no longer eligible and Marko Mitrovic still getting to grips with England, Borini has the chance to show that Macheda and Petrucci aren’t the only talented Italians on view this Thursday.
Thanks to Philip Rolfe of CFCnet.