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Chelsea Reserves v West Ham Reserves

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The second string play athome for the first time in nearly two months tonight (Monday) and givea first game of the season to Alex. The big Brazilian's last match was the FA Cup Final which was followed by groin surgery in the close season.

Alex isn't the only experienced player in the rearguard to face West Ham at Brentford this evening. Paulo Ferreiraplays his second reserve game of the season as he works back to fullworking order after cruciate reconstruction. Not in the ChampionsLeague squad, the Portuguese international can't play against AtleticoMadrid on Wednesday.

Ross Turnbull is in goal for the third time and Alex's availabilityis welcome with Sam Hutchinson unavailable to partner Jeffrey Bruma incentral defence due to injury.

Up front, Daniel Sturridge will start his first game since the opening reserve match in August. Fabio Borini also starts.

Behind them in midfield is Conor Clifford who since his last reserveouting has become an Under 21 international for Republic of Ireland.

'Conor has done very well as his first start in the reserves wasonly last month at Portsmouth,' says reserve team manager SteveHolland.

'He is only 17 and the Republic of Ireland isn't an obscure footballnation so they have got some good players. For Conor to be selected atUnder 21 level as a 17-year-old is great credit to him.

'The function of the reserves is two-fold,' Holland continues. 'Itis a stepping stone for the younger players, hopefully something likethe first team in the way it plays, and it is also a vehicle for seniorplayers that need some games.

'Alex has had a long spell out and is at the stage where he needs agame. I don't think he will play the full match but we are planning on45 minutes and hopefully we'll see him come through unscathed.

'We've had one game at home and three away so far and it will begood to be back at home, and it should be a good game because West Hamplay good football as well.'

Chelsea are looking to bounce back from a 2-0 London derby defeat away to Arsenal, a game that featured Joe Cole.

The team currently occupy fourth spot in the Barclays PremierReserve League South, one place above West Ham who give starts toManuel Da Costa, Luis Jimenez and Junior Stanislas. Also in their 11 isChelsea Academy product Frank Nouble who moved clubs in the summer.

On the Hammers' bench is Andrea Zola, son of a certain Gianfranco Zola.

This corresponding fixture last season was a 2-0 home win with Michael Woods and Scott Sinclair scoring.

The Chelsea line-up tonight is:

Ross Turnbull, Paulo Ferreira,Jeffrey Bruma, Alex, Ben Gordon, Jacopo Sala, Conor Clifford, NemanjaMatic, Josh McEachran, Fabio Borini, Daniel Sturridge.

Subs: Jan Sebek, Nana Ofori-Twumasi, Carl Magnay, Daniel Philliskirk, Gokhan Tore.

West Ham United: Kurucz, Brookes, N'Gala, Da Costa, Ferrari, Quashie, Payne, Stanislas, Jimenez, Montano, Nouble.

Subs: Stech, Grasser, Kearns, Zola, Dixon.

The match is at Brentford FC's Griffin Park with a 7.05pm kick-off.Entry is free to Chelsea season ticket holders. Admission fornon-season ticket holders is: Adults£5, Concessions £3.

Live coverage on Chelsea TV begins at 7pm.

Before that, there's plenty of analysis in tonight's Weekend Review at 6.15pm with Jason Cundy and Scott Minto, as the former Blues look back over the Villa defeat.

The club's official television channel hears from Carlo Ancelotti and Ricardo Carvalho before Cundy and Minto take a closer look at the game.

There are also highlights from the youth team's 3-0 win over Charlton on Saturday before a preview of the reserve game.

Source: Chelsea FC

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It took Alex a matter of seconds to announce his return tocompetitive action, the Brazilian beginning the scoring in awell-deserved big win.In contract to Saturday at Villa Park, this time a set-piece goalwas to Chelsea's advantage, Alex scoring directly from a free-kick. Daniel Sturridgemade it 2-0 in the second-half, by which time Alex had made a planneddeparture and then Fabio Borini added two more in the final 13 minutesas Chelsea counter-attacked well.

West Ham's consolation was in stoppage time. Paulo Ferreirawas still on the pitch at that stage, the right-back looking energeticas he works his way back up to full match fitness. He had a hand in thesecond goal.


The senior players grab the headlines but there were also promisingcontributions in midfield from Conor Clifford and Josh McEachran, 17and 16 years of age respectively.

The hard-working Clifford was involved in the first attack forChelsea. When Sturridge fed Borini, the Italian was tackled butSturridge picked up the pieces before being fouled.

That meant the first free-kick of the game and there was only ever going to be one taker.

From the edge of the area, Alex stepped up and bang - the wall madethe fatal mistake of jumping and the ball was in the bottom corner. Ithadn't been the Brazilian's cleanest strike but it as enough. 1-0 toChelsea with less than three minutes on the clock.

The other returning first team defender nearly added his name to thescorers on five minutes, Ferreira advancing and launching a cleanly hitshot towards the top corner. Kurucz reacted just in time to tip over.

The Hammers keeper was in action again two minutes later, saving from Jacopo Sala after Borini had foraged the ball his way.

Sturridge, whose first half contained sporadic moments of qualityplay, was gifted the ball by Ferrari on 20 minutes. The striker took afirst time swing at it and it speared just over.

Chelsea were enjoying the lion's share of possession and Ross Turnbull in the Blues goal was only called upon to make a couple of routine saves in the first 30 minutes.

Poor Borini had the medical staff on twice in two minutes followingcollisions and then Sala, playing on the right of the diamond, workedhimself space on his left foot but shot over on 34 minutes.

Clifford, operating as the anchor midfielder, had a shot spilled byKurucz but when it was picked up by Borini and eventually worked backto McEachran, the 16-year-old shot over (pictured below).


Stanislas shot powerfully wide for the visitors before the break andSturridge should have done better when found by a McEachran pass butwas well off-target.

On 43 minutes, there was a moment of hope for Frank Nouble, apartner of Borini in last season's Chelsea Youth Cup attack beforemoving to the Hammers in the summer. Quiet until then, he was putthrough one-on-one with Turnbull but his touch let him down and thedanger was cleared.

Carl Magnay was a half-time sub for Alex, a planned change. The young Geordie was himself just back from injury.

A minute in, Borini raced away down the right and squared low butSturridge couldn't make contact just a few yards out. Then Borini had agoalbound volley blocked

Clifford saw a shot deflected but into the keeper's grasp and theother man between the posts dived full length to repel a free-kick 10minutes into the half. That was Turnbull's best save of a game in whichhe spent long spells watching on. The Blues defence with Bruma at itsheart was standing strong.

At the other end, the previously peripheral Nemanja Maticand Sturridge combined to play McEachran in but the ball was clearedoff his toes as the England Under 17 international pulled the trigger.

On 64 minutes, Chelsea produced the best move of the game so far,culminating in Sturridge backheeling out to Sala who hit the bar froman angle. That was unlucky but the Hammers were tiring and stretched.

Finally, on 70 minutes, Sturridge got the goal he had threatened.Receiving the ball inside the area from Sala, he was initiallychallenged but when Ferreira, who had won the ball originally, managedto play it back, the England Under 21 international swivelled and foundthe poorly guarded net.

On 76 minutes a famous name entered the action. Andrea Zola,18-year-old son of the watching West Ham manager, came on to playleft-back for the visitors.

It was two other Italians on the Griffin Park pitch that made theimpact however. Sala advanced with pace and crossed well from the rightto pick out Borini for an excellent far-post volleyed finish to make it3-0 on 77 minutes.

That was a good goal but the fourth was an even better example ofsimple but deadly attacking. Clifford provided the midfield surge andperfectly-weighted pass down the middle; Borini the no-nonsense 84thminute execution inside the near post.

In stoppage time, Turnbull was denied a deserved clean sheet by apiece of individual quality by Nouble who turned and lashed a shot intothe top corner from the edge of the area.

Chelsea (4-diamond-2) Ross Turnbull; Paulo Ferreira, JeffreyBruma ©, Alex (Carl Magnay h-t), Ben Gordon; Conor Clifford, JacopoSala, Nemanja Matic, Josh McEachran (Daniel Philliskirk 84); FabioBorini (Gokhan Tore 86), Daniel Sturridge.

West Ham Kurucz, Brookes, N'Gala, Da Costa (Kearns 73),Ferrari (Zola 76), Quashie, Payne, Stanislas, Jimenez, Montano (Dixon68), Nouble

Source: Chelsea FC

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A very good performance from the reserves this time out. The team that was put outby Steve Holland was very balanced and had people playing where they are comfortable. The back 4 worked very hard and restricted West Ham to a couple of half chances all game, Alex and Bruma formed a very good partnership and Alex looked in excellent shape and was perfect in everything he did, even grabbing a goal for himself. Ferreira again put in another good shift and kept Frank Nouble quiet for the most part.

The midfield was very nice to see for a number of reasons. Conor Clifford finally got a chance in the holding role, and whilst it took him a while to acclimatise once he did he looked the part, his tenacious tackling and excellent passing makes him very useful in that role. Nemaja Matic took up the left side of the diamond and looked much better than in his previous outing. Jacopo Sala was switched to the right of the diamond having previously played behind the strikers and at the base and on the right he flourished, definately where we need to see him playing, his supply to the forwards was exceptional. And then there was 16 year old Josh McEachran at the top of the diamond. At times he wasn't involved as much as he should be but he had an important role to play and played it very well.

Borini and Sturridge worked hard running the west Ham back 4 ragged. Sturridge at times was trying too hard and Borini at times looked a little off the pace, especially at the start but they both did very well indeed.

The passing in this game was excellent for the main part, every now and then a sloppy pass was made and that needs to be cut out, but in general the way we played and the way we closed down West Ham just didn't give them a chance at all. It took a while to get the second and they could have got nervous knowing that a freak goal brings them right back into it but they stuck to it and got their rewards.

Player Reviews:

Ross Turnbull - A spectator for the most part with very little to do for the main part. 1 very important save at 1 - 0 to keep us in it and he took some crossed very well. Not at fault at all for their goal. Much improved from previous reserve outings and something for him to build on for sure. 7

Paulo Ferreira - Worked very hard and was extremely solid defensively. Exactly what you would expect from an old head in the reserves. He got up and down very well, and fitness wise looked very sharp, kept up with Frank Nouble all the time which is not easy at all. If Paulo can transfer this form to the first team he can still be very useful for us. 8

Jeffrey Bruma - One of 3 very young players playing in this team. The difference with Bruma is that already he is an experienced reserve player. Which says everything about him. He is just getting better and better, he is cutting out his mistakes more and more and formed an excellent partnership with Alex, i wouldn't be suprised to see him get a first team run out at some stage this season. 8

Alex - Couldn't have asked for more from him. Committed and fit, he came off at half time just for caution purposes but he played at the highest level. His anticipation was spot on and he controlled the defence. Scored the early goal from a free kick under the wall, not the blaster we expect from him but it was still a nice goal from him. 8

Ben Gordon - A much improved performance from him and definately his best reserve outing to date. Got forward well for the first time supporting Matic well and they had a decent understanding. Didn't get outplayed and was very solid defensively. More of this from him please. 7

Conor Clifford - Finally getting a chance in the holding role Conor took time getting used to the role and at first looked out of place. But he grew into it and eventually looked the part, his passing in particular was impressive and set the attacks off nicely. Hopefully a few more chances here will see him blossom into and Essien type player. 7

Nemaja Matic - Playing on the left side of the diamond and was much improved from his previous outing. He has some very nice touches on him and he has good vision. He still looks a little off the pace, not too sure if it is fitness or English football he still needs to acclimatise to, but he is getting there and he looks like he will be a very useful player for us in time. 7

Jacopo Sala - Excellent performance from Sala in this game. Finally played this season where he will be most effective and he certainly showed why that is. His passing was top class with one particulary supberb pass for Borini to score from. Probably the best player on the night and i hope that he will get more games there. 9

Josh McEachran - It is important to point out that Josh is still only 16. He is a very very talented footballer and his development is going to be very exciting to watch. Not a player gifted with blistering pace but his ball skills are exceptional. Still a lot to learn at this level and at times was a little out of things but i like seeing him at the top of the diamond. I hope he gets more reserve outing this season because the early experiences will benefit him greatly. 7

Daniel Sturridge - Eventually got the goal he was trying so very hard to score. He was clearly very desperate to impress and at times it was his undoing. He had plenty of chances to score and most of the time a little over eagerness was all that was stopping him, also a little unlucky too. He is a very talented footballer who deserves the chances in the first team. But with Borini snapping at his heals in that first team pecking order it is no wonder he is over eager. 7

Fabio Borini - At the start looked a little off the pace but quickly grew into the game. Physically Borini copes very well and his hold up play is getting better and better. I like the partnership of Borini and Sturridge very much, they work well together. Borini took both his goals exceptionally well and that is where he is at his best. He continues to impress and continues to score goals. 9

Carl Magnay - On at half time for Alex and took over were he left off, which is very good praise for him. Been unfortunate this season and should really be out on loan but he still looks a very good centre back for sure. 7

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I thought Sturridge was brilliant to be honest, he didn't stop running.

He did have a very good game for sure. But at times frustration and over eagerness let him down slightly, but that is being a little picky. Like i said Borini and Sturridge are forming an excellent partnership and understanding. Sturridge is an very talented lad and it is frustrating that he has not yet had his chances in the first team for various reasons, i am sure when he gets his shot he will impress.

We are looking good with young attacking talent, Sturridge, Di Santo is starting to get into his groove at last and Borini continues to score the goals.......

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Both his and Borini's finishing was all over the place in the first half. Infact I thought Borini was very quiet until his two goals popped along. Sturridge was much the better performer out of the two. Everyone played very well, although I thought Gordon, Sala, Bruma and Clifford were the stand out ones, along with the two strikers.

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Solid performance imo, had to be Nouble to fuckin score!

he's really gonna bite us in the bum, ah well. He should realise his errors especially after Borini played vs QPR...

It was certainly a surprising decision.

And if you think about it at West Ham he's 'sixth' striker after: Ashton, Diamanti, C.Cole, Hines, Franco. At Chelsea he'd probably be a 'sixth' striker too. Although he's got some prem minutes with West Ham this season, I don't think they'll come as readily as he thought.

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It was certainly a surprising decision.

And if you think about it at West Ham he's 'sixth' striker after: Ashton, Diamanti, C.Cole, Hines, Franco. At Chelsea he'd probably be a 'sixth' striker too. Although he's got some prem minutes with West Ham this season, I don't think they'll come as readily as he thought.

Agree with you both. Borini getting games has certainly shown he was a little hasty. Apart from his goal in this game he wasn't in it and wasn't a threat to us at all. He put in better showings for us at reserve level.

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