YOUTH CUP: AKE'S HOPE
The Academy returns to FA Youth Cup action on Wednesday evening when they host West Ham United at Staines Town.
First-year scholar Nathan Ake is hoping we can emulate the side of two years ago that lifted the trophy, a feat he has been well reminded of since arriving here in the summer.
The Dutchman has been a regular in Adi Viveash's side this season, quickly adapting after switching Feyenoord for Chelsea, and he has so far enjoyed the intensity of knockout football, sampling wins against Doncaster Rovers and Norwich City in our two previous outings.
'I knew a little bit about the Youth Cup before I came here, I had seen some bits on YouTube and knew we had won it a couple of years ago,' said the defender, who celebrates his 17th birthday on Saturday. 'Obviously it is different from the league. The league is important but if you lose in the Youth Cup you are out, and we know how important it is to the club.
'Things happen in the game that are different, from the first game I knew it was different from what we are used to. The smaller teams make it very difficult in every game, like Doncaster did, and it really means something.'
Ake's development has impressed the staff at Cobham, and he has been able to gain experience from training with the first team group when their numbers have been depleted.
'I've trained with the first team six times and it has been really good, it's great to see the highest level and it's much quicker,' he pointed out. 'It's good to see because you know where you have to go and it helps you learn. I don't think it makes the youth level any easier though, it's just good to have that experience.
'In all I think it has gone very well for me this season, I settled in quite well and it hasn't been too difficult getting used to English football, I think I have an English style and I like everything here.
'With the national team we play a little bit differently, more long balls, whereas Chelsea is short, quick play and I like it a lot.'
The comparison is natural, as Ake has just returned from three Under 17 appearances in the four-team Algarve Tournament, in which he came up against Chelsea team-mates John Swift and Alastair Gordon.
Tomorrow he is likely to face another England youth, West Ham captain Blair Turgott, who has graduated into the international Under 18 setup. The winger was a goalscorer at Cobham in January when we were beaten 3-2 thanks to an injury-time winner.
Ake believes that if we are concentrated we can turn that result around at Staines.
'We played well against West Ham last month, we had some good combinations and goals but we let some silly goals against us. Both teams play football so I think it will be a good game and I think we can get the win.'
Entry to the FA Youth Cup game at Staines Town's Wheatsheaf Park (kick-off 7pm) is £3 for adults and £1 for concessions while Chelsea TV has live coverage from 6.30pm.