We’ve got a mountain to climb, but we could end our nine-year wait to win the FA Youth Cup when we host Chelsea Under-18s at Emirates Stadium on Monday night.
THE STORY SO FAR
We’ve had to wait 3,261 days for another chance to lift the FA Youth Cup - but we’ve got it all to do tonight if we are to lift the trophy for the first time since 2009.
It certainly won’t be easy. We were beaten 3-1 by Chelsea in the first leg of the final. Things started pretty well on Friday night - Xavier Amaechi gave us a first-half lead with his fifth goal in the competition this season - but Jody Morris’ side came roaring back after the break, scoring three times to ensure we’ll go into Monday’s return match as outsiders.
But the class of 2018 are used to overcoming adversity. Against Liverpool at Anfield in round four, Kwame Ampadu’s team were five minutes from being knocked out. But then Bukayo Saka took the game to extra-time and Tyreece John-Jules completed the turnaround in the first period of the extra half hour. They’ll need to show plenty more of that fighting spirit and never-say-die attitude in order to be successful on Monday.
It’s been another trophy-laden season for a Chelsea setup who have dominated English youth football during the 2010s. Under-18 Premier League champions again, the Blues are aiming to win this competition for the fifth successive year, and the sixth year out of the last seven. Morris’ team have scored 29 goals in just seven FA Youth Cup matches, averaging more than four goals a game. Amaechi’s goal on Friday was the first they’ve conceded in the Youth Cup this year. Daishawn Redan came off the bench to score twice on Friday, though the most dangerous threat is likely to come from Youth Cup joint-top scorer Callum Hudson-Odoi, who has eight goals to his name in this competition alone.
ONE TO WATCH
It’s been a season to remember for Emile Smith Rowe. Having signed professional terms on his 17th birthday last July, the midfielder has gone on to impress both at under-18 and under-23 level in 2017/18. Part of the England Under-17 side that won the World Cup in October, Smith Rowe has taken this competition by storm, scoring four times en route to the final. The teenager set up Amaechi’s opener on Friday evening and is sure to play a key part if we are to turn the tie around on Monday.
FOLLOW THE ACTION
You can watch the game LIVE on Arsenal.com. The game kicks off at 7.45pm, and we’ll also be providing updates on our Twitter account, @Arsenal.
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