Arsenal’s u21s are set to face Chelsea at the Emirates Stadium in their EFL Trophy last-16 clash in early January.
The Arsenal website has seemingly confirmed plans to play the youth clash at the Emirates, with Tuesday, January 11th at 19:00 GMT scheduled on the club website.
The date makes sense, as the two first-team games on either side are away to Nottingham Forest and away to Liverpool. So the stadium won’t be needed for senior fixtures.
As a result, the u23 game against Brighton also appears to have been moved from January 10th to January 7th. That match (away at The Amex Elite Football Performance Centre in Brighton) will be Arsenal’s first after the academy winter break.
The EFL Trophy contains a mixture of senior teams from the English lower leagues, and u21 teams from the country’s top academies.
To put it politely, the u21 teams have not performed very well in the competition recently. In the last three seasons, there have been just two u21 quarter-finalists, and they both lost.
So it’s noteworthy that we’re now guaranteed an u21 quarter-finalist again this year, after the Arsenal u21s drew Chelsea’s u21s in this month’s round-of-16 draw.
Arsenal thrashed the Chelsea u23s 6-1 away earlier this season. They should go into the tie with confidence, ideally in front of a strong Emirates crowd.