Saturday’s epic comeback against West Bromwich Albion, the first time any team have avoided defeat from a three-goal half-time deficit in nearly a decade in the Premier League, has been drawing our attentions more for what we did wrong than what we did right. And that’s fair enough: you won’t get better unless you fix your mistakes and shortcomings.
But as far as the latter category’s concerned, we should certainly single out one Callum Hudson-Odoi, who came on at half-time and changed the game. Following a week of stories where his future at the club was once again questioned — thanks, Bayern — Callum found the perfect time to score his second career Premier League goal.
“I just wanted to come on and have an input to the game. We were direct as a team, I was allowed to run at my defender and put crosses in and I was glad we were able to get our goals.”
At that point, Chelsea looked like we might go on to win it, but in the end, we had to settle for just a 3-3 draw with last-gasp equalizer. Still, the win showed not only the team’s talent (certainly in attack), but our team spirit.
3 – Chelsea have become the first Premier League team since West Ham in February 2011 to avoid defeat after trailing by 3+ goals at half-time, a game which was also against West Brom at the Hawthorns, and ended 3-3. Character. pic.twitter.com/lLDfRSDEH3— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) September 26, 2020
And while it was the three Academy boys who scored, Hudson-Odoi says the new arrivals have quickly acclimated and have gelled well with the group — which is never a bad thing.
“I think you can see how good the spirit is here. All the new boys that have come into the squad have gelled really well. They are improving us as a side, they’ve all been working really hard in training and they show out on the pitch that they are quality players.
“We all have the right mentality and the right spirit to go on and win games. The start wasn’t the best, we know that, but we showed what we are all about by turning the game around and leaving with a point. The new players have played their part and they’ve come in and bought into the mentality that we have at this club.”
Good spirits lead to good results, which give confidence that can be contagious. Confidence can be the difference between winning the title or finishing tenth, as we saw with Chelsea in 2015-16. Fortunately the similar bad vibes that Saturday’s first-half evoked were swiftly put back in their box with the strong second-half response.
“[We] knew we just had to keep pushing, keep attacking and that the goals would eventually come for us. [...] We definitely felt we were still in the game. No matter what the score is, in football you always feel like you have a chance to turn things around.
“At half-time we all said the same thing, we need to keep our heads up and get back out there and get the goals we need to turn the game around as quick as possible. [...] I felt that if we kept playing the way we were doing, continued to work hard and attacked then I felt we could get our goals. Luckily we managed to do that.
“We showed great character to turn things around Unfortunately we couldn’t get the win, but given that we were 3-0 down we will take the point and move on.”
As long as we maintain our belief, we have the talent to get good results. That belief will be tested many more times in the future, this season and beyond, and it won’t always be easy to stay the course. We’re still in the early stages of the multi-year project to rebuilt and the squad is very young still (even those brought in for big moneys). Hudson-Odoi himself is the youngest first-team regular. But as he improves and as others improve around him, so will the team’s consistency and our results.
In this, we must believe.