Premier League

Why Callum Hudson-Odoi deserves to start over Christian Pulisic for Chelsea

The young winger has found himself behind Hakim Ziyech, Christian Pulisic and Timo Werner in the pecking order, but his recent form means he has to start

 
6:38pm on Thursday 7th January 2021
By
Cameron Smith

Dynamic, direct, and dangerous, Callum Hudson-Odoi has all the talent in the world, and he's going places.

The 20-year-old first burst onto the scene in 2017, helping England's U17 side win the World Cup, before netting 10 FA Youth Cup goals in just seven games in 2017/18.

He made his first-team debut later that season, coming off the bench in the FA Cup against Newcastle on 28 January 2018.

His progression since then has been slow, with first-team opportunities hard to come by, first under Maurizio Sarri, and more recently under Frank Lampard.

In fact, Hudson-Odoi has made just 13 Premier League starts in his career so far, less than Phil Foden's minimal 18, and the same number as Conor Gallagher, on loan at West Brom from Chelsea, has managed this season alone.

This lack of involvement is what has sparked rumours of a move away to Bayern Munich, with the Bavarians reportedly offering £70m to acquire the Englishman's services last summer; a bid Chelsea rejected.

Faith has not been shown in Hudson-Odoi as of yet, but his form in recent cameos has prompted a desire for him to start amongst Chelsea fans, and he would certainly merit a slot in the starting XI.

Hudson-Odoi's 2020/21 so far

One major criticism of Hudson-Odoi before this season was his lack of goals in senior football; it was fair considering he'd netted just once in the Premier League before the 2020/21 season.

He had, however, scored four and assisted two in four Europa League starts in 2018/19, but his goalscoring form in the league was not up to scratch considering his immense talent.

He's since netted twice in the league this season, and although that doesn't sound all that impressive, it's the same number of open play goals as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has managed, in a quarter of the minutes.

Whilst Aubameyang isn't having a productive season, it's still a good reflection of Hudson-Odoi's improvement.

20 yrs - W (RL) - Chelsea
79
Defending
Creative
Passing
Attacking
Shooting
Decisive
Aerials
Physical
JavaScript chart by amChartsLDefendingCreativePassingAttackingShootingDecisiveAerialsPhysical10-10-5051015100%
328
Played matches
8
2
1
Shots P90
2.18
Dribbles P90
1.09
Successful passing %
87%
Crosses P90
5.18

Furthemore, Hudson-Odoi's xG + xA per 90 tally of 0.56 is better than Christian Pulisic's 0.48, and whilst the American had an electric end to 2019/20, his two goals and assists in all competitions this season pales in comparison to Hudson-Odoi's five, despite the Englishman playing less.

One area of Hudson-Odoi's game that has seen a drop-off, however, has been his dribbling. Known in his academy for his ability to glide past opponents, the winger kept this up in senior football; averaging 4.6 dribbles per 90 in all competitions in 2018/19 and 3.8 the year after. This year, that number has fallen to 1.9.

It's not clear as to why this has happened, but it's something Hudson-Odoi will need to work on.

Whilst his dribbling numbers have gone down, his overall creative statistics have improved; his key passes per 90 total of 2.1 last year has increased to 3.0 this year, and when you watch Hudson-Odoi, his vision is something that certainly catches the eye.

His Rivals

Pulisic, Hakim Ziyech and Timo Werner have all been preferred to Hudson-Odoi this season, and it's no surprise considering they were bought for huge sums of money, but is it justified?

Werner may have eight goal contributions this season, but he's missed some absolute sitters and on current form, Hudson-Odoi deserves to start ahead of him.

Ziyech provides flair and creativity off the right flank, and with an xA per 90 tally of 0.54, he could dovetail perfectly with Hudson-Odoi; the Moroccan on the right, the Cobham graduate on the left.

Pulisic was devastating last year, and whilst he's no doubt a talent, his injury issues have hampered his development, and Hudson-Odoi is playing better than him.

Conclusion

Rotation is key, and with so many games coming up, Lampard will surely give minutes to all of his attackers.

But as for who should start against Fulham next Friday, Hudson-Odoi will be banging on the manager's door demanding his name is on the teamsheet.

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