Callum Hudson-Odoi has been reflecting on the achievement of recently becoming a Chelsea centurion, as well as changing his mindset from scoring and assisting goals to keeping them out…
The Wandsworth winger brought up 100 appearances for the Blues in our recent Premier League victory against Aston Villa, a landmark he had been closing in on for some time. It was a positive day all round at Stamford Bridge as we secured a 3-0 victory, a scoreline we will hope to repeat when we welcome the same opponents to SW6 in the Carabao Cup third round tonight.
Hudson-Odoi will hope to feature in our latest cup outing and start his quest for another 100 games for his boyhood club, a record he was understandably proud to discuss when we caught up with him for an exclusive chat ahead of this evening’s action.
‘I got told a couple of times by my brother that I was pretty close,’ he said. ‘I didn’t know it was that game specifically so when I found out, it was a bit of a surprise but a happy feeling for me as well.
‘I was buzzing about it but the fact we won on the day was more important. It was a good result but obviously making 100 appearances for this club is pretty special too.’
For a boy who grew up at Cobham dreaming of playing one game for the club, hitting three figures is a particularly meaningful accomplishment, even more so at such a young age. Hudson-Odoi made his debut in the FA Cup in January 2018 a month after turning 17 and has hit the 100-game milestone just shy of turning 21.
By contrast, John Terry, another Academy graduate who successfully navigated a route into the senior side, was 14 months older when he reached the same number of club appearances.
‘It was a dream of mine to get the opportunity to play my first game for Chelsea, coming on against Newcastle, and 100 appearances later has just gone so quick,’ explained Hudson-Odoi.
‘It’s a crazy feeling when you’re in the Academy and thinking about playing just one game for Chelsea, to see the atmosphere and how it is to play on the pitch.
‘So to play 100 games for the club that you’ve wanted to play for from the beginning is an amazing feeling.’
The wideman’s milestone appearance came against Villa in that 3-0 league win 11 days ago, a scoreline that masked a much tighter contest. Patience and persistence were required as it took time to break down the Clarets’ resilient rearguard performance and Hudson-Odoi reflected on what the visitors did well to frustrate us.
‘They played the same formation as us so at times it was a bit difficult,’ he added. ‘It was a game where it was more about being patient and waiting for the goals to come.
‘They were defending very deep and at times it was difficult for us to make certain runs or get the ball into certain areas to penetrate them and be dangerous so it was a tough game.
‘At the same time, we got the job done, got the 3-0 win and a clean sheet as well which was amazing. We did what we needed to do, it was a good game and I enjoyed it.’
It was a wing-back role for the Londoner against Villa, as it has been for most of his appearances under Thomas Tuchel, and the new position has forced him into a change of thinking when he runs onto the field. No longer is he so blinkered on causing a threat in the final third and instead his more holistic responsibility means clean sheets are savoured as much as goals and assists.
‘When I’m playing in that channel, it’s about helping in attack as well by providing different options of scoring or assisting,’ he said. ‘I try to find different positions to help the team by staying wide, coming short or making runs to create more space.
‘The way I look at it now is I’m in the situation where I have to help out much more in defence rather than attack. It’s up and down and it gets tiring at times but you’re always pushing for the clean sheet because if they don’t score, they don’t win.
‘It’s much more of a defensive mindset for me trying to keep clean sheets but it’s started really well.’
The Blues have five clean sheets from six games and will be looking for the same again in order to secure progress to the last 16.
‘The standard that we set for ourselves is we want to win every game,’ added Hudson-Odoi. ‘Our mindset is on winning, getting through to the next round and going as far in the competition as possible.
‘We’ve started the season well so we don’t want to slack off. We want to keep the momentum so hopefully we get the win and go through to the next round.’
Highlights of today's game plus the full 90 minutes will be available to watch on this website and the 5th Stand app from 1am (UK time).