Manchester City understand what they need to do in order to lift the FA Youth Cup – according to both the coach and the captain.
City head into Wednesday’s second leg at Stamford Bridge on level terms with current holders Chelsea after Phil Foden’s equaliser following Ike Ugbo’s strike on Tuesday night.
This is the third consecutive final between City and Chelsea – with the Londoners’ increased physicality playing a major role as they came out on top in both 2015 and 2016.
Boss Lee Carsley elected for a slightly more combative side than usual at the Academy Stadium with both Matt Smith and Jacob Davenport starting in midfield and Sadou Diallo playing at centre-back. Carsley believes he has learned a lot from that tie ahead of the return leg.
He said: “We felt that against Arsenal in our last game we lacked that little bit of physicality and we knew that Chelsea are a team full of big, strong players. One of the big plusses of Tuesday night was Sadou playing in an unfamiliar position but he was very important for us.
“We’ve had a couple of down days to let the lads reflect on what they could do better. We’ve watched the game back to see our game plan from last week and we know what we need to work on. We’ll be ready for Wednesday night.”
City were also given the opportunity to star on their biggest stage of the season with a bumper Academy Stadium crowd in attendance and many more watching on ITV4.
“It’s great for the players to know that the fans are fully behind them. You heard the noise when we got the equaliser and everyone in the crowd sensed that we might get another. It wasn’t to be but we’ll hope to see fans at Stamford Bridge as well.”
Stand-in captain Ed Francis insists he and his teammates warmed to the challenge presented by Chelsea throughout the first leg and will be ready come kick-off on Wednesday night.
“The second half has given us the belief and the courage to take into the second leg and we believe we can get the better of this Chelsea side and win it now,” said Francis, who is wearing the armband in the absence of the injured Joel Latibeaudiere.
“It would be a massive achievement for all of us to lift the trophy and it was one of the goals we set at the start of the season. It would be the cherry on the cake to have the captain’s armband on for it as well but it would be huge for all of us to lift the trophy.”