Chelsea's teenage sensation Ampadu shows Conte the kids are alright

Ethan Ampadu
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The Blues played a youthful side against the Toffees and they showed that they are all good enough to play at Premier League level on Wednesday

On Tuesday night, Arsenal fans revelled in the fact that their two-goal hero against Norwich - Eddie Nketiah - had been rejected by Chelsea as a schoolboy. Less than 24 hours later, though, the Stamford Bridge faithful were singing the praises of Ethan Ampadu, who could so easily have ended up at the Emirates.

Ampadu is the son of Arsenal Under-18s coach Kwame but when the 17-year-old Exeter native left his hometown club in July, he joined Chelsea - not the side his father had represented in his youth. In Wednesday's League Cup clash with Everton, Ampadu showed that Arsenal's loss is very much Chelsea's gain.

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In just his second appearance for the Blues, Ampadu excelled in midfield alongside Danny Drinkwater, who was belatedly making his debut having been sidelined with a calf problem since joining from Leicester just before the close of the summer transfer window.

The pair's encouraging performances - no Chelsea player regained possession more times than Drinkwater (7) - could not have come at a more opportune time for Blues boss Antonio Conte, in light of N'Golo Kante's injury-enforced absence. Indeed, with youngsters Charly Musonda and Kenedy also all impressing, it was hard to escape the feeling that Chelsea have more strength in depth than their Italian coach is letting on.

Admittedly, Chelsea never found their usual flow against an Everton side who put in a spirited showing under David Unsworth following the dismissal of Ronald Koeman on Monday but they again showed the fighting spirit that characterised Saturday's come-from-behind win over Watford in withstanding a spirited second-half showing from the Toffees.

Ethan Ampadu

Kenedy was wonderfully energetic, making more tackles than any of his team-mates and winning the ball back seven times in total, while Musonda provided a fine assist for the Antonio Rudiger header that opened the scoring.

However, it was Ampadu who really caught the eye. On the night on which he became the first player born in the year 2000 to start for the Blues, he played with a composure and intelligence that belied his tender age.

Conte was impressed as he watched on as the youngster made an impact as he stepped up from the Under 23s to the first team

"Everton is a good team and they have just changed the coach, and usually in this type of situation the players want to try to give more, no?" Conte said at Stamford Bridge. "For this reason this game was very dangerous for us.

"But I’m very happy because tonight I saw a lot of positive things, above all the young players’ performance. I think tonight Charly Musonda and Kenedy and [Ethan] Ampadu, don’t forget he is only 17 years old, I think they played a good game.

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"It’s very important to trust in these players, because I repeat they deserve to have this chance. And tonight I’m very happy because they had a good answer."

Ampadu played a pivotal role in Chelsea reaching the quarter-finals of the League Cup for the first time since 2014-15 and the hope must be that he, along with Musonda and Kenedy, have done enough to convince Conte that, at Chelsea, the kids are alright.

They've proved it in the League Cup. They deserve a chance to do likewise in the Premier League.