Chelsea are in the Carabao Cup semi-final.
The Blues already know they face Tottenham and will clash with former boss Antonio Conte three times in January.
They didn’t even need penalties to earn it.
Thomas Tuchel gave Harvey Vale, Jude Soonsup-Bell and Xavier Simons their senior debuts in the clash against Brentford as Chelsea came away 2-0 victors.
Despite dominating possession across the game, the Bees had the better chances in the opening half as the Blues left it late to leave their inprint on the game.
Substitute Reece James made an impact as his cross from the right was put into his own net by Pontus Jansson, and Christian Pulisic came off the bench to earn a penalty which Jorginho easily dispatched.
Why Thomas Tuchel was angry with Cesar Azpilicueta
There are few reasons you can get angry with Cesar Azpilicueta after all he’s done throughout his Chelsea career. The 32-year-old defender has been the king of utility, lifted European trophies and quite frankly been stellar.
All that counted for little in Tuchel’s eyes in one moment.
The Spaniard took a shot on the half-volley which wasn’t particularly close. Very much in the criteria of holding circle too long for a shot on FIFA. Clear-cut chances weren’t coming too frequently in the opening half and it’s safe to say when Tuchel saw the effort, he was exasperated.
Nevertheless, Azpilicueta put in a decent defensive performance and aided Simons well on his debut.
It’s difficult to imagine the excitement and nerves that must be present when you are on the verge of starting your first senior match for any club, never mind one as big as Chelsea, at just 17 or 18.
So Vale, Simons and Soonsup can be forgiven for sticking together at the start of the warm up. The trio knocked the ball around together before joining the rest of the team to start drills on the far side of the pitch.
That’s not to say they were isolated but it was a nice moment for the youngsters.
Azpilicueta ensured he became locked in coversation with Simons ahead of the game too, as they were partnered up on the right, while Trevoh Chalobah made a point to greet the youngsters during the warm-up too.
Harvey Vale’s record
Vale put in a very impressive display during his 65 minutes on the pitch. He was among Chelsea’s most incisive players as he showed his well-versed connection with Soonsup-Bell in the opening half, even though he did miss the Blues’ best chance.
However, simply by stepping onto the pitch Vale set a record.
The 18-year-old is the player to start for Chelsea with the highest shirt number. The youngster donned the No. 68 shirt.
Others have worn higher figures, such as his teammates Charlie Webster and Lewis Hall, who did not make it off the bench, with 71 and 75, respectively.
Callum Hudson-Odoi has even worn the No. 70 shirt, but only had substitute appearances back in 2017/18, as per transfermarkt.
The not so new replaces the There can be no doubting Chelsea’s debutants stood up to their task in difficult circumstances. While they still may be too early in their development to get many more meaningful minutes this season, it’s always exciting to see the latest crop from Cobham. They might even have caught Tuchel’s eye.new
Following the game he said: “They did well. They hadn’t trained for a week because the academy was closed for Covid and then we invited them into training two days ago, so two sessions with us. They listened carefully and did their jobs, they did good.
“Also, full credit to the seven guys they played with. They took care and made sure they did the right stuff and were supportive. Well done to the three guys and well done to the other seven.”
That recognition clearly extended to the rest of the squad and let to a poignant moment as Simons and Vale were replaced by Reece James and Mason Mount.
Every player a product of the Chelsea academy.
The customary high fives and hugs just seemed to linger a little longer as James passed on a few words to Simons in recognition of his performance.
No time for a change of guard yet, but surely an inspiring moment for those from the development squad.