Chelsea stepped into a difficult run of games and, in the first step, the team tripped. The Blues had a great opportunity to take three points from struggling Southampton. On paper, the game should not have been as difficult as it was, but for one reason or another, Chelsea failed to create and convert crucial chances.
Despite all the struggles, the main talking point of the match was Callum Hudson-Odoi’s substitution. At halftime, Thomas Tuchel recognized the need to change if his side wanted the right results. Thus, he brought Hudson-Odoi on for Tammy Abraham. This move alone created questions, but since something needed to be done, it was acceptable. After all but 30 minutes in the second half, it came as a big shock when Hudson-Odoi’s number came up on sideline board. The young Englishman was coming off after being a substitute himself. What was more surprising was seeing Hakim Ziyech coming on; this particular move was a mistake from Tuchel and it may be why Chelsea did not win the match.
Allowing a player only 30 minutes on the pitch limits opportunities. It has to be noted that Hudson-Odoi did not play at his best during those minutes, but he was not bad either. However, taking him off limited his opportunities to make an impact on the match overall. Tuchel may not have been happy about some aspects of the youngster’s game, but it did not warrant a substitute’s substitution.
The most concerning part of this was putting the game of Ziyech’s shoulders. Assuming that Hudson-Odoi’s performance was so awful, bringing Ziyech on for the last 15 minutes of the match only means one thing: go and win the game. Although Ziyech only had a few minutes on the field, his contribution was nonexistent. Much less was it the way the manager expected it.
Unfortunately, Ziyech is not ready to carry such burden at the moment. If he were fully fit, both mentally and physically, then the move wouldn’t have been questioned. However, he isn’t, which only puts unnecessary pressure on the player. It is needless to say he has the ability in his locker to change any game. But as it stands, considering his current form, he is unlikely to do so.
If that wasn’t enough, Tuchel went on the offensive in the post-match press conference. Now, I am all for players being called out when underperforming or not following directions—particularly when it leads the team losing a game—but in this case, Hudson-Odoi only came on the field at halftime and did not do much wrong. Stating that he was not happy with the players attitude, or that the player is not trustful or reliable, is asking for trouble.
Tuchel is definitely not afraid of making unorthodox calls when it comes to his team. However, this particular incident was a self-inflicted mistake. One can only hope it does not negatively affect the upcoming fixtures.
What did you make of Hudson-Odoi’s substitution? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter!