Chelsea are set to kick off their 3rd FA Youth Cup final in the past 4 seasons tonight when they take on Norwich City at Carrow Rd. The final is a 2-legged tie, in which the away goal rule does not apply. If the clubs are level after 180 minutes, we'd play an extra 30 before heading to penalties to decide it.
That extra-time/penalties format is how Norwich City found themselves in their first final since 1983. They defeated a tough Nottingham Forest side 1-0 in the first leg, and then fell 1-0 in the return leg (with 10 men) to force extra time. They defended well, survived to penalties, and prevailed 5-4 to advance.
Chelsea had a bit more comfortable semi, defeating a quality Liverpool side 2-0 at Anfield before winning 2-1 at Stamford Bridge. That scoreline might have actually been a bit flattering to Liverpool, as Chelsea U18 side played some of the better football I've seen from them this season.
The 2 sides met in this competition last season, with Chelsea eliminating the Canaries on penalties after playing to a 0-0 draw. They've not yet met this season.
Chelsea team news: The Chelsea team will be very similar to the one we've grown accustomed to seeing over the past several weeks. Adam Nditi suffered an ankle injury during the NextGen Series semifinal, but has recently returned to action and played for about an hour. He's probably fit enough to last 90 minutes should Ade Viveash decide to start him.
Andreas Christensen is also nearing a return, and could be ready to feature again after coming up injured against Liverpool. Nathan Ake was not with the first team yesterday, meaning that Christensen will likely feature at right back if he's selected.
With the way that both John Swift and Ola Aina played in the semifinal, it may make the decision on what to do with both Christensen and Nditi a bit more difficult. My best guess for tonight is that we will see the following 4-2-3-1 formation: Mitchell Beeney, Andreas Christensen, Alex Davey, Nathan Ake, Adam Nditi, John Swift, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Jeremie Boga, Lewis Baker, Alex Kiwomya, Islam Feruz
Norwich City team news: The Norwich City website lists the team available for selection as follows:
Will Britt (GK); Ben Wyatt, Cameron Norman, Harry Barker, Harry Toffolo, Kevin Lokko, Kyle McFadden; Cameron King, Cameron McGeehan, Harvey Hodd, Henry Randall, Jacob Murphy, Josh Murphy, Joe Peacock, Reece Hall-Johnson, Rian Carroll; Carlton Morris, Dominic St Louis, Rhys Browne
Just judging by what little I've seen of Norwich and the match reports found on their website, I'd guess we will be looking at a 4-3-3 formation featuring the following 11 players: Will Britt, Cameron Norman, Harry Toffolo, Kyle McFadden, Ben Wyatt, Cameron McGeehan, Reece Hall-Johnson, Cameron King, Josh Murphy, Carlton Morris, Jacob Murphy
From what I've seen of Norwich, the players to watch tonight will be the Murphy brothers and Reece Hall-Johnson. The Murphy's are twins that thrive on pace, some dribbling skills, and high volumes of shots. Both have been capped recently by the England U19 side, but neither really looked all that impressive due to some issues linking up with teammates.
Hall-Johnson is a speedy midfielder much in the mold of Ramires. Like Ramires, the Norwich coaching staff has had a bit of trouble finding a position that best suits him. Watch for him to pop up all over the place, but also watch for Chelsea to take advantage if he finds himself out of position.
Date/Time: Monday, April 29, 2013 at 7:45 pm BST
Location: Carrow Road, Norwich
Television/Streaming: Coverage of this evening's game begins at 7:30 pm BST, and can be seen on ITV4 and Chelsea TV
Return Leg: The second leg of the tie will be held at Stamford Bridge, and will be played on May 13, 2013 and will kick off at 7:45 pm BST