Callum Hudson-Odoi’s goal in last night’s win over Krasnodar, his first ever in the Champions League, certainly won’t win any beauty contests or quality awards — though the build-up was nice even if the finish really wasn’t all that impressive — but they all count the same in the end. And given that the Krasnodar goalkeeper got a bit lucky when Jorginho’s penalty didn’t bounce in off his back after hitting the post, we can perhaps chalk it up to the football gods balancing the cosmic scales that CHO’s shot spun out of his hands, over his prone body, and into the back of the net to give Chelsea the lead instead.
Hudson-Odoi himself certainly didn’t care how it went in, just that it did.
“I’ll take any goal that comes my way. It was a shot that the goalkeeper mis-parried and it went in but a goal is a goal, so you try to keep improving and get more.
“We worked really hard from the start and we deserved our goals with the way we played. There were a few times when we were lackadaisical, a bit slow at times, but after that we grew into the game and we took our chances well.“
This was Callum’s fourth start and seventh appearance on the season — though first in nearly a month — and his second goal. Considering that he scored a grand total of just three in 33 appearances last season, he’s certainly well on his way to bettering that mark, which can only help his prospects of playing time in what is suddenly a very crowded attacking cadre.
One solution of course is to play practically all of them, which is precisely what Lampard decided to do in the final quarter of the game last night. Mason Mount and Kai Havertz dropped into midfield(-ish) to play ahead of N’Golo and his twin, Kanté, and in support of the three forwards at the top. Hudson-Odoi had been withdrawn in favor of Christian Pulisic at that point, but this version of the 4-3-3 certainly seemed promising and could be the solution to finding the balance we’re looking for — and giving enough playing time to all our sparkling attacking talent who are continuing the process of building chemistry amongst each other.
“I am really happy with the team performance. We worked really hard, we took our chances and we defended as a team, went forward as a team and collectively what the manager wanted, we did in the game. So we are really happy with what we did and hopefully we continue like this.”
“Every formation [Lampard] puts out we try to work on it and try to become better at it. How we played in this game we are used to it. We play it a lot and it is good for us to keep getting used to the same formations, and hopefully keep improving and keep building on it as well.”
-Callum Hudson-Odoi; source: Chelsea FC
It’s easy to forget that despite the moneys spent, Chelsea are still a young team and still a work in progress, and will be for a while. Hudson-Odoi himself is still just 19 (nineteen!), for another week or so, with a tremendously bright future ahead of him — we just have to stay patient for that to arrive in due course.