Chelsea’s Development Squad finished a generally positive week on a disappointing note as they were beaten 2-0 by Leicester City at Holmes Park on Friday night.
Having staged an impressive late comeback to earn a 2-2 draw at home to Manchester United on Friday, there was more excitement for the Under-23 squad 48 hours later in the form of senior debuts under Antonio Conte, but they were unable to pick themselves up to go again here, and fell to defeat courtesy of a George Thomas brace either side of half time.
Joe Edwards shuffled his pack for the second game of the week and welcomed both Ethan Ampadu and Dujon Sterling back into the team after they made their first-team bows at Stamford Bridge against Nottingham Forest on Wednesday night. Ampadu anchored the back three for the first time, flanked by Trevoh Chalobah and Josh Grant, which in turn meant Reece James was deployed in an unfamiliar role at left-wing back. Luke McCormick was pushed further forward in support of Miro Muheim, who once again led the line in attack.
Leicester manager Steve Beaglehole has often used the Premier League 2 to give playing time to several first-team squad players, and continued to do so here, with Ahmed Musa and Yohan Benalouane adding their considerable experience to what was already one of the league’s older squads. Hamza Choudhury captained the Foxes after making his first-team debut against Liverpool on Tuesday.
If Chelsea looked somewhat disjointed on paper, they certainly came across that way when the action got underway. Confident enough in their own half, they struggled to assert themselves in midfield, leaving Muheim far too isolated in attack. McCormick looked to continue his recent good form in front of goal with a timely run to meet James’ in-swinging cross early on, but could only head at Iversen, moments after Marcin Bułka had confidently collected Sam Hughes’ looping header at the other end.
Steady and occasionally heavy rain ensured both goalkeepers would have to be at their best and both James and Josh Gordon before him tried their luck with efforts skidding towards goal off the wet turf, but it was a mistake by one of the more dependable Chelsea players that resulted in the game’s opening goal. Chalobah underhit a routine pass towards Ampadu and allowed Musa to steal in; the Nigerian made his way unchallenged towards goal, and had the presence of mind to wait for Thomas to appear alongside him for a simple finish after drawing Bułka out.
Leicester had been the more assertive and aggressive team and Chelsea, save for Isaac Christie-Davies, lacked the intensity required to match them in the opening forty-five minutes. Muheim worked hard ploughing a lone furrow up front, but was left to fend for himself on scraps for the most part, scuffing wide from the edge of the area in his brightest moment shortly before half time.
He duly made way for Callum Hudson-Odoi ahead of the restart, but despite being quick out of the blocks and threatening early through Maddox, Chelsea still found it hard to find their natural rhythm. They were grateful too for Bułka’s excellence in goal ten minutes too into the second period as he rushed out to make a fine save to prevent Musa from doubling the lead moments later.
Charlie Brown was introduced from the bench to bolster Chelsea’s attacking options shortly after Christie-Davies had missed the target from the edge of the area, but just as the visitors began to look more purposeful, they found themselves two goals behind. It was the Musa-to-Thomas combination that did for them again, but this time the former Coventry man produced a top-class finish into the top corner that Bułka could only watch fly in.
A late rally meant precious little, and Leicester were scarcely concerned by the handful of moments Chelsea enjoyed, as Edwards’ boys suffered just their second defeat of the campaign. Many of the group will now turn their attentions to the UEFA Youth League trip to Atlético Madrid next week, whilst the Development Squad are next in action after the international break, at home to Swansea on October 10th.
Leicester City: Iversen, Johnson, Pascanu, Hughes, Benalouane, Knight, Dewsbury-Hall (Sheriff 82), Choudhury ©, Musa (Martis 90), Thomas, Gordon (Muskwe 73)
Subs not Used Bramley, Ndukwu
Goals: Thomas ’25, ‘74
Booked: Gordon, Benalouane, Knight
Chelsea: Bułka, James, Chalobah, Ampadu, Grant, Sammut ©, Sterling, Maddox, Muheim (Hudson-Odoi 45), McCormick (Brown 69), Christie-Davies
Subs not Used: Colley, Ja.Russell, C.Dasilva