YOUTH CUP PREVIEW: THE FINAL PUSH

Football at Stamford Bridge has not finished for the season yet. Chelsea’s Under-18s are aiming to lift silverware there this evening (Monday) in a game that can be seen live on Chelsea TV.

The available tickets for the FA Youth Cup final second leg have sold out, so there promises to be plenty of backing for our young players as they aim to overturn a 3-2 deficit from the first leg a week ago when they played Fulham at Craven Cottage.

There is no ‘away goals rule’ in FA Youth Cup football, and Chelsea’s youth team manager Adi Viveash, who led the team to win this trophy in 2012 and to the final last season, rates Fulham as firm favourites going into the tie but maintains faith in his players’ ability to overcome the odds.

‘Fulham have it to lose and we have definitely got it to win,’ Viveash tells the official Chelsea website, ‘and it will be interesting to see how the Fulham players handle the occasion because they are expected to win having the lead in the tie.

‘We certainly know we can win this cup, there is no doubt about that, and we will be ready and we can be relaxed. Hopefully we can play the type of football we try to breed here but we want to win.’

Fulham are playing in their first FA Youth Cup final but were FA Premier Youth League champions the two previous seasons. Being ready to take on local rivals for a significant proportion of Chelsea’s FA Youth Cup squad means overcoming the additional demands of our Under-21 team’s quest to be crowned national champions for that age group.

With the Chelsea Academy often developing and pushing the boys by playing them higher than their nominal age group, 10 of those involved in the Youth Cup final first leg were in the 16-man squad for the Under-21s; successful play-off semi-final away to Manchester City on Thursday night.

‘It is part of being a successful academy,’ accepts Viveash, ‘and it is a fantastic end to the season. Thursday’s result means that although the players were tired and had a long journey, they were delighted they are in another final and it gives them the chance to achieve, and that is what it is all about. It is about learning from that and making sure we are ready to go.

‘Straight after the Youth Cup final first leg, they had to prepare for another semi and they dealt with that well, and then they recovered on Friday and on Saturday and Sunday there was some preparation and DVD work but not much training.’

Not all the squad were away with Dermot Drummy’s Under-21s and as in last year’s final against Norwich, three schoolboys played at Fulham – goalscorer Jay Dasilva, centre-back Jake Clarke-Salter and Dominic Solanke who has led the attack throughout. Playing in front of a big support at the Bridge can only do those Under-16s and the older members of the team good.

‘The fans who went to Fulham were brilliant,’ praises Viveash.

‘They gave us fantastic backing and they were the ones doing the singing, and at the end of the game I think they realised how important our second goal could be and for them to give the boys a good clap after was important, because they are young players and they are giving their all.

‘We need the crowd to be our 12th man and that is the good aspect of having the second leg at home. Hopefully the fans can play their part and make it a really special evening.

‘The fans I have spoken to were very supportive, saying how they have really enjoyed the way the boys have played this year.

‘This is our last game of the season as well, and it is no time for feeling tired. It is about mentally being strong and one big push to achieve our goal hopefully.’

Chelsea TV’s live coverage begins at 7.30pm and the game can also be followed via our @chelseafc Twitter feed.

– Supporters are reminded there will be no tube service after the game due to industrial action beginning at 9pm on Monday. Supporters travelling to central London should walk to Clapham Junction. Visit tfl.gov.uk or follow @TfLTravelAlerts for the latest travel information.

>>Click for more information about industrial action on the London Underground affecting transport after the game.

>>Click for a walking route to Clapham Junction

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