Monday, September 27, 2010

Chelsea Reserves 3 - 1 Liverpool Reserves

Both of these clubs, particularly Chelsea, have invested in their youth systems during recent years, so this was an interesting spectacle for those wanting to asses the progress of the underlying squads of each club. Interesting enough for some of the more established players to turn up at Chelsea's Cobham training ground to have a look at any potential competition for their first team place.

Didier Drogba, sat nonchalantly on a fence in one corner of the ground, will have been impressed by Chelsea's quick footed, quick thinking Turkish u21 player Gokhan Tore, who constantly caused trouble down their right flank in the first half. Letting go the first shot of the game, a stinging left foot effort from outside the area after cutting inside from the flank, the shot fired straight at Liverpool's Danish keeper Hansen, was a signal of intent. 32 year old Drogba might hope that players such as Tore will do some of the running for him if he remains at Chelsea in the upcoming seasons.

If these reserve sides are a test run for players wanting to step up to premier league level, then the physicality of Chelsea's players such as Nathaniel Chalobah, Daniel Mills Pappoe and Rohan Ince should stand them in good stead if they are ever called to represent the first team. Compare this with the players they were marking, the tricky but lightweight Spaniards, Suso and Daniel Pacheco, and there you have one of the reasons for Chelsea's dominance in this game.

John Terry and Paul Ince were spotted together in the stands during the first half, the latter watching his son Tom give a promising, if not convincing performance on the wing for Liverpool, and the former probably enjoying the physical yet composed nature of the two Chelsea centre backs (Rohan Ince is no relation). Thomas Ince's performance typified the frustrating afternoon for Liverpool's attacking players, who seemed to run out of ideas, or into a brick wall, in the final third.

On the odd occasion they were able to create, crosses from Amoo and Suso were met only by Chelsea defenders, unopposed. A parallel with Liverpool's first team in that there was very often no attacking player lurking in the box. Snippets of attacking creativity were evident, but nothing sustained enough to mount a serious attack.

Positives for Liverpool were the performances of Jonjo Shelvey in central midfield, and Jack Robinson at left back.

Shelvey looked willing to put himself about, getting tackles in in front of the back four, akin to Gerrard when he plays in that role, but lacking the passing accuracy of the Liverpool skipper when it came to distributing the ball further forward.

Jack Robinson had a tough task marking the aforementioned Tore, plus dealing with Jose Bosingwa continuing his return from injury, making his typical 'more right winger than right back' runs on the overlap. The young Englishman looked stretched at times but still managed to prevent Bosingwa crossing from the byline on a number of occasions.

The other stand out players for Chelsea were Fabio Borini, the troublesome (from a defenders' point of view) striker who was involved in most of Chelsea's good attacking moves, and another young English left back, Billy Clifford, who mirrored Bosingwa's overlapping runs and looked comfortable when moving into midfield in the second half.

Overall this game looked more like Chelsea Reserves v Liverpool Youth, despite there not being much age difference between the sides. Man of the match would have to be Fabio Borini who took his goal well, set up another, and generally caused trouble for the Liverpool defence throughout. If Gokhan Tore hadn't been taken off at half time, it may well have been an even bigger winning margin for Chelsea than the final scoreline of 3-1.

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