Match Previews

Chelsea up next in Premier League 2

Albion head to the capital on Friday.

By Matt Bishop • 26 November 2021

By Craig Galloway
Albion could move as high as third with a win in Premier League 2 on Friday.

Albion under-23s travel to Kingsmeadow on Friday night to face Chelsea in Premier League 2, kick off 7pm. 

The match marks the halfway point in the PL2 season, with Andrew Crofts' side currently fifth in the division after Monday's narrow 2-1 defeat to Everton at Goodison Park.

“It was a classic game of two halves against Everton,” said Crofts. “We were disappointed with the first half, going in 2-0 down. It can happen when you’re playing top teams every week but it wasn’t us.

“The lads have been so good for such a good period of time, now and again you might get that but in the second half the lads responded exceptionally well and they came out with intensity and aggression. We could have equalised and even scored a few more goals. That shows the mentality within the group.”

That impressive mentality has been clear to see throughout the first half of the campaign, with Albion coming behind to claim points against the likes of Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur, while they also boast the best defensive record in the league and remain unbeaten at home. 

“To have those records with the amount of games you play and the quality you face shows where the team is at and the belief they’ve got,” said Crofts. “Maybe we could have even had a few more points which is pleasing when we’ve already got a decent return.

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PL2 Highlights: Albion 1 Man City 1

“It’s been a really good effort so far from the whole group, in terms of how we look as a team and what we’ve worked on from pre-season until now. You can really see a team that’s together and enjoying their football. 

“The consistency they’ve shown is sometimes hard to find in a young group but they’ve been excellent. The lads have been an absolute pleasure to work with.

“Of course it’s never going to be perfect but they’re fighting as hard as they can every day to get to where we want to be.

“As staff we just want to keep that going and we want to see as much progression from the players as possible. You want that to be in a team environment, and we want to win as many games and keep performances high, but also just want to get as many individuals ready for their next step which is hopefully the first team.”

Seven of Albion’s under-23s have already made their first-team debuts this season, with Jeremy Sarmiento now a regular member of Graham Potter’s Premier League matchday squads, and that’s something that has delighted Crofts.

By Paul Hazlewood
Jeremy Sarmiento has been named in the last three Premier League matchday squads.

 “A lot of the boys have had first team exposure so from that aspect it’s been a really good effort from the group. Seeing how they have progressed individually as well as in the team is really pleasing.

“There are lots of different aspects that goes into making that happen. The biggest thing is committing to what you want to try and achieve and the consistency of what you do every day. 

“Standards we set as individuals and standards we set as a group are really important to us, and your reactions to whatever happens during a day, a week, a month, a season are vital. 

“They’re not robots, they’re going to make mistakes along the way – they’re all human. But if you do the right things as often as you can, hopefully it helps every player in the group and everyone in the team get to where they want to be next.”

While first team football is the aim, next on the horizon is the clash against Chelsea – Albion’s second game in a week. 

“The squad are really looking forward to it, they’re used to the busy schedule.” said Crofts.

“They’re excited and we’re hoping the second-half performance against Everton can roll into the game. 

“Chelsea is always an exciting game, they have lots of good players and we know it will be a challenge but it’s one we’re looking forward to.”