Frank Lampard’s side comfortably beat their League Two opponents at Stamford Bridge in the Carabao Cup third round. Two goals from Michy Batshuayi, while Ross Barkley, Pedro from the penalty spot, Kurt Zouma, Reece James and Callum Hudson-Odoi all found the net making the scoreline a resounding 7-1.
Not only was the scoreline flattering as it is Lampard’s first home win as Chelsea head coach, but the players that were on show were the main talking point.
Academy players are given a chance
Lampard fielded an XI which included five academy players where the likes of Billy Gilmour, Reece James, and Marc Guehi were all making their debuts for the club. Also in the second half, Lampard introduced two 17-year-olds from the bench in Faustino Anjorin and Ian Maatsen and they too were making their debuts.
Let’s not mistake the fact that Grimsby Town play in League Two, but with the team that Frank Lampard put out, I wouldn’t recall if previous Chelsea teams with more experience would have come out 7-1 victors. Even though Chelsea scored a staggering seven goals on the night, it was clear that the scoreline could have been more with the quality of opportunities that Chelsea had.
Faith in the youth system restored
As a fan, there have been times where I thought I wouldn’t see times like this. To see the Chelsea academy being used at the club in the 1st team matches is what most Chelsea fans have been dying to see. Of course, we had no choice because of a transfer ban we are currently facing, but it is been a blessing. As a Chelsea fan, we are now seeing these talented players being given opportunities at the club. Not to mention Frank Lampard deserves a lot of credit for sticking to his word from the first moment he walked in the Chelsea managerial office and said he will give youth a chance.
Credit also goes to the club as they finally are looking for the long term and thinking for the future by safeguarding it as well. This is from securing all our promising and most influential players to long term contracts with the likes of Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Callum Hudson-Odoi, and Mason Mount. All capped at England international level and are now big acquisitions at Chelsea football club. Not to mention Tammy Abraham, Fikayo Tomori and Reece James close to signing contract extensions as well.
It is about time we put faith in our academy and build from what the club has in abundance, quality young players. These young players have been winning all the tournaments at youth level, all the cups, and trophies, which already shows some are ready for the first team. There is no question that Chelsea have one of the best, if not the most elite academy across Europe.
Who took their chance?
With Chelsea competing in four major competitions this season, along with having a mixture of old and young players in the squad, places in the starting XI will be limited. The demolishing of Grimsby Town on Tuesday night was an opportunity for some of the young players to express their talent as well as staking their claim to be in Frank Lampard’s regular XI.
Making his first senior appearance for Chelsea, the 19-year-old played alongside Kurt Zouma and the pair formed a strong partnership as the game went on. He was unable to keep a clean sheet, but the Grimsby Town goal was a formidable strike that Guehi could do nothing about. As the game went on, Guehi gained more confidence and looked comfortable on the ball and in one on one defensive situations. He will be hoping that his performance will be enough to keep him in the first-team fold, where Lampard will more than likely use him in the cup competitions to help him gain more experience.
One of the stand out performers of the match with two assists and a goal to his name. He proved why the majority of the Chelsea fans want him as the new right-back this season. He is a versatile player where he can play as a right-back, right wing-back or even in the middle of midfield. But, Lampard has already suggested his best position is at right-back and that he will be a big player for this club.
With two assists from two great crossers, it was his goal that summed up his performance. A fine curling finish into the bottom corner from outside the box showed his ability that he has on the ball. There is no doubt that Reece James is one for the future and could easily make a massive difference in the Chelsea first team this season.
Like James, Billy Gilmour was another standout performer, if not, the man of the match. Playing in a double pivot in midfield with Ross Barkley alongside him, Gilmour ran the game and showed his elegance on the ball. The 18-year-old idolises former Chelsea midfielder Cesc Fabregas and you can see the resemblance to his game.
He is always looking to receive the ball where he thinks about the next pass. A bit like the Jorginho role where his job is to dictate the tempo and provide passes to the attacking three. At the age of 18, it is hard to fault his performance.
The worrying thing is that he is only going to get better and a game like the one on Tuesday will give the Scotsman a lot of confidence. Like Guehi, it is likely Gilmour won’t feature much in the first team, but it is crucial that the midfielder does get a lot of minutes this season after Tuesday’s performance showed the ability that he has and it will help his development.
The player that provided a saga during the summer with the Chelsea fans waiting to see if the attacking winger would sign a contract. The relief to Chelsea fans, as Hudson-Odoi committed his future to the club for another five years.
His performance wasn’t the best, given that he has recently returned from a lengthy spell on the side-lines. In the first half, he struggled to get into the game as he wasn’t attacking the full-backs enough, which is his strong asset. Furthermore, the second half was a different story. He had a lot of chances to score, but he was unlucky from good interceptions and saves from the Grimsby Town goalkeeper.
The iconic moment was at the final minute where he marked his return with Chelsea’s 7th goal. The relief and delight in his celebration showed how much it meant to him. After so many months out, Chelsea fans have been screaming for the 18-year-olds return after his breakthrough season last year, he has already shown he is a vital player for the club.