Chelsea continued to exert their sheer dominance at the under-18 level by winning their second trophy this week, and fourth overall this season, making light work of U18 Premier League Northern Division Champions, Manchester United in the national final.
That makes just the four trophies then for the U18s.
The 3-0 win also saw Chelsea qualify for next season’s UEFA Youth League, untying the fate of their qualification from the first team’s to the Champions League.
Jody Morris began the match with a similar flexible 3-4-3 shape as in the FA Youth Cup final, although there were a couple of changes to the lineup. Dujon Sterling started on the right side of the back-three instead of Jonathan Panzo, alongside Marc Guehi and Reece James. In turn, Tariq Lamptey started at right wing-back with Juan Castillo on the opposite flank and a midfield pairing of Billy Gilmour and captain Conor Gallagher. Callum Hudson-Odoi and George McEachran operated as the attackers playing in behind striker Charlie Brown, who started instead of International duty-bound Daishawn Redan.
Manchester United weren’t the Northern Division Champions for nothing - they are a well-drilled, talented and expertly coached team but simply no match for Chelsea on the day. Dujon Sterling gave us the lead at the sunny Leigh Sports Village in only the 4th minute, after United simply failed to get the ball out of their box; Callum Hudson-Odoi and Marc Guehi threatened the United goal with close efforts as well, not soon after. The Blues kept possession of the ball impressively and reduced United to the odd counter-attack for most of the game save for the end of the first half, where the Chelsea boys’ concentration began to slip a little.
A formation change in the second half, to 4-2-3-1 with Sterling moving further forward and George McEachran assuming a number 10 role put Chelsea back in cruise control. Billy Gilmour doubled the lead after being found at the edge of the area from a free-kick, with a semi-scuffed volley finding its way to the back of the net. Tariq Lamptey’s surge forward from defence, exchange with Charlie Brown and subsequent effort fired into the roof of the net was the final blow and ensured that Chelsea would retain the title of National Champions, despite Billy Gilmour’s sending off after two yellow cards in rapid succession being a bit of a dampener on things.
Here’s another statistic to reflect the excellence of the Under-18 side, this season.
#CFCU18 have kept 23 clean sheets this season (with one more match to officially be played), the most the club's U18 team have kept in 44 years.— Chelsea Youth (@chelseayouth) May 5, 2018
Jamie Cumming made 11 appearances for the team in 2017-18, keeping 10 clean sheets, and conceding just the one goal.
Massive congratulations to everyone involved in the Under-18s’ quadruple haul of the FA Youth Cup, U18 PL Trophy, U18 Southern Division and National Division titles. These are golden years for the Chelsea academy, long may they continue.