Pre-Match Report

Youth Cup: Chelsea v Arsenal - Preview

It's semi-final week at Arsenal Football Club. Of course, the main focus will be on Wembley this Saturday as the first team embark on a season-defining game against Wigan Athletic.

But before that, Arsenal Under-18s make the short trip to Stamford Bridge for the first leg of their last-four showdown with Chelsea in the FA Youth Cup.

This year's run in the prestigious competition has been Arsenal's best since the side starring Jack Wilshere went all the way in 2009.

"If you look at the 2009 team that won it, they still talk about it, so it will stay with you for the rest of your career"

Josh Vickers

But on Thursday the young Gunners come up against a club who have reached three finals in the last four years, winning it twice. The Blues may start as slight favourites but goalkeeper Josh Vickers believes home advantage in the second leg could prove to be vital.

"We will obviously go out to win in the first leg but if we do go behind or get a draw we know we’ve got the home support back at the Emirates," Vickers told

"I think it’s an advantage that we’ve got the second leg at home. If we can keep ourselves in the game at Stamford Bridge then we’ll be confident of getting through.

"We’re really looking forward to it. I’m hoping there will be a big crowd in both games. This age group has had a big rivalry with Chelsea ever since we were in the under-8s or under-9s so a lot of their team have been there for a long time and a lot of our team have been here for a long time."

Judging by performances alone, there is no doubting how much this competition means to Arsenal's latest batch of talented youngsters. The Gunners have won convincingly in three of their four ties and, according to Vickers, their battling win over Charlton in the last 16 proved they can do it the hard way.


"We’ve had different places to go," the 18-year-old said. "We started off with Torquay and we won 5-0, and we had to go away to Peterborough on a tough pitch but there was some excellent individual performances.

"Charlton was a different type of performance. We had to battle for it and Charlton moved the ball quickly from back to front. The last round at the Emirates was a bit more about our attacking performance and we managed to get through.

"Winning the Youth Cup will be massive," he added. "It will be something that will stay on your personal record for life. If you look at the 2009 team that won it, they still talk about it, so it will stay with you for the rest of your career."

Tickets for the first leg at Stamford Bridge are still available, priced at £4 adults and £2 concessions.

We will have live tweets from Thursday's game at Stamford Bridge, kick-off 7.05pm (UK time). 

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