If you've been reading this site for any amount of time, you'll know that we're big fans of several of Chelsea's younger players - Josh McEachran and Patrick van Aanholt especially in my case. You'll also know that Carlo Ancelotti has stuck with his veterans in the vast majority of important games, despite a certain amount of under-performance over the last couple of months. McEachran has seen just a few minutes of Premier League action despite being magnificent in his Champions League games, and van Aanholt has yet to make his league debut with the club.
While PvA's absence is understandable - he's not ready for regular starts yet and makes plenty of mistakes despite his potential - Josh McEachran's is less so. I've already described the 17 year-old as Chelsea's best passer and a future stalwart of England's midfield, and every time I've had the pleasure of watching him on the ball I've become more convinced that he's ready to make a difference not just years down the line but in the here and now. I know I'm not alone, but I didn't expect to have an ally in Carlo:
McEachran is ready to start in the Premier League. He has confidence, personality and he is strong. You look at him and think he won't be strong in the tackle but he was against Ipswich. He doesn't lack anything.
-Carlo Ancelotti. Source: Daily Mail
Well that sounds really promising. I wrote earlier today that I don't think McEachran should start against Blackburn due to the sort of muscle that Rovers deploy in midfield, but I have to admit that I'd be really excited to see #46 take to the field after warmups at Stamford Bridge tomorrow. McEachran really helped to invigorate the team playing alongside Ramires last weekend, and the linked article implies that he might just manage to push an off-form Michael Essien out of the Chelsea lineup (I think an Essien-McEachran pairing is more likely).
McEachran, who has been with the team since the tender age of eight, has been a fixture in England's youth sides and led Chelsea to their first FA Youth Cup win in fifty years last season. Of course, he isn't the only Chelsea youngster vying for a place in the first team, and Daniel Sturridge and Gael Kakuta could both get extended auditions based on the slumping forms of Florent Malouda and Didier Drogba. Ancelotti's making it pretty clear that the veterans have to play well to keep their place in the starting XI, and I totally endorse that message. Better late than never!