Arsenal u18s’ title aspirations have been left hanging by a thread as they suffered a 3-1 away defeat against Chelsea on Tuesday afternoon.

Kwame Ampadu fielded the strongest side possible for this fixture, with the exception of eligible over-age goalkeeper Hugo Keto.

Reiss Nelson and Edward Nketiah both started for the u23s against Manchester United on Monday evening whilst Joe Willock, Donyell Malen and Vlad Dragomir were all second-half substitutes at the Emirates.

Arsenal u18s (4-2-3-1): Virginia; Osei-Tutu, Olowu, Medley, T. Bola; McGuane, Dasilva; J. Willock (Fortune, 75′) Nelson, Malen (Dragomir, 46); Nketiah. Unused: Crean (GK), Omole, Gilmour.

The morning kick-off was delayed as Arsenal’s coach broke down en-route and the players started slowly at Cobham too. A win would’ve seen them crowned league champions for the first time in seven years and it seemed as though pressure got to them.

Fullback Cole Dasilva broke the deadlock after good work down the flank by Dujon Sterling. Centre-back Trevoh Chalobah doubled the hosts’ lead with a well-taken headed effort from Mason Mount’s delivery before the interval and Arsenal’s hopes of a comeback were unlikely at the break.

Jody Morris’s side switched formation to cope with Arsenal’s ever-increasing tempo as they looked for a way back into proceedings. Typical then, that Nketiah would score against his former side after excellent work in the build-up by Joe Willock.

Dragomir came close, Nketiah scored in an offside position but for their efforts, Chelsea snatched all three points in a crucial fixture when substitute Martell Tyler-Crossdale struck after patient play by Iké Ugbo, to net his 21st goal of the season.

Arsenal host West Ham on Saturday but if Chelsea beat Reading on Friday afternoon, the west Londoners will be champions again.