Youth Cup Preview: Leeds Vs Chelsea Is Old School Vs New School
Leeds United U18s host Chelsea U18s at Elland road tonight in the FA Youth Cup, a competition just as magical and important to young players as the senior tournament is to first teasers.
Leeds United have always been proud of their youth academy as over the years they have produced some of England's top talent. Aaron Lennon, James Milner, Paul Robinson, Scott Carson, Jonathan Woodgate, Alan Smith and more recently Fabian Delph are all products off the Leeds United production line. As the names above suggest, Leeds were particularly successful at youth level during the 1990s and early 2000s and even though they still have plenty of graduates in their current first team, the academy hasn't been as successful in recent years. However, with Leeds' financial struggles, they're thankful that the academy still churns out good players and the quick promotion to first team action may be the reason that youth sides have failed to thrive at their own level.
An academy that has been nothing short of dominant of late is Chelsea's. Chelsea have poured millions into their youth system and bringing in the best teenagers from across the globe. This approach is proving successful at youth level, but not as of yet bearing fruit at senior level. There have been very few graduates in recent years, which is a stark contrast to Leeds. Instead, Chelsea buy proven talent for the first team and send younger players out on loan to partnered clubs in what is a widely frowned upon monopolisation tactic.
Chelsea U18 boss Joe Edwards picks up on the old rivalry between the two sides and says that despite the youngsters' age restricting their own knowledge if the clash, "whatever crowd there is at Elland Road will show it and those are the experiences you want and that only the Youth Cup can bring."
Chelsea go into the match as favourites, but the Leeds home advantage, as Joe Edwards insinuates, is not to be underestimated. The match is live on Chelsea TV and kicks off at 7:05pm.