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Fa Youth Cup: Arnesen Anticipates Stylish Second Leg


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This evening at Villa Park, Chelsea's Under 18s resume their delicately-balanced FA Youth Cup semi final. Chief scout and director of youth development, Frank Arnesen, helps chelseafc.com preview the match.

Despite away supporters' tickets for White Hart Lane in short supply and no live television coverage of the first team's match at Spurs, there is still a great opportunity to watch Chelsea players in live action tonight (Wednesday) with Chelsea TV carrying full coverage of youth team's quest to make the final of the FA Youth Cup.

One good display stands between our Academy players and a place in a showpiece occasion the club has not been involved in for 47 years.

The tie is poised at 1-1 following the Stamford Bridge first leg 12 days ago and with away goals given no additional value in this competition, it promises to be a great contest between two sides who looked well-matched in that first meeting.

For everyone who works in the Academy, the long-term goal of producing a player-a-year for the first team squad remains the primary objective, but Frank Arnesen, like many others, has found it impossible not to become excited as the young Blues progressed through the rounds.

'As well as the results, I like the way we have been playing,' says the man with overall responsibility for youth development.

'We have discussed the best shape for development and we have gone with 4-3-3 which is not the easiest way to play, but you have players all over the pitch and you can play out from your defence.

'You can see we have made the combination of winning and playing good football.

'It is a great experience playing on the bigger stage in a competition environment where if you lose, you are out, so there is a lot of pressure the players are putting on themselves and the coaches as well, which is always good for the development.

'It is very interesting to see how they have dealt with that and I think they have done better and better from the first game.

'This is two legs for the first time,' Arnesen continues, 'which is hopefully what they will do when they are playing European football in the future - and also they have been getting coverage in the club, on the web, on Chelsea TV, and this is well deserved and is also something every player has to cope with.'

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There was a little regret after the first leg that there isn't a lead to take to Villa Park after Chelsea fought back strongly from going behind shortly after the break.

The Villa goal was scored by striker Nathan Delfounesco, a recognised danger man, and Marc Albrighton on the right wing had also caused problems.

But in front of 3,499 fans, it was a winger of our own, Miroslav Stoch, who led the recovery, sending over a succession of crosses from the left, one being turned onto the post before substitute Adam Phillip slid in the equaliser with 86 minutes on the clock.

Late on, Jacob Mellis was denied for a second time in the game by a good save from Villa keeper Elliot Parish.

Stoch was the only member of the team with a 1989 birthday, making it one of the youngest sides in the tournament, although he will be joined in the squad tonight by midfielder Lee Sawyer, born a month earlier and back from injury. Two schoolboys, forward Frank Nouble and defender Jeffrey Bruma, have played regularly in the cup run.

'We are scoring goals - 4-0, 3-1, 5-2 and now 1-1 - and they have been scored by the attacking players, Stoch, Nielsen, Kakuta, Philip,' reports Arnesen.

'Stoch is the oldest but he has done very well. Kakuta has been very much involved in everything, the attacking players have been involved in the goals which is good and we have had a very good defence. Rhys Taylor has done well in goal.

'I am pleased with individual and team performance. This is a big, big game for all of us and it will be great to go to the final because that would be another big development step.

'I hope tonight we will see a team that will play their best on the day, keep the ball, play it on the floor and make chances - everything they have done until now. Hopefully that will be enough to win the game.'

Should Chelsea make it through then Manchester City await in a two-legged final.

Entry at Villa Park is free with a 7pm kick-off. Chelsea TV starts its coverage at 6.30pm.

To subscribe to Chelsea TV on Sky Digital channel 421, click here or call 08700 240 490. Existing Sky customers can subscribe through the Sky Products area on Sky Active via their Sky remote control.

Source: Chelsea FC

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