June 5, 2023

Pat Nevin found himself nodding along to a comment made by a Chelsea supporter about Callum Hudson-Odoi on the weekend.

Writing for the club website, Nevin revealed that a fan watching the game against West Ham United at Stamford Bridge made a very valid argument about Hudson-Odoi.

The 21-year-old was not available for the London derby, having missed the previous 13 fixtures through injury.

He could only watch on as his teammates huffed and puffed as they attempted to blow the Hammers’ house down.

Another annoying afternoon for Chelsea

They eventually managed to break down the front door, previously padlocked by the Irons, thanks to a late winner from Christian Pulisic.

But the victory failed to cover all the cracks that continue to cause Chelsea some discomfort.

An irritation that has been prevalent in the past few matches and the source behind three defeats from the last seven.

Thomas Tuchel’s men were frustrated by a brilliant Brentford, let their guard down against Arsenal, then left it to the very last minute to overcome West Ham.

Each of these performances share a common theme: Chelsea dominant possession, struggle to create many chances and, other than on Sunday, ultimately pay the price.

Another storyline that has run throughout the last month or so is the repeated absence of Hudson-Odoi.

Before hitting the treatment room, the young attacker was in decent form and very much part of Tuchel’s plans.

Could Callum have been the difference?

If available, surely the Cobham academy graduate would’ve made an appearance in at least one of the recent capital city clashes.

Chelsea certainly could’ve done with his ability to beat an opponent whilst being hammered back by West Ham, something that an eagle-eyed viewer pointed out in the stands.

“At the game a fan in front of me commented that he felt the pace and trickery of Callum Hudson-Odoi is also something the manager would have liked to have used more against the type of defences we come up against most weeks, especially at Stamford Bridge,” explained Nevin.

“And I agreed wholeheartedly.

“Note how deep Arsenal, Brentford and West Ham defended and in huge numbers in recent weeks.

“To get through those massed defences if you haven’t got the specialist wing-backs, it is just that bit more likely when you have players such as Callum and to a good degree, Mateo Kovacic as well, who can go past players, break the lines as they say these days, and draw more defenders out of the central defensive area thus creating space for the strikers.”

Instead of Hudson-Odoi’s quick feet in wide positions, Tuchel only really had the options of Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Marcos Alonso at wing-back.

Loftus-Cheek can certainly take it past a defender, but playing in an unfamiliar role limited his skills.

Alonso meanwhile has never really been blessed with deception, however still proved to be a vital attacking weapon by assisting Pulisic’s goal.

Chelsea may have to rely upon this combination for a little while longer until Hudson-Odoi makes his long-awaited return.


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