Chelsea boss Frank Lampard knew he had a golden chance to blood some youngsters with a League Cup visit from League Two side Grimsby Town on Wednesday.
The Blues players then turned the blooding into a bloodletting, scoring seven times in a blowout defeat of the Mariners at Stamford Bridge.
“Billy Gilmour superb, Marc Guehi solid,” Lampard said of two of his youngsters, via Football.London. “Now it’s about where they go with this. It says a lot about the academy, the chance to mix the team was something that I had to take up. It says that we have good young players, but now it’s about confidence and their levels. I wasn’t happy at half-time, the goal was a disaster, I showed them a video of the danger, and that could cost you.”
Guehi was dragged out of position in the concession, a Chelsea specialty this year as the Blues have struggled to keep clean sheets, but was otherwise solid (and Marcos Alonso did just as poorly on the goal).
In addition to Guehi and Gilmour starting, Reece James and Callum Hudson-Odoi scored pretty goals. Seventeen-year-olds Faustino Anjorin and Ian Maatsen debuted for Frank Lampard, and fellow young bucks Mason Mount and Fikayo Tomori didn’t even have to dress.
Heck, Christian Pulisic was almost an elder statesman (The American had an assist on the night).
After a pair of second half subs took out Pedro and Alonso, the Blues’ XI average age would’ve been under the American drinking age were it not for Wily Caballero.
Lampard was especially happy for Hudson-Odoi, who scored in his first senior appearance since a long-term injury and new contract:
“I think he is going to be a big player for this club,” Lampard said. “If he shows his real qualities. To get Callum signed up is good. First half not so sure, in the second half it was in better positions. It was about getting behind people, that’s what it’s about.”
Chelsea has a forgiving run of fixtures ahead, and Lampard’s challenge will be finding the right mix and the right amount of playing time. If he does that, the Blues will likely be in very good shape for a Top Four battle in the second half of the season.