The Blues wonderkid is finally delivering on the potential that he has threatened to show ever since his debut and impressed against Burnley
Sean Dyche could be heard screaming at Robbie Brady after Callum Hudson-Odoi’s latest overlap left Burnley still feeling vulnerable to Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea. Brady barked back at Dyche: “I know where he f*cking is, I just can’t stop him. What do you want me to do?”
In Tuchel’s first two games as manager, Hudson-Odoi has stood out and he has done so playing in an unfamiliar wing-back position.
The switch has earned the 20-year-old comparisons to Victor Moses under Antonio Conte after the Nigeria international excelled having moved to wing-back from a more attacking position.
Hudson-Odoi is so much more than that, having been regarded by many as the greatest talent to come through the Cobham academy. Only now, though, has he been given a prominent role despite making his Premier League debut almost exactly three years ago under Conte.
Ultimately, he was too young to be a regular under Conte, then he was ignored for too long by Maurizio Sarri and had faced criticism from Frank Lampard. His latest manager clearly likes what he sees.
It could finally be Hudson-Odoi’s time, having only made 14 league starts in three years before Tuchel arrived. He was the man of the match in Tuchel’s first game – a 0-0 draw with Wolves – and he followed it up with another outstanding display in the 2-0 win over Burnley.
Hudson-Odoi completed 100 per cent of his take-ons, made 10 passes in the opposition box, created three chances and had two shots, including one that came off the post.
When asked after the game why he had chosen Hudson-Odoi at wing-back in his first two games, Tuchel replied: “Why not?
“Of course we knew him, there were big rumours around him and Bayern Munich but we knew before if you are interested in football, upcoming players, he was in the focus way before I ever thought about being his manager.
“He can have his input on the line, he has the ability to be decisive with his runs, his speed and at the moment we have opted for this structure.
“He can play in the half positions offensively, this is clear and we wanted to take the chance against Wolves so we went with Chilly and him, today it was Marcos and him.
“He had another good game, if we can improve the precision of our guys in the box then maybe we can score more goals.”
Hudson-Odoi provided the assist for Cesar Azpilicueta to score the opening goal in the first half, while Marcos Alonso completed the scoring in the second half. It was fitting that Lampard’s three outcasts excelled under Tuchel.
It is unlikely Alonso would have played again for Chelsea under Lampard, having not featured since September when he fell out with the club icon over defensive mistakes against West Brom.
This new era appears a happier and kinder one, with Tuchel making every effort to involve those who were on the fringes under Lampard including Hudson-Odoi, and they have quickly repaid them.
It is still early days as Tuchel celebrates his first win as Chelsea manager, but the most notable difference is how he has addressed defensive issues under Lampard.
Two clean sheets, albeit against weaker teams in the Premier League, show an immediate impact that has been brought about by the 3-4-3 system that he is using.
Burnley only had one shot on goal over 90 minutes against Chelsea, who are now playing patiently to grind down their opponents.
It isn’t electric football, but it can produce the wins that the club needs to arrest a decline in the league table having dropped from first place to 10th in six weeks under Lampard.
Their aim now is to qualify for the Champions League through a top-four finish and compete to win the FA Cup and Champions League.
The Tuchel era is underway and Hudson-Odoi is starring in it having been taken off early against Burnley to rest for his manager’s biggest test yet. Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham are next on Thursday and they face a solid Blues side with a revitalised winger playing in a new position.
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