Tonight is a big night for Chelsea not just at first-team level, but also in the Academy, with an FA Youth Cup fourth round trip to Charlton to contend with.
Coach Adi VIveash believes his Under-18 group, which lifted the Youth Cup trophy last season, is well prepared for another shot at glory this time around with a superb record so far in the 2012/13 campaign, beaten just once before Christmas.
Since then, the side has played just once, however, in last Friday’s 0-0 draw at Southampton, while some of the group also received match action in the Under-21s’ 2-0 win over Fulham on Thursday.
‘It was important the boys had a Christmas break but they’ve come back and been working hard for the last couple of weeks now,’ Viveash explained. ‘Everyone involved in the Youth Cup squad has had a game, and to be fair those in the Under-21 group looked a little sharper than the ones in the Under-18s, but I’m confident that after another week working together, they’ll all be ready on Wednesday night.’
As usual, nothing is being taken for granted, and Viveash has watched Charlton more than once to identify where we can triumph.
‘We have watched them, we had a DVD of their third round win against Wolves and we know they’ll give us a tough time,’ he said. ‘They will also see us as a scalp, the big boys who won it last year and we’re there to be knocked down. They reached the quarter-finals last year and should have beaten Manchester United, so we might have played them in the semis.
‘They’ll want to do well again but we have a very close group with a strong mentality.
‘We have had strong groups and talented players in the past, but I feel this year this group combines the two and is very good on both sides of the game.
‘With that in mind I will always be confident whoever we face in this competition, and I hope that the boys can perform on the night.’
There is further cause for calm with the knowledge that Viveash has a complete squad to work with, having been without four players in the last round at Colchester United.
‘We have a fully fit squad and this week we’ve been working with 20 boys,’ he said. ‘To select an 11 is a challenge and then to have to name substitutes and leave a couple out is difficult, but it’s a good problem for us to have, and no doubt there will be a couple of disappointed lads not involved, but that’s all part of the learning process too.’
Tonight’s game is live and exclusive from 7pm UK time on the official Chelsea website, but you will need to be a Chelsea TV subscriber to view.