Facing Chelsea starlets, a Bayern Munich-wanted winger, Arsenal's club captain and beating Sunderland at Wembley - the story since Portsmouth's last EFL Trophy defeat

Reigning champions, another final to be arranged and now 1003 days unbeaten.

Wednesday, 7th October 2020, 5:30 pm
Brett Pitman scored in Pompey's 2-1 loss to Chelsea in the EFL Trophy - their last loss in the competition on January 8, 2018
Brett Pitman scored in Pompey's 2-1 loss to Chelsea in the EFL Trophy - their last loss in the competition on January 8, 2018

But the Blues’ record in the competition under Kenny Jackett is impeccable nonetheless.

Pompey’s 3-0 victory over Southend on Tuesday night continued their remarkable form in a tournament much-maligned by the majority of the Fratton faithful.

During his time in the PO4 driving seat, Jackett has taken charge of 22 EFL Trophy matches.

The triumph over the Shrimpers was the 19th in total, while there have been two draws and a solitary loss - a win ratio of 86 per cent.

The only reverse Pompey have suffered under Jackett in the tournament came all the way back on January 9, 2018. The Blues were beaten 2-1 by Chelsea under-21s, with Ben Close the only starter who remains at PO4. Alex Bass, who was on the bench, is the other survivor from the match-day squad.

At the time, little did we know how far some in the Chelsea ranks would progress.

Callum Hudson-Odoi has since become an England international and been wanted by Bayern Munich since playing Pompey in the EFL Trophy. Picture: Joe Pepler

Callum Hudson-Odoi started the game on the left-flank for the visitors. He’s since become a prominent first-team player at Stamford Bridge, earned full England international honours and been heavily chased by German giants Bayern Munich.

Meanwhile, Ethan Ampadu featured in central defence. He’s currently on loan at Sheffield United and is a regular starter for Wales.

Next to Ampadu in the rearguard was Trevoh Chalobah, who joined Ligue 1 outfit Lorient earlier this summer, after a spell with Huddersfield last season.

Charly Musonda was Chelsea’s two-goal hero, netting a 96th-minute free-kick to take the Londoners into the next round. The Belgian’s career has stagnated somewhat and is now on loan at Dutch side Vitesse Arnhem, having previously been at Real Betis and Celtic. However, he's someone with an abundance of talent on his day.

Former France international Laurent Koscielny featured for Arsenal under-21s against Pompey in December 2018. Picture: Alex Burstow/Getty Images

In their subsequent 16 matches since that Chelsea loss, there have been both upcoming stars and veteran internationals put to the sword by Pompey.

On the way to winning the competition in 2018-19, the Blues beat Tottenham under-21s 3-2 in the group stages, with a 17-year-old Troy Parrott coming off the bench for the away side. Parrott has since penned a long-term deal with Spurs and become a senior Republic of Ireland international.

Perhaps the most surprising player – and most high-profile when a match came around – Pompey faced arrived in the next round.

Arsenal under-21s visited PO4 although there was a recognised senior international joining the youngsters on the south coast.

Pompey toast their EFL Trophy triumph at Wembley in March 2019. Picture: Joe Pepler

Gunners club captain and France’s Laurent Koscielny was making his comeback from injury and featured - at the age of 33.

That didn't mater, though as the Blues clinched a 2-1 win. Scoring for Arsenal was Bukayo Saka, who is the latest toast of the Premier League and been called up to Gareth Southgate’s England squad for the current international break.

In the three years since Pompey's last EFL Trophy loss, the apogee was undoubtedly the triumph over Sunderland in the final in March 2019.

More than 85,000 were inside a sold-out Wembley for the clash between the two League One heavyweights. In truth, it was the final the EFL could only have dreamed off at the beginning of the campaign.

The game itself also proved full value for entertainment, with the Blues triumphing on penalties after a 2-2 draw.

Pompey have the opportunity to become the first club in the competition's history to defend their crown, with last season’s final against Salfrod still to be arranged after being postponed amid the coronavirus crisis.

More than 50,000 members of the Fratton faithful snapped up tickets, meaning the EFL are delaying the meeting until spectators can return to stadia.

Having qualified for the knockout stages of the EFL Trophy at Southend with a match to spare, it now means Pompey are four more wins away from potentially a third successive final.

Make no bones about it, winning League One promotion this season is above everything else.

But given the Blues’ dominance of the EFL Trophy in recent years, you could hardly bet against their unbeaten streak continuing all the way to another Wembley appearance.