Chelsea’s youngsters received a lot of deserved praised following their performance against MSK Zilina, even if the club did make hard work of the result. 17-year-old Josh McEachran earned most of the plaudits in the media, but I thought Patrick van Aanholt was also very impressive and deserving of high praise.
Van Aanholt, 20, made his sixth appearance for the first team when he took the field against Slovakian side Zilina in the Champions’ League group stage clash – which saw Chelsea confirm top spot with a 2-1 victory and it was also the young Dutchman’s best showing in blue so far. It was just a shame that his rasping shot in the second half cannoned off the post. His performance would have merited a goal.
It was refreshing for the Stamford Bridge faithful to see a glimpse of the future during times of squad troubles, losses, Wilkins’ dismissal, injuries, suspensions and media claims of uncertainty surrounding Carlo Ancelotti’s position at the club.
Patrick van Aanholt has gained a fair amount of first team football since the beginning of the 2009/10 season after loan periods at both Coventry City and Newcastle United. During both loan spells he impressed and during the summer months after our double winning campaign Ancelotti vowed that a select group of the young players would be making the step up for the following season.
It is perhaps hard to see where exactly van Aanholt will get his chances as he is the understudy to arguably the world’s greatest left-back in Ashley Cole and the versatile Yury Zhirkov, but that is also a huge advantage for the Dutch defender as he could not have a better mentor and Salomon Kalou echoed a similar point after the game against Zilina when he said:
“Ashley [Cole] is one of the best left backs we have in this competition [Champions League], and also in the world. So I think Patrick has a lot to learn from Ashley.”
I’m sure the Chelsea fans will be eager to see the likes of van Aanholt given their chances to impress again and it is likely that they will do against Marseille after already topping their Champions’ League group. Hopefully it will lead to even more first team opportunities for them as they will become more trusted to cover positions (so no more Paulo Ferreira at centre back please, Carlo) and we always have the FA Cup to give them a run out in, if we get a kind draw.
Who impresses you most out of Chelsea’s current crop of young talent?