CHELSEA have one of the finest academies in world football and the 1-0 FA Cup win at Barnsley proved just how important the youth movement has become.
The Blues struggled immensely to see off their stubborn and intense Championship hosts to set up a home quarter-final with Sheffield United – and they have to thank the players who were raised at Cobham.
Reece James and matchwinner Tammy Abraham were the stars as Chelsea’s youngsters outshone many of their senior players in the 1-0 win at BarnsleyCredit: PA:Press Association
James slotted the ball across for Abraham to ruin the Tykes’ nightCredit: Getty Images – Getty
The same academy that produced John Terry is now the one bringing through players who have become crucial to the Chelsea first team.
First under Frank Lampard in the last couple of seasons and now under new boss Thomas Tuchel as well.
The Blues have invested heavily in new signings over the last few years, but a few of them didn’t show up at all at Oakwell.
Hakim Ziyech and Christian Pulisic were particularly poor and didn’t stand up to be counted when they were needed.
Barnsley pressed high throughout and gave Chelsea zero time on the ball. In fact, the Tykes were very unlucky to lose the match.
The home side’s tactics gave Chelsea some major problems, above all Ziyech and Pulisic failing to deal with Barnsley’s physical and close attentions.
So it was left to the academy lads to stand up and save Chelsea once again, as they have done so on many occasions in the last couple of seasons.
Reece James came on and was absolutely superb on the right. But it was Tammy Abraham who was the star of the show and scored the important winning goal, from a James assist.
Tammy Abraham tucked the clincher on 64 minutes from a Reece James cross, following brilliant work from Billy GilmourCredit: Getty Images – Getty
Academy product Billy Gilmour set up Chelsea’s winner for Tammy AbrahamCredit: Reuters
Thomas Tuchel will have learnt much about Chelsea’s character from their hard-fought 1-0 win at Championship side BarnsleyCredit: Reuters
But not only did he score and play well, Abraham was at the back putting his body on the line late on – he saved a certain goal after heading an effort over the bar while stood on the line defending a corner.
Another Cobham-created player, Faustino Anjori,n came on and helped Chelsea win the match as well with some good touches and physicality.
Billy Gilmour is not a Chelsea product – growing up at Rangers and joining the Blues as a finishing school – but he too was also heavily involved in anything they did good on the night.
This just goes to show that these Chelsea academy players are good enough to mix it with the best, and they will continue to be top class players regardless of who the manager is.
Chelsea were hugely lucky to win the game on the night, but fair play to Tuchel for continuing to show the faith in the youngsters.
They won the game for him at Oakwell.
Chelsea’s stand-in keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga, seen thwarting Callum Brittain, will be delighted with his clean sheet in the FA Cup last-16 victoryCredit: Getty Images – Getty