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Wednesday 14 May 2014

BU21PL profile: Table-topping Blues set sights on title triumph

A profile of Chelsea's Elite Development Squad ahead of Wednesday's final v Man United

  • Lewis Baker is a two-footed, creative midfielder with a knack for spectacular goals

  • One of John Swift's nine Barclays U21 Premier League goals came against Man City

  • Andreas Christensen shadows Hector Bellerin during Chelsea's recent 2-1 win at Arsenal

  • Under-21 manager Dermot Drummy has been coaching at Chelsea since 2007

Chelsea

Ahead of the Barclays Under-21 Premier League final between Manchester United and Chelsea at Old Trafford on Wednesday evening, chelseafc.com gives a run-down of Dermot Drummy's team who topped the table in the regular season.

BU21PL leading scorers
11 Lewis Baker
9 John Swift
8 Isaiah Brown

BU21PL leading appearances
22 John Swift
21 Lewis Baker
20 Andreas Christensen, Islam Feruz
18 Isaiah Brown

Barclays Under-21 Premier League play-off semi-final result
Manchester City (Ntcham) 1-1 Chelsea (Feruz)*
*Chelsea won on penalty shoot-out

Usual formation
4-3-3.

Usual style of play
Chelsea's younger sides play in a similar style to the first team, with possession football central to the ethos of the Academy. Dermot Drummy's side tend to begin in a 4-3-3 with the three midfielders interchanging positions regularly, while pace and creativity from the flanks are in no short supply.

Team's strengths
On the ball there must be few more aesthetically pleasing young teams around. This Chelsea side have scored plenty of goals this season, many of which would make a fine advertisement for the game. A significant proportion of this side have come through the Academy ranks together and have benefitted from the experience of going far in the FA Youth Cup, the NextGen Series and UEFA Youth League competitions.

Chelsea Under-21s manager: Dermot Drummy
Drummy has been at Chelsea since 2007, originally joining to coach the Under-16 team before, in 2009, taking charge of the Under-18s, whom he led to the FA Youth Cup a year later, and then the reserves (later the Under-21s) in 2011. Prior to that, Dermot coached at Arsenal, where he had been a young professional before a playing career that also took in Blackpool and several non-league teams, re-joining the Gunners' backroom staff under Liam Brady after hanging up his boots.

Three key players

Lewis Baker (19, midfielder)
Captain of the side, Baker joined as an Under-10 and made his first-team debut as a substitute against Derby County in the FA Cup in January. The 19-year-old is a two-footed and creative, technical midfielder who has a penchant for spectacular goals. Most recently his back-heeled effort against Arsenal at Emirates Stadium helped his side finish top of the Barclays Under-21 Premier League table. He is an England Under-19 international and was a part of the 2012 FA Youth Cup-winning team.

John Swift (18, midfielder)
John has been at Chelsea since he was an Under-14 player and is a hard-working, box-to-box midfielder. This season he has added more goals to his game, contributing nine in 21 Barclays Under-21 Premier League appearances, and earning the distinction of being the only ever-present in the side. Like Baker, Swift is an England Under-19 international, was part of the 2012 FA Youth Cup-winning team and made his first-team debut as a late substitute in Chelsea's final-day 2-1 victory over Cardiff City last weekend.

Andreas Christensen (18, defender)
Despite having only just turned 18, this tall, ball-playing centre-back has represented Denmark Under-21, having joined Chelsea from Brondby in the summer of 2012 as a first-year scholar. Since then his appearances at the heart of the Chelsea youth and Under-21 teams have been hugely impressive, and he earned a place on the first team's post-season tour to the United States last May.

2013/14 BU21PL match to remember
Bolton Wanderers 0-5 Chelsea (16 Dec). The Blues ended 2013 in style thanks to an Izzy Brown hat-trick sandwiched between two thunderbolts from Baker and Swift, and completed a sequence of three wins that had yielded 14 goals and none conceded. In a free-flowing and clinical performance, Baker got things under way with a stunning long-range effort, while Brown added a second on the half-hour with a powerful finish. He added two more tidy strikes soon after the break, with the icing on the cake supplied by the excellent Swift in injury time.

"It was a pleasure to watch, not only the football attacking-wise but the desire to run and track and do all parts of the game," said Drummy. "Both teams could have scored goals in the first half but as we kept the ball they tired and we controlled it after the break.

"The goals were fantastic but it's another clean sheet as well. We defended as a team from front to back and that's great to see. We've had a great half of the season and days like this are a pleasure to come away from. We have got to push on and try and win things, so let's see where we go."

Players to have featured for first team this season
Lewis Baker
Tomas Kalas
Marco van Ginkel
Nathan Ake
John Swift

Match details
Tickets for Wednesday night's match at Old Trafford are free. All supporters can gain free access to the game by texting UNDER21 FINAL to 60777. The match is also being broadcast live on Sky Sports 1.

Previous BU21PL meeting this season
21 Mar 2014
Manchester United 0-0 Chelsea

Final Barclays Under-21 Premier League table (top)

  P W D L GD PTS
Chelsea 21 13 5 3 23 44
Liverpool 21 13 3 5 25 42
Man United 21 11 6 4 16 39
Man City 21 12 2 7 22 38


Find out the full Barclays U21 Premier League fixture list here and view the table here.

You can follow developments on Twitter with the Premier League's account @premierleague or via the hashtag #BU21PL

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Key Points

  • Barclays Under-21 Premier League semi-finalists Chelsea in profile
  • Dermot Drummy's team take on Manchester United at Old Trafford on Wednesday night
  • Entry for match is free and being broadcast live on Sky Sports 1