One of the very few bright spots from Chelsea’s festive weekend of five dropped points was the performance of young Callum Hudson-Odoi, who got the start last night and played the second-half against Arsenal on Saturday. Throughout those 135 minutes, he was central to most good things Chelsea did with the ball, from taking on defenders on the wings, to drifting into dangerous central and overload positions, to pinging pin-point passes across the pitch with any part of either feet.
While Hudson-Odoi couldn’t quite will Chelsea to a win against Aston Villa, his efforts did not go unrecognized by the manager afterwards.
“I liked his performance today and I liked the range of his passing which was very evident in the first half. a couple of great cross field ball and some of feet, touches and movement were great.”
Of course, there’s plenty of room for improvement, collectively and individually. For Callum, it’s about improving his direct impact on the scoreboard, which is something he himself has talked many times as well. Hopefully, with more regular minutes, such improvements will arrive regularly as well.
“The obvious next part is end product, because we want to see Callum as he did against Arsenal to go one-v-one, to be confident to go one-v-one, because he has the ability to do it and to get crosses in like he did for Tammy at Arsenal… The top wingers produce it in the Premier League in recent years and Callum definitely has capabilities and that will be the next stage for him.”
Hudson-Odoi’s claims for a spot in the starting lineup have come just in time for the youngster, with Christian Pulisic playing himself back into form and (hopefully) fitness and Hakim Ziyech getting close to returning as well. Lampard had some good news in that regard last night as well, though when exactly Chelsea next game may be is unclear right now due to the COVID-19 outbreaks at Manchester City and Morecambe, our next two scheduled opponents.
“With Hakim the way he was playing, he was being very effective for us in terms of assists, goal creation, chance creation and some goals. And also a real confidence in the way he was playing and we were very fluid at the time. [...] You are going to miss players at that level when they drop out and we want him back.”
“There is a possibility he could be fit for Manchester City if it goes ahead on Sunday. I will know that later in the week, but he is certainly progressing to the point where he is very close to fitness.”
-Frank Lampard; source: Football.London
Getting a bit of extended rest in the middle of the festive crunch might be a blessing in disguise — assuming we use it well to recover, rethink, and return to at least our previous form, if not even better.