In a fixture that has seen many close games full of good football, controversial decisions and something at stake, Alex Inglethorpe’s Liverpool Under 21s travel to Aldershot Town where the Reds face Chelsea Under 21s. Top of the table Liverpool have not been in the greatest of form as of late, drawing at home to Norwich and more recently losing away to Fulham so the Merseyside side will have to be in the best of form if they are to consolidate their place at the top of the Barclays Under 21 Premier League. The Blues have also not been in the best run of form picking up a draw away at Manchester United and losing at home to German side Schalke. Chelsea are not that far behind the Reds as well, currently lying fifth in the table, five points behind Liverpool but with two games in hand. This is of course the Valentine’s day fixture that was postponed due to the bad weather, but memorably they did try to move the game to Chelsea’s training ground in Cobham to get the game ahead, but that didn’t work as the game was evidently postponed.
Most of these Chelsea Under 21 players were part of last year’s FA Youth Cup side who beat Liverpool over two legs in the semi final and many of these players for both sides will be expected to play tomorrow at Aldershot.
Below are some key players that may change the game for either side before finally I will leave my personal score prediction on the game. Firstly, the Liverpool side. Two players from each side will be mentioned mainly to avoid a very long article that has the danger of becoming mundane.
Joao Carlos Teixeira
The first player that may influence the game tomorrow will be Joao Teixeira. Although he hasn’t been in and around the Under 21s squad as of late, the Portuguese playmaker has had the experience of playing with the likes of Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez in the first team. The 20 year old proved that he can play at the highest level having made his debut away at Fulham when the game was 2-2 and helped his team pick up a vital 3-2 victory.
Teixeira hasn’t scored in a while but has scored 5 goals for Alex Inglethorpe’s side and will be key if the Reds are to get something out of this big game tomorrow.
17 year old Jordan Rossiter is another key player that will have a big say in the game tomorrow. Rossiter has had an incredible year at Kirkby this season, being a regular in the Under 21s side and even making substitute appearances for the first team in games against Chelsea and Hull. Rossiter is a mature midfielder who will add reassurance in his more defensive position but has more recently been getting forward and adding goals to his game as well, scoring 4 goals this season. Like Teixiera, Rossiter will be important and can help whether Liverpool keeps a clean sheet or not.
Other notable exceptions for Liverpool would be the exciting Cameron Brannagan in the number 10 role and of course the young, quick left back Brad Smith, who has been highly impressive in recent games down the left wing.
Next, the two Chelsea players that will be key in the game.
Having played for England at Under 16 and Under 17 level, promising youngster Isaiah Brown has been highly rated by many and that was what sealed his switch to the Blues this season. Brown is a very exciting number 10 and it will be interesting to see how he performs compared to his opposite number Cameron Brannagan and how he deals against Lloyd Jones and Rafa Paez in the Liverpool defence. Also, he can link up with fellow players Ruben Loftus-Cheek , Islam Feruz and Alex Kiwomya.
Having joined from Dutch side Feyenoord in the summer of 2011, Nathan Ake is the next player that can make all the difference tomorrow night. Ake like Teixeira and Rossiter of Liverpool has pushed into the first team this season but unlike those two, he has World Cup experience competing for the Netherlands in the Under 17 World Cup. Primarily a defender, Ake can also play as a defensive midfielder, but many Liverpool fans will remember Ake after he scored a decisive goal in the FA Youth Cup last season to sink Liverpool fans’ hearts.
So, they are the key players that may change the game and if you have suggestions on any more players that should be included, then don’t be shy to leave your comments below. For more Liverpool FC Academy news then be sure to keep an eye out on the blog and finally for day-to-day updates of all things Liverpool FC, then be sure to follow me on Twitter (@ScottTaylorUK).