Manchester City face Chelsea in the second leg of the FA Youth Cup final on Wednesday night. Club journalist Jack Mumford looks ahead to the match.
One thing became immediately apparent as both teams walked on to the Academy Stadium pitch ahead of last Tuesday’s first leg; Chelsea are the bigger side.
It’s nothing new for City to face an imposing side but it’s rarely added to the obvious talent of these Chelsea youngsters. It took Lee Carsley’s side a little while to adjust to their opponents and understand the speed of play required in order to get around the Londoners.
The combative nature of the likes of Jacob Davenport and Matt Smith means City are unlikely to be outfought but they will have to ensure they are alert from Wednesday’s first whistle if it is to be a successful night.
City had much more of the ball in the second half and that allowed Phil Foden to control the match.
He was then given the chance to show his pedigree when Jadon Sancho supplied him with the ball to drive towards goal and fire coolly into the bottom corner.
It demonstrated everything that has made Foden one of City’s most celebrated prospects throughout the season and whether it’s scoring or creating the chances, he could be the difference.
Who partners Francis?
Sadou Diallo, normally a defensive midfielder, started the first leg at centre-back and Lee Carsley was impressed with how he performed but will he stick or twist?
Joe Coveney, a natural centre-back, had been the regular partner for Francis before the final and may yet be recalled.
Due to the attacking full-backs, City’s central defenders must be agile and ready to defend in one-on-one situations should Chelsea break forward.
As you may well be aware, this is the third consecutive FA Youth Cup final between City and Chelsea.
On both of the previous occasions, City hosted the first leg before travelling to Stamford Bridge for the second leg. Already 3-1 down, City lost the 2015 second leg 2-1 before a 1-1 first leg draw was followed up by a 3-1 loss 12 months ago.
Having failed to get the result they wanted in London in the last two finals, will it be third time lucky for Manchester City in Carsley’s first campaign as boss?
Keep up with the FA Youth Cup final and all the latest EDS and academy news by following @ManCityAcademy on Twitter.