Chelsea winger Callum Hudson-Odoi reckons that he’s now playing with more freedom under Thomas Tuchel amid indifferent form under Frank Lampard and Maurizio Sarri.
Hudson-Odoi, 21, made his return to the Blues line up for the contest in the West Midlands after being side-lined with Covid-19 in the build-up to Christmas.
And he showed just why Thomas Tuchel had to include him in this game from the start, proving pivotal in the first two Chelsea goals. He managed to win the penalty that led to Jorginho’s equaliser in the first half, then delivered a peach of a cross for substitute and eventual man of the match winner Romelu Lukaku to flick home from close range.
Pivotal contributions that we have become accustomed to under the German’s reign, but this hasn’t always been the case in his the 21-year-old’s Blues career.
After an explosive 2017/18 campaign under now Lazio manager Sarri, a long-term injury halted what was an exciting prospect at the time. The knock on effect that injury had in a psychological sense has been looming over the player in question for a while now, especially under Lampard’s tenure. But he now seems fully in his stride once again after a stunted but enthralling start to his career in west London.
There were suggestions of a potential loan out in the recent summer transfer window to Borussia Dortmund for Chelsea’s No.20, but Tuchel’s faith in him has now paid dividends as shown with his contributions in the Aston Villa win.
“We have spoken. It was a very easy decision for me to make on the last day of the transfer period.,” Tuchel said back in September.
“We cannot to let a player who is in the 18/19 man squad. He is able to play as a right wing-back, a left wing-back in the two ten positions. He knows the group, we know him very well. There was no chance to say yes on the last day.
“For him personally it may have been a good opportunity but for us and our targets that we want to achieve, it was simply impossible. It was an easy one for me actually.
“Callum has to overcome the gap between training and games. I see a stronger Callum every day in training and he needs to overcome this gap and show this kind of determination that he shows in training.
“If he gets minutes, it’s never a gift. Nobody gets gifts because we take maybe sometimes hard decisions like for Callum not to let him go. He needs to deserve it.
“I know it’s not his favourite position but I think he can play this position and serve the team when it’s necessary. Today it was necessary and still he can do better. Still he can be more aggressive, still he needs to push himself absolutely to the limits.
“This is what he does in training. He needs to overcome this gap to fight for his place in the squad. This is life at Chelsea.”
And despite what looked a rather gloomy situation in the summer, Hudson-Odoi has got those minutes in style
The winger has revealed exactly what Tuchel has done for him personally to enhance his Chelsea prospects, and what has changed since his time under Lampard, Sarri and even the early days of the German’s regime that threatened to initially kill off his time in west London.
“I think he’s just made me play with more freedom and told me to be myself,” Hudson-Odoi told Stadium Astro.
“He knows what I’m capable of and knows my ability, so he’s telling me to do all of that in training games and to put that in matches.
“I think obviously the freedom side of it, it makes you want to be yourself and dribble with the ball, create chances, get shots off and get assists.
“So, definitely I think he has given me the freedom to be higher up the pitch and do what I can do as much as possible.
“Obviously, it’s a delight to be able to do that and hopefully it keeps on going as well.”
How did you rate the Chelsea players from their triumph in the West Midlands on Boxing Day? Make your selections below!
On a more holistic scale, the winger’s rise can be seen by his overall stats from the season where he ranks in the top 10 in the league for expected assists per 90 (9th- 0.27), shot creation actions per 90 (4th- 5.12) and carries into the penalty area (8th- 26), as per FBref.com.
Chelsea’s young prodigy completed a total of 31 carries at Villa Park, and also attained a pass success rate of 77.8%, which represented a decent showing on his behalf.
Source by Football London