Under-18s head coach Hassan Sulaiman is looking forward to a run of massive games across several competitions, starting with Saturday’s Premier League Cup quarter-final against Leicester City, which you can watch live on the Official Chelsea App.
The Chelsea Under-18s are in the early stages of a run of massive games. Having booked our place in the fifth round of the FA Youth Cup with a victory at Everton last time out, we now return to Cobham to take on Leicester City in the quarter-finals of the Under-18 Premier League Cup. The match kicks off at midday on Saturday 3 February and will be streamed live on the Official Chelsea App.
With a string of crucial fixtures across cup competitions and the title race coming up soon afterwards in this make-or-break period of the season, the pressure is on, but head coach Hassan Sulaiman believes this will be a great learning experience for his young squad.
‘It’s another good challenge for the boys,’ said Sulaiman. ‘The fact that it’s the knock-out stage, the fact that there’s a little bit more riding on it, just prepares the boys for what becoming a professional footballer will feel like.
‘Those high-pressure moments when you have to perform, when your decision making has to be at its peak, when you can’t afford to have many errors because you’ll be punished. So it just provides a fantastic opportunity for the boys to learn and to grow.
‘Between now and the end of the season, if the boys want to achieve everything that they desire, which is to try and go as far in every competition as possible, then there are no easy games.
‘The other day our Under-17s had a fantastic performance and progressed to the semi-finals of the Premier League Cup. We have another quarter-final on Saturday we want to win to progress to the semi-finals. Then we’ve got the Youth Cup and a chance to progress to the quarter-finals. Then we’ve got two league games back-to-back with West Ham and Tottenham, and we will go top of the league if we win both of those.
‘So there are no easy games. Every game we have a desire to win, every game we have a desire to perform, and if the performance can be at its best then we know the result will take care of itself.’
Saturday’s match will also be against familiar opponents, as we take on Leicester’s Under-18s for the third time in two months, across three different competitions. We have already beaten them in the FA Youth Cup and secured a league draw with a last-minute equaliser in our first match of 2024, both away from home.
However, Sulaiman believes the change of competition, as well as the fact we will be on home soil this time around, means we shouldn’t expect a repeat performance, with fresh challenges and opportunities in this match.
‘Even though we’re playing Leicester for the third time this season, I think regardless of the opposition, the fact that it’s a different competition definitely provides a different stimulus,’ he continued.
‘Knowing the opposition helps, because we’re aware of their strengths when we’re planning and preparing. We have an idea of how they’re likely to play, but naturally when you play a side two or three times they might adapt some of their style or tactics. I’d like to believe that we’ll be prepared for that.
‘But we will do the same. We will adapt, we will change things slightly, because we’d be very predictable if we played in exactly the same way.
‘Being at home will make a massive difference. We’ve had to go there and cope with their staff and fans at their training ground with their facilities. For the first time in these three games we play at our place, so the boys will definitely take confidence from that. There’s always a different feeling when you’re playing at home so undoubtedly it will be a very different game.’
Where to watch the live stream
You can watch our Under-18s’ Premier League Cup fixture against Leicester City live on the Official Chelsea App, complete with enhanced stats and event tracking from MVX, built by Infinite Athlete. It will be available globally and priced at £1.99.