More of that please, Callum Hudson-Odoi. On his first Premier League start for Chelsea, the young English international demonstrated Maurizio Sarri what he is capable of. As the Blues eased past the Brighton challenge, the young Hudson-Odoi bagged an assist and impressed everyone with the way he played.
This was a game that Chelsea completely dominated and on the right side, defenders found it extremely difficult to stop this young attacker. There had been clamouring from fans to give Hudson-Odoi his Premier League start and he might have been under pressure to live up to the expectations when the starting lineup was announced. However, throughout the night, the youngster showed no nerves and stepped up to the plate, delivering a fine performance and arguably the best from a Chelsea player in the game.
Hudson-Odoi was a threat to the Brighton defence, his moves leaving the defenders trailing, his passes catching the Albion players off-guarded. He was unflinching in his game, often picking the right man to pass the ball without fail. The 18-year-old made the most of the opportunity he was handed and it left the Brighton defenders scratching their heads.
Against Brighton, who play Manchester City on Saturday in the FA Cup semi-final, Hudson-Odoi thrilled the home fans with his movements, a performance that was so stupefying that two world-class goals from Chelsea haven’t stopped the England international from hogging much of the limelight.
Hudson-Odoi made the most of the opportunity
As his heatmap suggests, he, at times, drifted centre to support Chelsea in the build-up. While Azpilicueta occupied the right flank, Hudson-Odoi moved inwards and positioned himself on places where he could inflict blows to the visitors. Later in the second half, Hudson-Odoi switched flanks and, with Chelsea already leading 3-0, played in the midfield, circulating the ball, keeping the possession.
It must be said that Hudson-Odoi’s ball control was incredible. The youngster showed immense ball control under high-pressure situations. Statistically, Hudson-Odi delivered four key passes, highest by an individual in the game. He also had one shot on goal.
Despite being often marked by more than one defender, Hudson-Odoi racked up 65 passes with an accuracy of 92.3%. He was a supplier of crosses into the Brighton box. He delivered seven crosses into the Brighton box. In spite of Brighton playing with a 5-man defence, three of his crosses reached the intended destination.
He reaped the reward for his good work in the 38th minute when he assisted Giroud. He overcame the resistance from Knockaert with his quick footwork before crossing the ball into the box. Giroud tapped in from close distances to hand Chelsea the lead.
Hudson-Odoi’s defensive awareness
Hudson-Odoi displayed tremendous defensive awareness on the night, dropping deep to defend, making those last-ditch recoveries.
His recovery of the ball against Yves Bissouma was fantastic work. As Bissouma surged into Chelsea’s defensive third, Hudson-Odi was quick to make a brilliant tackle from behind, dispossessing the midfielder.
In the first minute of the injury time, Hudson-Odoi made another recovery. Murray had found Knockaert inside the box. As the attacker looked ready to send in a shot, Hudson-Odoi, came out of nowhere, rushed in to dispossess and regain possession. That was another superb recovery. A moved that underlined the defensive abilities of the young superstar. Hudson-Odi had made three tackles in the game, a decent output.
At the final whistle, this was Hudson-Odoi’s night. Standing on the touchline, Sarri might’ve felt he should’ve given the youngster a start even before. Above all, this was a fine performance from the West Londoners. A game where their players dictated everything and bore the fruit.