Hudson-Odoi excited by title race involvement and the Leicester challenge

Ahead of domestic football’s resumption today and our lunchtime trip to Leicester City, Callum Hudson-Odoi has revealed how the Chelsea squad are relishing the pressure of leading from the front in the Premier League…

While his club team-mates have spent the past fortnight in all corners of the globe fighting fiercely for World Cup qualification, Hudson-Odoi has been back at Cobham using the time to stay fit and ready for domestic matters.

The 21-year-old has featured in eight of the last nine Chelsea matches and started the past five as he continues to earn the trust of manager Thomas Tuchel.

‘It’s been good,’ he says of the international break.

‘I got a bit of a rest and that was nice because we needed to recover.’

Being ready for the hectic schedule on the horizon is key as the Blues prepare for a run of 13 games in 43 days across three separate competitions. By the time that clutch of matches is over, the fireworks will have seen out the end of 2021 and the Premier League title picture will be a lot clearer.

Courtesy of eight wins and two draws from our opening 11 league games, Tuchel’s side currently top the table ahead of Manchester City, West Ham and Liverpool. After four seasons without the title, belief is growing in SW6 that we can compete once again with the standard-setters and Hudson-Odoi admits that prospect is one to savour.

‘It’s very exciting,’ the wideman insists. ‘As a player, you want to be involved in many games and fighting for the title.

‘We’ve started really well this season and we’re now at the top of the table but we want to maintain that and stay there for as long as possible, hopefully until the end of the season.

‘At times, we do notice the teams behind us and check to see if they’re coming closer but at the same time we’re more focused on ourselves. Our minds are always on how we’re going to win the next game and that’s the most important thing.

‘If we’re focused on what we do in each game and every training session then hopefully the results will be the outcome of that work that we put in.’

After finishing just a point and a place behind the Blues last term and triumphing over us in the FA Cup final, Leicester’s start to 2021/22 has been a little more shaky and the East Midlanders currently sit 12th.

Brendan Rodgers will also be without the services of influential midfielder Youri Tielemans, while longer-term absentees James Justin, Wesley Fofana and Marc Albrighton all remain sidelined. However Hudson-Odoi, who started our league defeat at the King Power Stadium in January and came on in May’s 1-0 final defeat, recalls how difficult the Foxes can be.

‘We want to extend our points lead over those teams behind us so we’re going there with that winning mindset,’ he added. ‘We know how important the game is but it will be a difficult match.

‘They’re a very good team with very good players. We played them a couple of times last season and lost to them in the FA Cup final, which was obviously a difficult result to take.

‘It will be tough but we know the qualities that we have and we know that we can beat them as well. We want to win every game we play and hopefully we can go there to get the result.’

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