Callum Hudson-Odoi’s absence from not only the starting lineup but the matchday squad, too, hilariously timed given all the drama regarding his possible move to Bayern Munich, was set to be the biggest talking point from Chelsea’s straightforward victory against Bournemouth last night ... until that expected straightforward victory turned into an historic and baffling collapse in the second half and Chelsea slinked back to London with tails tucked and a (-4) goal differential to drop out of the top four.
Could Hudson-Odoi have made any difference? Perhaps. Chelsea concentrated a lot of the attacking play down the right flank, especially early on, but instead of Hudson-Odoi stretching the play wide, there was Pedro constantly cutting in where it was already extra congested. Azpilicueta gamely got involved, but we’ve learned a long time ago that he’s not exactly an attacking wing-back. Chelsea still should’ve won easily against a team that had just three victories to their name in three months coming into the match, but nothing comes easily to the Blues these days.
Callum witnessed it all from the stands, sitting behind the visitors’ dugout at Dean Court, not 24 hours after Chelsea rejected his transfer request and Sarri was adamantly declaring that he is the future of the club. Of course, the future isn’t now, and the present reality is that the 18-year-old remains just the fourth-choice winger.
“He played three days ago. There was Willian [in the starting XI], so I had only one winger on the bench. We have four wingers, one had to be in the stands.”
-Maurizio Sarri; source: Goal
Two wingers playing, one on the bench, one in the stands. That’s them rules! We know Sarri doesn’t like to tweak his rules too much.
Fair enough, I suppose — Hudson-Odoi had featured in five of the previous six, starting three — though the obvious expectation now has to be that Hudson-Odoi is at least on the bench against Huddersfield Town on Sunday, if not starting opposite Hazard, or if Sarri’s bold enough, an in-form Willian.