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

Petr Čech in goal, Danny Drinkwater trying to break legs, plus some of the best youth products in England? Count me in.

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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