Our under-18s fell to a 7-1 aggregate defeat in the FA Youth Cup final at Emirates Stadium.
It was always going to be a tough ask against an experienced side who were 3-1 up after the first leg in the hunt for their fifth consecutive title - and it was made that bit harder after just 10 minutes.
Chelsea broke quickly down the left-hand side and when Juan Castillo’s cross was cleared to the edge of the box, Billy Gilmour was waiting to smash the ball past Joao Virginia.
While our keeper was well beaten by that strike, he was more than equal to Castillo’s effort moments later. Unmarked at the far post, Chelsea’s left back rifled a powerful drive towards the bottom corner but Virginia got down quickly to keep him out.
Then it was our turn to attack. Smith Rowe collected the ball just inside the visitors’ half and flighted an inch-perfect pass to Bukayo Saka. The schoolboy forward took it in his path but was unable to generate any power on his shot.
We started the second half with more intent and when Cumming punched Smith Rowe’s free-kick to the edge of the box, Saka sent his half-volley inches wide of the top corner.
But Chelsea came roaring back once more. A slick passing move released Daishwan Redan in the box and, although Virginia got a touch on his cross, Callum Hudson-Odoi was there to coolly finish from 10 yards.
The Blues could have added to their advantage moments later when Redan cleverly spun away from Danny Ballard to find Dujon Sterling, who forced our keeper into another fine stop.
But Virginia couldn’t do anything to keep out their next next two attempts. After Tino Anjorin had finished off a rapid counter-attack, Hudson-Odoi cut in from the left to beat our keeper once more.
Our youngsters will face Chelsea’s under-18s for the third time in just two weeks at Cobham on Wednesday May 9.
However, a number of our starlets will be involved 24 hours earlier, when our under-23s face Porto in the Premier League International Cup final at Emirates Stadium.
Copyright 2023 The Arsenal Football Club Limited. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source.