Chelsea's U-23 Matches Are Becoming Must-Watch Affairs

If you think weeknight drama in the footballing world is usually reserved for Champions League ties and the occasional Premier League match, then you are gravely mistaken. In a year where everything has been turned upside down, the best soccer spectacle is now apparently Monday night Premier League 2 matches.

Where else can you watch Petr Čech play in goal, witness 30-year-old Danny Drinkwater chopping down teenagers and scout some of the best young prospects in England?

Chelsea's under-23 side began Monday with a slim lead at the top of the Premier League 2 (U-23 Premier League) and welcomed Tottenham in a North West London Derby.

The Blues brought out a secret weapon for the derby match, giving Petr Čech his first start since retiring more than 18 months ago.

The 38-year-old was added to Chelsea's 25-man Premier League roster back in October as an insurance policy given the uncertain climate of the COVID-19 pandemic. The veteran keeper was more than 20 years older than some of his teenage teammates but gave up two early goals, giving Spurs a 2-0 halftime lead.

A feisty match saw the referee give 10 cards — eight of them in a tightly contested second half.

Chelsea scored twice to level the score in the early portion of the second session, but it was the 74-minute mark that the match really kicked off.

Spurs midfielder Alfie Devine, a tender 16 years of age, put in a crunching tackle on exiled Chelsea midfielder Danny Drinkwater. The Chelsea man then lashed out by aggressively kicking the Spurs teenager from the ground:

"Ooooh, ello! ..." 

"... And it's all kicking off, here we go."

Drinkwater has not appeared in a Premier League match for the Blues since March 2018, so you can assume that the former $41 million transfer has some pent-up anger.

Both Drinkwater and Devine received red cards, while four others were shown yellow for their involvement in the ensuing fracas. 

Monday's match drew comparisons to a first-team match between the two sides from 2016 that is affectionately known as the "Battle of Stamford Bridge," a contest that saw 12 yellow cards and more than its fair share of physical confrontations after the whistle.

Chelsea earned the win in the 88th minute when substitute Myles Peart-Harris slotted home his second goal of the half, maintaining the Blues' spot at the top of the Premier League 2 table.

While Chelsea's senior side has been on a mediocre run of form lately, its U-23's will provide enough excitement to warm up even the chilliest of London nights. 

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