Chelsea has been facing a downhill experience in their recent games. just last week they lost to Barcelona in a demeaning 3:0 game and was knocked out of the Champions League last 16 qualifiers alongside Manchester United and just today (Saturday), they have lost yet another game to Arsenal in a defeating 3:1 at full-time.
It was derby defeat for our development squad in snowy St Albans as our winning run in Premier League 2 came to an end.
Kyle Scott had fired Joe Edwards’s side into the lead after 15 minutes but the home side responded swiftly to hold a 2-1 advantage at the break following goals from Eddie Nketiah and Tyreece John-Jules. The Blues had opportunities to score again but were wasteful in front of goal and were made to pay in the second half as Reiss Nelson completed the scoring to give the Gunners all three points.
Edwards made four changes from our win at West Ham last time out, with the Academy juggling this trip to St Albans with an Under-18 Premier League Cup final this weekend.
Reece James and Josh Grant returned to the defence following their involvement in our midweek UEFA Youth League victory over Real Madrid, while Jacob Maddox and Daishawn Redan came into the side further forward.
Redan led the line in attack supported by an attacking midfield trio of Harvey St Clair, Kyle Scott and Maddox, while captain Ruben Sammut was joined by Charlie Colkett in central midfield. The defence lined up from right to left with Dujon Sterling, Joseph Colley, James and Grant protecting Marcin Bulka in goal.
The Gunners snatched a point when these sides last met at Aldershot back in October with a 90th-minute equaliser and were seeking a win that would take them a point behind league leaders Leicester City with a game in hand, though it was the visitors who started brightest on a freezing cold afternoon at London Colney.
Redan was a constant early threat in behind and the Dutch striker was set clear by Scott after a turnover in midfield, though Konstantinos Mavropanos, the Greek defender signed in January, recovered well to make a crucial sliding challenge.
Colkett then forced the first save of the game with a right-footed strike that was pushed behind by Deyan Iliev, the Macedonian goalkeeper flying to his left to make the save. Arsenal tested Bulka with a low shot from Nelson but it was the Blues who established an early advantage in the contest.
A persistent pressing game from the front paid dividends as Scott dispossessed Joshua Da Silva before advancing to slot the ball into the back of the net for his first goal of the season.
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Within five minutes, Edwards’s side fashioned another opportunity to score as we won the ball back on halfway again and Sammut slid a perfect pass forward for Redan, though the 17-year-old fired straight at Iliev and Scott’s effort on the rebound was cleared from near the goal-line.
That moments proved significant as the hosts grew stronger, threatening with a string of set-pieces before restoring parity after 20 minutes. A corner from the left was kept alive and striker Nketiah lashed the loose ball beyond Bulka from five yards out.
Arsenal’s number nine went close again moments later, though his left-footed effort was aimed straight at our keeper, before Sterling had a shot from the edge of the box blocked bravely down the other end.
The game’s third goal arrived just after the half-hour mark in somewhat confusing circumstances. Another scramble in our 18-yard box caused problems and the ball eventually fell into the path of John-Jules, whose neat back-flick deceived Bulka and trickled into the corner.
The linesman’s raised flag initially ruled it out but, following a consultation between the officials, the goal was allowed to stand after Scott was deemed to have provided the final touch back towards his own goal.
Steve Gatting’s side ended the half in the ascendancy and restarted with continued purpose as Nketiah found space in the box but saw his strike at goal deflected over the bar. Jordi Osei-Tutu then sliced well wide from a promising shooting position before Redan’s pace and direct running helped him find another inviting chance to get on the scoresheet.
A forward pass from Grant encouraged him to take on former Blues defender Zech Medley, who he beat across the ground before toe-poking narrowly beyond the far post.
Colkett then stung the palms of Iliev with a drive from 20 yards out that the keeper palmed down into the six-yard box towards the lurking Redan, though the forward failed to hit the target as he stretched to make contact on the rebound. A teasing corner delivered from the left by St Clair was spurned by those trying to get on the end of it and the Blues were finally punished for their missed chances.
A free-kick on the left wing spelt trouble as Nelson stepped up and whipped in a ball with pace that flew straight through bodies in the box and eventually landed in the far corner to make it 3-1. From that point, Arsenal controlled the game and could have added further goals as Bulka saved from Nketiah, John-Jules and Vlad Dragomir.
The defeat ends our winning run of three matches in the league and leaves us sixth in the table. Next up is a trip to St George’s Park to take on Derby County on Saturday 31 March.
– Chelsea FC News.