Opinion

Callum Hudson-Odoi: Chelsea's injury woes provide chance to justify the hype

Tom Gott
Callum Hudson-Odoi has a chance to shine for Chelsea
Callum Hudson-Odoi has a chance to shine for Chelsea / Visionhaus/Getty Images
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Losing Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner is obviously a bad thing for Chelsea, but if there's one player who could quietly be licking his lips it's young Callum Hudson-Odoi.

Now 20, the young winger remains one of English football's brightest starlets, but there's no denying that the hysteria surrounding him has diminished over the past few years.

Since Bayern Munich wanted to sign him for £35m in the summer of 2019, Hudson-Odoi has struggled for minutes under two different managers - Frank Lampard and Thomas Tuchel - while a nasty Achilles injury has played its part as well.

Following Tuchel's arrival, however, Hudson-Odoi has largely been healthy and yet had been restricted to just nine Premier League starts before Lukaku and Werner went down, with the boss' early faith in him fading startlingly quickly.

Plenty of Chelsea supporters have been crying out for Hudson-Odoi to be given some consistent minutes in attack just to prove what he can do, and with Lukaku and Werner both out, it's time for the 20-year-old to justify that support.


Callum Hudson-Odoi - 2021/22 statistics

Total appearances: 8 (553 minutes)
Premier League appearances: 3 (217 minutes)
Full 90 minutes played: 0
Goals: 1
Assists: 1


To Hudson-Odoi's credit, he did exactly that in his first start of the spell without Werner and Lukaku. In the 7-0 mauling of Norwich, he bagged a goal and forced another own goal from Max Aarons, but the problem is that, with all due respect, battering an awful Norwich side is hardly the sign of superstardom.

He should get the chance to maintain that form when Chelsea travel to Newcastle on Saturday. Werner and Lukaku are both out, Christian Pulisic isn't ready to return just yet and Hakim Ziyech's performance against Southampton will have earned him a nice spell back on the bench.

That means the job of creating goals will be left to Hudson-Odoi, whose style of play is exactly what Chelsea have been crying out for over the past two years - effectively since Eden Hazard left.

Like the Belgian, Hudson-Odoi wants to take the game to his opponents. He wants to fly down the left wing, use his speed and trickery to burst past defenders and get the ball in the box as soon as possible. Nobody else in Tuchel's squad does that.

A lack of creativity and link-up play with the strikers has been an enormous problem for Chelsea for a while now. Not only do the Blues not have an elite playmaker - Ziyech has disappointed in that regard - but since Hazard left, they haven't had a player who just wants to make something happen every time he gets on the ball.

It's for that reason that the re-emergence of Ruben Loftus-Cheek has had fans so excited, but Hudson-Odoi is the real man for the job, and if he can steal the show against Newcastle, he'll really send a message to Tuchel.

As Tuchel has long been insisting, Hudson-Odoi cannot rely on spurts of excellence and must put together a run of consistent performances to prove he can hang at this top level.

The boss wants 250 top games from Hudson-Odoi, towards whom he confessed to being harsh in the hope of steering the youngster to that elite level that most supporters know he is capable of.

Thomas Tuchel, Callum Hudson-Odoi
Tuchel wants the best for the youngster / Shaun Botterill/GettyImages

With the minutes now coming his way, the ball is in Hudson-Odoi's court. Each good performance will earn him another start, and Tuchel will happily keep him in the squad if the goal contributions keep coming up.

Newcastle are vulnerable opponents and Hudson-Odoi should expect a good performance from himself. Get the job done, and a start against Burnley will be his reward. It's as simple as that.

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