'Afobe a real threat' - Arsenal squeeze past Chelsea in U21 cup match

Chelsea NextGen

Chelsea U21 manager Dermot Drummy pointed to Arsenal starlet Benik Afobe as the difference between the two sides as Chelsea went down 1-0 to Arsenal in the Premier League Under-21 Cup.

Arsenal U21 manager Terry Burton was the happier of the two coaches at the end of a tightly contested cup match between two of the strongest academies in the country.

Arsenal included the likes of Ryo Miyaichi, Gedion Zelalem and Captain Issac Hayden. Whilst Chelsea lined up with former West Brom record breaker Isaiah Brown, Lewis Baker and captain Nathan Ake.

The talent on show promised a spectacle into the future of English football, however, it proved to be more of a battle of wits.

In the first half both sides had promising spells on the ball and created half-chances, but, it was Chelsea's Alex Davey that got the first clear cut chance of the game but blazed over the bar from close range.

Towards the end of the first half, it still proved to be a battle of concentration more than anything else, but both defences held firm and the sides went in goalless at the break.

The second half proved to be just as frustrating for both sides as the first, and both teams worked tirelessly to win the midfield battle and really assert their game plan.

Towards the end of the second half it was Chelsea in the ascendancy and pushing for a winner with Kiwomya, Hayden and Brown all going close.

With little time on the clock it was Arsenal substitute Jon Harper that had the chance to put himself in the spotlight, but lost his composure and dragged a tamely hit effort wide.

In extra time, it was England U21 international Benik Afobe who took advantage of some tired legs and provided the games opening and only goal, roughly 110 minutes after the whistle went to start the game.

German youth international Eisfeld sent a superbly weighted ball over the top, which Afobe was able to connect with and send over the onrushing Chelsea keeper. The Blues pushed hard for an equaliser but with time against them, they could only carve out half-chances and ended the game in defeat.

Talking after the game Chelsea manager Dermot Drummy spoke of his disappointment not to get something out of the game and see his side into the next round, but did praise their work ethic.

'Our work rate and effort was great but perhaps we overplayed it at times on a bad pitch. We've maybe got to learn about that but the boys are learning their game all the time.

'I'm proud of the squad and the way they play but it's just disappointing sometimes when I feel we deserve a bit more but we don't get it on the night'

The 53-year-old pointed to Arsenal striker Benik Afobe as the difference between the sides, claiming that Chelsea controlled the game for long periods but struggled to have his cutting edge.

'Being on top of the game is one thing but converting a goal is another. Arsenal pressed us early and had a real threat in Benik Afobe, who's a more experienced campaigner. He took his goal well but we still got caught on one long ball, which is disappointing'

Afobe returning to form will be news to the ears of Arsenal fans after expecting the worse when he was sidelined for a long period of time through injury.

The 20-year-old could be one of a number of Arsenal players that could be allowed to leave on loan over the next couple of days and performances like this will only attract attention to the starlet.

image: © NextGen Series

Register for ARSENAL team updates

Register for CHELSEA team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch