The U18 squad will begin it's annual march towards the FA Youth Cup again today at Staines Town against Doncaster. It's a bit odd to see a neutral site game, but FA rules force the teams to play at a ground with seating for ticket holders and Chelsea did not have Stamford Bridge available. The game will be available on Chelsea TV for those of you with access, and if you don't subscribe already this is the time of year where it really starts to be well worth the money. The game kicks off at 1:30 PM EST (6:30 PM in merry old England), but replays will be available on Chelsea TV for the next two weeks or so. So now that you know when to watch, I suppose we should let you know a little about whom you'll be watching. Here are a few of the more prominent names that may be involved throughout the cup run.
- Lucas Piazon - Most of you are probably aware of the young Brazilian by this point. We signed him away from Sao Paulo last spring to the dismay of his many other suitors, and since then he's moved to London and managed to complete his transfer ahead of schedule. Because of this, Piazon is expected to start the game tomorrow somewhere on the attacking line. We profiled Piazon last march, and since then we've all probably taken advantage of any chances we get to watch the exciting young Brazilian. While he's played mostly center forward or striker for the Brazilian national side, he's generally been deployed on either wing for the Chelsea reserves thus far. He's been awfully impressive, and in the last few reserve games he's easily been one of the best players on the pitch.
- Jamal Blackman - Jamal is known by his teammates as "Big Black", and when you get a look at him it's pretty clear why. Blackman is huge, standing in at 6'6" with exceptional athleticism. He's the regular stater for the reserve side, but he's still eligible for the Youth Cup this season and expected to be called on. Blackman is highly thought of around England, as he's been a regular at every level of the national team growing up. It's hard to project keepers going forward, but there is very little not to like about Blackman.
The youth team started out the season poorly, but as of late they have been on a run of good form. Combine the good recent results with the reinforcements we'll be drawing from the reserve team (Piazon, Kane, Chalobah), and this squad will probably be one of the favorites despite being likely the youngest. I'm sure you'll start to hear a little more about some of the youngsters who continue to impress, and there will probably be profiles coming on several of them as the season progresses. If you get the chance to watch today, I'd highly recommend taking it. Enjoy...