The Arsenal u21s will face off against the Chelsea u21s in the next round of the EFL Trophy, as the only u21 teams in the competition.
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 week’s round-of-16 draw.
Arsenal will be at home, and the match will take place in the week commencing January 3rd.
There’s no confirmation on the venue just yet, and there’s not much of a precedent to try and predict where the game will be played.
Of Arsenal’s 15 matches in the EFL Trophy so far (since their first appearance in 2018/19), all 15 have been away from home.
The group stage matches are always away to the senior team, and the knockout matches against Portsmouth, Wimbledon, and Ipswich Town were all away because the Arsenal u21s finished second in their group, guaranteeing an away draw.
For what it’s worth, Chelsea played their 2018 EFL Trophy quarter-final and 2019 round-of-16 match at Stamford Bridge. So perhaps an Emirates Stadium clash is possible.
It will likely depend on the senior team’s draws in the cup competitions.
Arsenal could have a League Cup semi-final and an FA Cup third-round match that week. If both are at home, that effectively rules out playing the EFL Trophy game at the Emirates.
The good news is that Arsenal thrashed the Chelsea u23s 6-1 away earlier this season. They should go into the tie with confidence, wherever it’s played.