Chelsea advanced to the quarterfinals of the 2017-18 League Cup thanks to last night’s 2-1 win over Everton at Stamford Bridge, improving on last season’s campaign by at least one round. Last year’s 2-1 defeat by West Ham United at this stage was notable as one of the few times the 3-4-3 system alone did not give Chelsea the upper hand — but while teams have figured out, more or less, how to play against it since then, that is still no substitute for individual effort, team cohesion, and just good old fashioned effort and commitment. And for the most part, Chelsea had the clear upper hand over Everton in that regard.
“If I have to find a negative thing tonight it is that like against Nottingham Forest we conceded a goal in the last minute, and maybe we paid for a bit of lack of attention, but I repeat I must be pleased because this tie was a very tough one for us.”
Fortunately, moments of such lack of attention were few and far between, especially during a very controlled and systematic first-half performance.
“The performance was very good in the first half when we created chances to score, and then in the second half we suffered a bit. But that is normal when you play against Everton. They are a good team and they have changed their coach and usually when this happens, the players want to try to give more. For this reason this game was very dangerous for us and I am very happy because tonight I saw a lot of positive things.”
The biggest positives were undoubtedly the performances of the youngsters trusted on this occasion, led by the youngest player on the pitch, 17-year-old Ethan Ampadu, who played the full game in Chelsea’s midfield. And while there are many big teams left in the competition at this stage, including both Manchester teams, Conte sounds ready to give the same opportunities to the kids (and backups) in the next round and see just how far they can take us.
“Tonight Charly Musonda, Kenedy and Ethan Ampadu played a good game and don’t forget Ampadu is only 17 years old. It is very important to trust in these players because they deserve to have this chance and I am very happy because I had the answer I was waiting for.
“Now we are in the fifth round and we want to fight for this competition. It will be difficult because a lot of the best teams are in it but we want to give this opportunity to our young players in these type of games. You take risks but if you want to develop these young players you have to give the chance to play tough games, not soft games.”
-Antonio Conte; source: Chelsea FC
The draw for the quarterfinals will be at 16:00 BST today, with matches set to be played the week of December 18.