Jody Morris’ Chelsea Under-18s side look set to lift a fifth consecutive FA Youth Cup title, after a 3-1 victory over Arsenal in the first leg of the final at Stamford Bridge.
The Blues went a goal down through Xavier Amaechi’s first half lob, but a brace after half time from substitute Daishawn Redan and defender Marc Guehi’s header have given The Blues a two-goal advantage going into the second leg.
It is The Blues’ seventh consecutive final in this competition and they have lifted the trophy in all of the past four campaigns.
Callum Hudson-Odoi, who was one of two players in the under-18’s side to have played for Antonio Conte’s first team, came close to putting The Blues ahead inside the opening five minutes. A mistake from the Arsenal defence led a pacey counter attack from Chelsea. George McEachran’s cross found Hudson-Odoi, whose header at the back post was blocked off the line.
The hosts’ attack was spearheaded by lone striker, Charlie Brown, who had two superb chances to give Morris’ side the lead in the opening half an hour, but he was unable to steer either of his attempts on target. Tariq Uwakwe and captain Reece James also came close for Chelsea inside the opening half an hour, neither of whom were able to beat Arsenal goalkeeper Joao Virginia with their efforts.
Hudson-Odoi, who made his senior debut for The Blues in January, showed all evening that he really does have a chance of becoming a first team regular. In the 33rd minute, the winger fired a driven free-kick around the Arsenal wall, forcing a spectacular save out of Virginia.
Against the run of play, Arsenal took the lead before the interval after Amaechi dinked the ball over Blues keeper Jamie Cumming and in via the post.
Chelsea levelled the game in the final 25 minutes through substitute Daishawn Redan, who was put clear through on goal by McEachran and raced towards Virginia before beating him with a powerful strike.
Within 11 minutes of levelling, Morris’ side took the lead through centre-back Guehi, who headed in a cross from defensive partner and skipper James.
Redan got his second in the final moments of the match. Former Blue Zach Medley was unable to deal with Juan Castillo’s cross and Redan was positioned perfectly to fire home a half-volley to seal victory for Chelsea.
The second leg will take place at the Emirates Stadium on Monday 30 April, kicking-off at 7:45pm.