Friday, April 19, 2019

Youngsters the key to Chelsea’s recent improvement

David Nugent in Editorial, English Premier League 12 Apr 2019

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Chelsea has become synonymous with signing and then loaning out young players. The Blues often make a good profit from selling their young players. However, very few youngsters break into the first team.

Chelsea now has some of the top young English players in the top-flight in their squad in the shape of central midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek and of course winger Callum Hudson-Odoi. Blues boss Maurizio Sarri rested Hudson-Odoi against Slavia Prague on Thursday night in the Europa League, while Loftus-Cheek only made a cameo appearance.

Youngsters have made the difference of late

Sarri has taken a while to use the pair. However, both have made a big impact in the Premier League in recent appearances. The pair have played a role in the Blues recent three-game winning run in the top-flight.

Loftus-Cheek has scored five times this season and produced two assists in the top-flight, despite starting just three Premier League games. The 23-year-old has picked up an attacking return in his last three league appearances for the Blues.

Hudson-Odoi’s return is slightly more meagre in the top-flight, as he has earned just one Premier League assist this season. However, the teenager always looks a danger to opposition defences.

Need to have game time

Loftus-Cheek is not exactly young at 23, but in the context of playing for Chelsea, he is, as the midfielder has enjoyed such limited game time. He did enjoy a productive loan spell at Crystal Palace last season, where he looked impressive for much of the campaign.

The midfielder has expressed his concerns about his game time at Chelsea in the past. However, reportedly he is determined to win a regular role at Stamford Bridge, rather than move on elsewhere to play more regularly.

Although he has only recently started games under Sarri, there are signs that the midfielder may now get the game time he craves at the south west London club.

Hudson-Odoi’s situation is a strange one, as he is reportedly already expressing his concerns about the amount of game time he will get for Chelsea. The youngster’s contract with the Blues expires in 2020 and reportedly the sticking point in any potential extension is a guarantee of first-team football next season.

Sarri has used the young winger sparingly. However, he has featured in four of their last five league games, starting the Blues last two matches. The youngster is mooted as a long-term replacement for rumour-ridden Eden Hazard.

However, if the winger does not sign a new deal then it may force the Blues into selling him this summer or risk losing him for a small development fee next summer.

Youngsters may not start the Liverpool game

Chelsea face a difficult game this weekend, as the Blues travel to Anfield to face league leaders Liverpool. Jurgen Klopp’s team are odds of 4/6 to beat Chelsea and maintain their position at the top of the table.

Despite their impact in recent league games, I have a feeling that experienced boss Sarri may decide to leave one or both out of the starting line-up on Merseyside. The Italian may sacrifice Hudson-Odoi for a more experienced player in Pedro or Willian, as the Blues are likely to be defending for long periods.

Loftus-Cheek may still start in the centre of the park. The alternatives of the likes of Mateo Kovacic and Ross Barkley are not exactly inspiring. The midfielder’s recent form should give him a good chance of a place in the starting line-up.

Whether the pair start against Liverpool or not, they have had a big impact on the team’s performances in recent games. Hopefully, for both Chelsea and England’s sake, they continue to produce influential performances and play on a more regular basis.

Can Loftus-Cheek and Hudson-Odoi nail down regular starting spots at Chelsea?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David Nugent


David is a freelance football writer with nearly a decade of experience writing about the beautiful game. The experienced writer has written for over a dozen websites and also an international soccer magazine offline.
Arguably his best work has come as an editorial writer for Soccernews, sharing his good, bad and ugly opinions on the world’s favourite sport. During David’s writing career he has written editorials, betting previews, match previews, banter, news and opinion pieces.

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