Why Callum Hudson-Odoi deserves to be a regular starter for Chelsea
In a vital game against Brighton &Hove Albion at Stamford Bridge, Callum Hudson-Odoi finally got his first Premier League start for Chelsea. His constant exclusion from the team was a matter of serious debate with Maurizio Sarri being constantly scrutinized for not selecting him.
In fact, the 18-year-old even got his first international start for England before starting a league game for his club. In recent weeks, there was intense pressure on Sarri from the media and fans to give Hudson-Odoi a league start and he finally relented on Wednesday.
Despite the massive expectations around him, the youngster lived up to the hype. Starting on the right-wing, he put up an excellent performance and was a constant threat in the final third.
He even assisted Chelsea's first goal on the night for Oliver Giroud by putting a delicious cross into the box. The majority of Chelsea fans would have felt vindicated in their calls to give Hudson-Odoi more game time. His exceptional display has shown the world that he needs to be a regular starter for the Blues from now.
The reason behind this is not only his performance against Brighton but the qualities he has shown over the course of the season.
The most important thing is that he is a player who is in form and producing the goods in the final third. Despite playing less than 1000 minutes of football, the 18-year-old has five goals and five assists to his name in all competitions.
In contrast, Willian has only scored three goals and provided six assists in 23 Premier League appearances while Pedro has just eight goals and one assist in the Premier League. Interestingly, Hudson-Odoi has one goal more than Willian in the Europa League and the same number of assists as Pedro in the Premier League.
Quite clearly, Maurizio Sarri has given both of them more than enough chances and neither has shown the consistency required.
Moreover, the Chelsea academy starlet is someone who offers something different when compared to the other wingers in the team. The English international likes to stay on the touchline to receive the ball which gives the Blues a lot more width while attacking.
On the other hand, Hazard, Willian, and Pedro like to come infield and end up making the gameplay really narrow.
Further, Hudson-Odoi is also someone who releases the ball quickly and is ideal for the one-touch football Sarri wants his players to play. Also, the U-17 World Cup winner has the ability to deliver pin-point crosses and by the looks of things is clearly Chelsea's best crosser.
Moreover, in their limited time together, it looks like Eden Hazard enjoys linking-up with Hudson-Odoi. It is a no brainer for the manager to start a player who helps bring the best out of Chelsea's talisman.
Lastly, it's high time that the former Napoli manager starts trusting the likes of Hudson-Odoi, Andreas Christensen, and Ruben Loftus-Cheek. With Chelsea's impending transfer ban, the Blues will need their young players to step up their game.
With an aging and underperforming squad, there is no reason to not play these players who have arguably shown more quality than the players starting ahead of them. With Chelsea's experienced members letting them down regularly, there is no risk in giving these youngsters a well-deserved opportunity.
It's high time Sarri looks beyond the age barrier and unleashes these talented youngsters into the deep end to try and end the season on a high.