Solskjaer hails 'exciting' Chelsea squad ahead of EFL Cup tie

By Sports Desk October 29, 2019

Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has praised Frank Lampard ahead of Wednesday's EFL Cup last-16 tie for building an "exciting" squad at Chelsea.

Solskjaer and Lampard have placed their faith in youth during their first full campaigns at their respective clubs, fielding two of the youngest average line-ups in the Premier League.

Academy products Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount, Reece James, Fikayo Tomori, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Billy Gilmour have all been used by Chelsea, who have won seven matches on the spin in all competitions.

The Blues' form over the past month is a far cry from their inconsistent start to the campaign when winning only one of their opening five matches, including a heavy 4-0 loss at Old Trafford in their Premier League opener.

But ahead of United's trip to Stamford Bridge, Solskjaer admitted the scoreline in August's match flattered his side and is expecting a different type of contest in west London.

"Frank has done a good job. Their performance against us was good, the result was bad. We hold our hands up and say that the result was flattering," he told reporters.

"They pressed us but we scored two goals in a minute to decide the game. We didn't think we were four goals better. It is going to be an interesting game.

"They've got a very exciting team. Frank has players who have been on loan one or two seasons in the Championship. 

"The difference with my youngsters is they're stepping straight onto the scene. Axel [Tuanzebe] has been out on loan and is feeling the benefits. Chelsea are a mature young team."

Not helped by injuries to the likes of Paul Pogba, Anthony Martial and Luke Shaw, Solskjaer has turned to James Garner, Tahith Chong, Mason Greenwood and Brandon Williams this term.

And on the back of successive away wins over Partizan in the Europa League and Norwich City in the Premier League, the Norwegian lauded his youngsters for stepping up in his time of need.

"The characters will be revealed in tough times," he said. "I couldn't give them any more responsibility and I couldn't be happier with them. 

"We know it's been tough and we know we've asked a lot of them because of injuries to Paul, Luke, Anthony and the others. 

"For us the youngsters have stepped up in a difficult period and in the end they'll be stronger for it."

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