Hudson-Odoi shines on first Premier League start

A much-desired starting Chelsea XI cruised to Premier League victory over Brighton & Hove Albion thanks to three fantastic team goals.

After a solid start trying to break through the ‘Brighton Bus’, Olivier Giroud (38) got the ball rolling for the Blues after flicking home Callum Hudson-Odoi’s cross to give the home a much-deserved lead.

Teenager Hudson-Odoi made his first Premier League start – who recently debuted and started for England – and showed why there is much hype surrounding the English wonderkid as his quick feet to skip allowed him to skip pass Anthony Knockaert with ease, before rolling the ball across the box for Giroud to cleverly finish at the near post.

Giroud, making his first league start of 2019, contributed with only his second goal in the Premier League this season (although he is currently the is the top scorer in this season’s Europa League with nine).

On the hour mark, Eden Hazard once again showcased his world-class talent as he curled home from the edge of the box from Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s pass to score his 14th league goal of the season and his 29th goal contribution overall (17 goals, 12 assists). Overrated though apparently…

Loftus-Cheek then finished off the scoring with an incredible 25-yard strike into the top corner to seal the victory and three points for Maurizio’s Sarri side.

Photo Source: Premier League

All three Chelsea’s goals involved players who have played more minutes in the Europa League than the Premier League this season.

Teenager Hudson-Odoi made his first Premier League start – having already won two caps for England – and showed quick feet to skip by Anthony Knockaert before rolling the ball across the box for Giroud to cleverly finish at the near post.

Giroud, making his first league start of 2019, is the top scorer in this season’s Europa League with nine. This was only his second league goal.

Maurizio Sarri’s side were in control without scoring a second until Hazard popped up. The Belgian, back in the starting line-up after being surprisingly rested against Cardiff on Sunday, ran on to Loftus-Cheek’s pass before cutting inside Lewis Dunk and scoring from 16 yards out.

Three minutes later roles were reversed when Hazard picked out England midfielder Loftus-Cheek who curled a beautiful effort home from long range.

Photo Source: @ChelseaFC

Loftus-Cheek has scored five Premier League goals this season in only two starts and 16 substitute appearances.

The Blues – who have won six out of eight games in all competitions – are now only behind Arsenal and the Champions League places on goal difference.

As for Maurizio Sarri, on this form – who has been accused of tactical stubbornness and bizarre player selection all season – could struggle to justify dropping Hudson-Odoi, Loftus-Cheek and Giroud for Monday’s crucial game against West Ham United.

Match Statistics

Possession (%) – Chelsea 68%, Brighton 32%
Shots – Chelsea 17, Brighton 3
Shots on Target – Chelsea 4, Brighton 1
Corners – Chelsea 7, Brighton 1
Fouls – Chelsea 5, Brighton 9
Offsides – Chelsea 0, Brighton 2
Yellow/Red Cards – Chelsea 0/0, Brighton 0/0

(Bonus Stat) Let’s have two tonight…

• 2 – Chelsea have had two English players (Callum Hudson-Odoi & Ruben Loftus-Cheek) assist a goal in the same Premier League match for the first time since January 2012 against Bolton (John Terry and Ashley Cole).

• 16 – Eden Hazard has been directly involved in 16 of Chelsea’s 32 Premier League goals at Stamford Bridge this season (9 goals, 7 assists), over twice that of any other player at the club.

Post-Match Thoughts

• Great result, great team performance.
• This HAS to be the starting XI for the rest of the season now.
• Christensen rock solid.
• CHO once again showing his prodigious talent.
• RLC masterclass (praying for his back troubles to disappear).
• Giroud offers so much in link-up play. Underrated.

Chelsea Player/Manager Ratings

Starting XI
Kepa – 6, Did he actually touch the ball?
Azpilicueta – 7, A much-improved performance from the captain. Needs to be dropping this sort of defensive displays for the rest of the season however.
Christensen – 8, Rock solid display from the young Danish centre-back. How he hasn’t started more games this season is baffling to me. He is our best centre-back, no question.
David Luiz – 7, A quiet and composed night for the usually ‘loud’ Brazilian. Luiz and Christensen should be our go-to centre-back partnership for the rest of the season.
Emerson – 7, Another assured outing for Emerson. Offered output going forward and looked comfortable from a defensive perspective. No. 1 left-back for me.
Kanté – 7, The Frenchman had another solid game and offered support in both sides of the pitch. Makes it look very easy.
Jorginho – 9, MOTM. Started sloppy in the first few minutes but ended up having a truly fantastic game. The constant criticism and scapegoating thrown at him because he’s trusted by Sarri needs to stop. Jorginho is a fantastic player, as simple as that.
Loftus-Cheek – 9, The game where Ruben Loftus-Cheek became the #8 we have been missing since a certain record goalscorer left the club. Brilliant performance. Sublime goal, great assist… A Ruben masterclass.
Hudson-Odoi – 8, Another game, another positive performance from the talented youngster. Finally gets his deserved start in the league and definitely did not disappoint.
Giroud – 8, Offers so much to our current style of play. Link-up play, technically sound with his feet, great movement… needs to play more outside of the Europa League for me.
Hazard – 9, Gave Brighton nightmares throughout the game. He is simply a class above everyone on the pitch more often than not. Running out of superlatives to describe how good he truly is.

Substitutions
Zappacosta (73′ for Azpilicueta) – 6
Kovačić (82′ for Loftus-Cheek) – 6
Willian (84′ for Hazard) – 6

All three substitutes gave others a much-needed rest when coming on and helped keep the team stay solid and towards the much-deserved clean sheet.

Manager
Maurizio Sarri – 9, An almost perfect night for the Head Coach. Great choice of a starting line-up and set up the team fantastically from a tactical perspective. More of the same please boss!

Terry Sazio