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Chelsea Reserves v Birmingham City Reserves


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Two days after making first team debuts, Nemanja Matic and Gael Kakuta can be seen in action live on Chelsea TV tonight (Monday). Also continuing on from his sub appearance on Saturday is FabioBorini (pictured). All three players start for the reserves in a homegame at Brentford FC.

In a young but strong looking line-up selected by Steve Holland,there is also a place for Jeffrey Bruma, fresh from Dutch Under 21success, and Sam Hutchinson.

Hutchinson will be playing his first football since the early October when he suffered injury away to Arsenal's reserves.

Another returning from a recent Under 21 call-up is midfielder ConorClifford who was given his second cap at that level by the Republic ofIreland last week.

Milan Lalkovic, who scored the equaliser in an exciting 3-3 draw at home to Fulham in the last outing, also starts tonight.

Tonight's opponents are Birmingham who have not won this season. Their seven games have yielded three draws.

They have a new coach, Malky Thomson, choosing the side for thefirst time and he includes former Middlebrough defender Franck Queudrue.

'I'm looking forward to the game as we've had a decent run ofperformances of late, says Chelsea reserve team manager Steve Holland.

'From the last three games, West Ham was a good performance and agood result, Stoke was a good performance and a disappointing result,and against Fulham, given the age of the team, I was very happy.

'Theexciting part is that we can play Gael Kakuta again. Although he waseligible for the Fulham game he was away on international duty, so weare looking forward to getting him going again.

'I have workedwith him a lot in training and the ultimate aim is to transfer thatwork into the matches. He has missed a bit and that will have hinderedhis development so we will see what he can produce now. Sam Hutchinsonplaying is also good.'

Borini played his first Italy Under 21 games, a 2-0 defeat toHungary and a 4-0 win against Luxembourg during the international break.

'Unfortunately he didn't get on the scoresheet,' comments hisreserve manager, 'but he was playing with Serie A players who areplaying week in, week out, which can only be good for his development.He played alongside Mario Balotelli from Inter Milan in one of thosegames, which can only be good for him.'

While Birmingham prop up the table, Chelsea are currently fourth inthe Barclays Premier Reserve League South, five points behind leadersAston Villa.

The Chelsea team tonight is:

Ross Turnbull, Nikki Ahamed, Sam Hutchinson, Jeffrey Bruma, Ben Gordon, Nemanja Matic, Conor Clifford, Joshua McEachran, Fabio Borini, Gael Kakuta, Milan Lalkovic.

Subs: Jan Sebek, Kenny Strickland, Daniel Philliskirk, Billy Clifford, Gokhan Tore.

Birmingham: Colin Doyle, Daniel Preston, Jared Wilson, Keith Fahey,Giovanny Espinoza, Franck Queudrue, James O'Shea, Jordon Mutch, JakeJervis, Robin Shroot, Gary McSheffrey.

Subs: Jacob Rowe, Jack Butland, Ashley Sammons, Akwasi Asante, Omar Boggle.

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, the club's official television channel airs Weekend Review with Scott Minto and Jason Cundy at 6.15pm, featuring exclusive reaction from Kakuta to his debut.

Source: Chelsea FC

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Excellent strong team being fielded......

Bruma and Hutchinson together will be very strong. The midfield looks fantastic and hopefully Borini and Lalkovic can link up well together. Hopefully will see a good result from these lads tonight...

For such a young team we are fielding there is still 6 players now who have made first team appearances :)

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Well i have to say that this was probably the most disspointing match of the season so far. The defeats to Villa and Arsenal were poor performances but they were excellent teams we were playing against. Birmingham's side was not a great side and have been bottom of the table and that was their first win. We had a nice strong team out and we played very poorly, the pitch cut up a lot but that can only excuse so much. The passing was poor, the way we approached it was poor, pretty much everything was way below standard for whatever reason.

Neither side looked great but we managed to get our heads infront with a good finish by Fabio Borini who was put through by an excellent ball by Conor Clifford. But from then on we never really kicked it up a gear and in the end some sloppy defending and lack of invention cost us the game. With Villa coming up again next week if we play like that again we are going to get stuffed.

Player Reviews:

Ross Turnbull - Despite conceeding 2 goals he didn't really have too much to do. He made a couple of poor choices at times and is still not looking to be at the level that we are expecting. If he is not careful players like Rhys Taylor and Jan Sebek could quickly overtake him. 5

Nikki Ahamed - Started at right back and moved to left back in the second half when Sam Hutchinson came on. He actually found himself getting forward better and in more space once at left back. Didn't do too much wrong but not as good as we would have liked to see from him given some previous performances. 6

Ben Gordon - Had a better game, still fairly sloppy with his passing which he really needs to look at improving. Found himself in space a lot in the first half high up the pitch, moved to centre back in the second and did ok, never really noticed him much but can't remeber anything he did really wrong either. 6

Sam Hutchinson - Good to see Sam back from injury again. Only played the first half and hopefully that was a precaution rather than anything actually being wrong with him. Wasn't put under too much pressure in the first half, but like the rest of the team would half liked to have seen more from him. 6

Kenny Strickland - A mixed bag from Kenny in this game, the first half i thought he was very good, he got in the right positions and read the game well. Second half and he was far less composed and made a few mistakes, the biggest allowing Birmingham clear through for their second goal. 5

Nemaja Matic - After a discussion on this board yesterday about Matic and how he was supposed to be a holding player, he actually played in the holding role last night. He did well and was probably our best player on the night. His defensive side is in need of improvement if we are thinking of playing him there but his passing was much improved, he picked out some great balls and his compusure is excellent. He like everyone else though was guilty of poor passing and giving the ball away cheaply at times. 7

Conor Clifford - Moved to the right side of the diamond for this game and he wasn't as big of an influence as he has been when played in the holding role. Would prefer to see him there in the future. Excellent pass for our goal but needs to be a much bigger influence than this in the future. 6

Josh McEachran - Played on the left side of the diamond and was pretty dissapointing. Hardly anything of note to say of him, was probably his most anonymous game from him so far. Nothing came off for him and like i said you could have been forgiven for forgetting he was on the pitch. 5

Gael Kakuta - Anyone watching this game to see more brilliant stuff from Kakuta was in for a massive dissapointment. Like the rest of the team absolutely nothing game off for him and he just looked a lot poorer than he is. After his first team debut we would have liked to have seen him brimming with confidence. The slower game definately doesn't suit him but he needed to show more in this game. 5

Milan Lalkovic - Milan works very hard indeed but i am still not convinced at all that the centre forward position is somewhere we can utilise him. He wants to be running at defenders and causing trouble. He tried hard but nothing really happened for him. 6

Fabio Borini - Got his goal and again worked hard, showed good hold up play but was guilty at times of being a little gready and making the wrong choices. Still one of our better players on the night, but needs to be looking for other options instead of going for difficult shots. 6

Billy Clifford - Got half a game at right back and did OK. Got forward well and didn't get overrun at the back. Not too much else can be said unfortunately. 6

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It was a flat Monday evening for the reserves at Brentford when theylost a lead to give Birmingham their first win of the season.The expression 'after the Lord Mayor's show' may not mean much to overseas youngsters Gael Kakuta, Fabio Borini and Nemanja Matic but starting this game just over 48 hours after their acclaimed sub appearances at Stamford Bridge, the defeat was a big anticlimax.

It was Borini who scored the Chelsea goal and leading the attack with Daniel Sturridgehaving returned from England Under 21 duty with an injury, he lookedsharp. Matic was the team's quality performer, especially with hisfirst-half passing, but for Kakuta, playing at the front of thediamond, it was an evening when little of what he tried came off.

There was a change at the back from the side first announced.Jeffrey Bruma pulled out with an injury to be replaced by KennyStrickland. Unfortunately his mistake gave the Midlanders their winninggoal.

There was plenty of possession for Chelsea early on without pushingBirmingham, a team with three draws and four defeats from seven gamesthis season, towards their goal as much as manager Steve Holland wouldhave wished.

There was a 10th minute scare for Birmingham keeper ColinDoyle when he inadvertently let Borini close his kick down but thericochet hit the side-netting just a yard wide of the post.

It was Matic who gave Chelsea impetus for the first time in the game. His excellent 15thminute pass gave Borini a race with the experienced Franck Queudrue.The recently capped Italian Under 21 international got his cross-shotin, but it flew wide of the far post with Milan Lalkovic closing.

Borini had far more success just a minute later. Conor Clifford wasthe supply this time, playing a short but clever pass after Kakuta'sball had bounced off the defence. It was the type of chance Borinithrives on, his finish from 10 yards giving the 18-year-old his fifthreserve goal of the season.

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Birmingham, given their record, could have been expected to crumble,but a loose ball was picked up by James O'Shea whose shot was deflectedover Ross Turnbull's goal.

Chelsea left-back Ben Gordon over-lapped on the half-hour but his shot was tame.

A minute later the equaliser came when Birmingham found a waythrough the heart of the defence. There was an attempted exchange ofpasses between O'Shea and Robin Shroot as Gordon charged in ,and atouch of good fortune for the visitors with a deflection that kept theball moving on to O'Shea who, one-on-one with previously unemployedTurnbull made no mistake. It was not good defending from the Blues.

For the final 15 minutes of the first half, Birmingham were as muchin the game as Chelsea and it took a good header over his own bar fromHutchinson to deal with a dangerous cross.

But them Matic produced another moment of class, picking out atightly-marked Borini with a Hoddle-esque pass. The striker moved theball quickly inside and shot a couple of yards wide.

Before the break, Kakuta at last got in on the action but the keeper saved his low shot.

Billy Clifford was a half-time sub for Sam Hutchison who was making a return after seven weeks out.

Borini, from a very tight angle on the left, turned a McEachran passjust wide of the far post eight minutes into the second-half. A dippingshot from striker Lalkovic was pushed away by Doyle.

Chelsea's game lacked cohesion and purpose on a pitch that wascutting up. There was a timely block from Gordon and Turnbull made ameal of a save as Birmingham reminded Chelsea they still had teeth.

They bit on 73 minutes when Strickland mis-controlled a pass and wasrobbed by Jake Jervis. The Birmingham centre-forward raced clear andslipped his shot past the advancing Turnbull.

Conor Clifford could have levelled it up straight away but blastedover from the edge of the area and Birmingham could have extended thelead close to the end when Gary McSheffrey drilled a shot across goalbut wide.

Chelsea: Ross Turnbull; Nikki Ahamed, Sam Hutchinson (Billy Clifford h-t), Kenny Strickland, Ben Gordon; Nemanja Matic, Conor Clifford, Joshua McEachran (Mitrovic 88); Gael Kakuta; Milan Lalkovic (Gokhan Tore 80), Fabio Borini.

Birmingham: Colin Doyle, Daniel Preston, Jared Wilson, Keith Fahey,Giovanny Espinoza, Franck Queudrue, James O'Shea, Jordon Mutch (AshleySammons 78), Jake Jervis, Robin Shroot, Gary McSheffrey.

Source: Chelsea FC

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Player Reviews:

Ross Turnbull - 5

Nikki Ahamed - 6

Ben Gordon - 6

Sam Hutchinson - 6

Kenny Strickland - 5

Nemaja Matic - 7

Conor Clifford - 6

Josh McEachran - 5

Gael Kakuta - 5

Milan Lalkovic - 6

Fabio Borini - 6

Billy Clifford - 6

No real comments on the players, just a general one (although probably directed at Kakuta / McEachran). Would you prefer a player who consistently produces 7's and 8's every week or someone who turns out 5's or 6's followed by the odd 9 every 1 in 4 games? It seems we have loads of players who "can" be great every now and then but few that can turn out above-average performances every week, consistently keeping the ball and playing simple. If you watch the first team, taking on a man is rarely the preferred option, just working it around the pitch, waiting for the incisive ball. We just keep seeing the younger teams playing footballing equivalent of basketball where they see a shot clock start as soon as they pass the half-way line and have to get off a shot or wasteful glory pass within 10 seconds. I like a turn of pace and bit of skill as the next man but would happily settle for some one-touch passes straight through the oppsition defence.

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No real comments on the players, just a general one (although probably directed at Kakuta / McEachran). Would you prefer a player who consistently produces 7's and 8's every week or someone who turns out 5's or 6's followed by the odd 9 every 1 in 4 games? It seems we have loads of players who "can" be great every now and then but few that can turn out above-average performances every week, consistently keeping the ball and playing simple. If you watch the first team, taking on a man is rarely the preferred option, just working it around the pitch, waiting for the incisive ball. We just keep seeing the younger teams playing footballing equivalent of basketball where they see a shot clock start as soon as they pass the half-way line and have to get off a shot or wasteful glory pass within 10 seconds. I like a turn of pace and bit of skill as the next man but would happily settle for some one-touch passes straight through the oppsition defence.

I can definately see where you are coming from here, but these reserves games are always so up and down, what with lack of regular games and squads changing so drastically. There is no doubt that the performances are not consistant enough, but that has always been the case with the reserves, but how much bearing does it really have on an individual players ability?

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I can definately see where you are coming from here, but these reserves games are always so up and down, what with lack of regular games and squads changing so drastically. There is no doubt that the performances are not consistant enough, but that has always been the case with the reserves, but how much bearing does it really have on an individual players ability?

Fair comments as that's a case of conditions and opposition too but the question stands as just a general one. Irrespective of who we're talking bout and what level, what would your general preference be?

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Fair comments as that's a case of conditions and opposition too but the question stands as just a general one. Irrespective of who we're talking bout and what level, what would your general preference be?

You mean what would i prefer, for us to generate players who are able to control the ball with neat and incisive passing or a player who will beat a few men?

Ideally we need a balance of the 2, but i think in our first team we need a few players who can open up holes with some exceptional skill, so if i was to pick one i would go for the skill........ or am i misunderanding your question entirely :)

For me with our youngsters at the moment my biggest concern is that i think Dermot Drummy is the wrong man to bring through our U18's....

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You mean what would i prefer, for us to generate players who are able to control the ball with neat and incisive passing or a player who will beat a few men?

Ideally we need a balance of the 2, but i think in our first team we need a few players who can open up holes with some exceptional skill, so if i was to pick one i would go for the skill........ or am i misunderanding your question entirely smile.gif

For me with our youngsters at the moment my biggest concern is that i think Dermot Drummy is the wrong man to bring through our U18's....

No, I don't think you misunderstood, makes sense. I see that the youngsters still don't play the same as the First Team (not skill or technical levels) in the way that they still try to do too much, rather than keep it flowing and simple, using a bit of skill to open up space as you suggest, rather than holding on to it too much. I've seen reports of people caught in possession, which should hardly happen, even on a rbbish pitch. On the Drummy issue, coming from Arsenal you'd expect the technical side to be at the front of his thinking but still not sure if he's just another who likes a player who has "a good engine" or can "put a foot in". As you say, it's about balance, just that the technical level is lacking in some players and I'm still surprised at just how one-footed some of them are. OK to have a dominant foot, but not if you're forced to always get the ball on it to do anything.

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No, I don't think you misunderstood, makes sense. I see that the youngsters still don't play the same as the First Team (not skill or technical levels) in the way that they still try to do too much, rather than keep it flowing and simple, using a bit of skill to open up space as you suggest, rather than holding on to it too much. I've seen reports of people caught in possession, which should hardly happen, even on a rbbish pitch. On the Drummy issue, coming from Arsenal you'd expect the technical side to be at the front of his thinking but still not sure if he's just another who likes a player who has "a good engine" or can "put a foot in". As you say, it's about balance, just that the technical level is lacking in some players and I'm still surprised at just how one-footed some of them are. OK to have a dominant foot, but not if you're forced to always get the ball on it to do anything.

Actually thats a very good point, we DO need our young players to be developed in the mould of our first team otherwise when they do get their chance they will not be on the same wavelength. I think what we are seeing at the moment is a group of very very talented young players who do not seem to be (in my opinion anyway) getting the right level of coaching?? They are certainly not playing up to the standard we would expect from them....

Do we have at the moment the best possible coaches for these talented young players? Brendan Rodgers was fantastic with the reserves and Paul Clement did wonderful things with the youth team in his spell there, most notibly getting them to the FA Youth Cup Final. Steve Holland seems to be doing a very good job now with the reserves but as we go down to the academy do we have the right coaches? I am not so sure.

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