Chelsea's 2-0 loss to Liverpool brought up a lot of talking points.
Kepa Arrizabalaga made another mistake. Jorginho missed a penalty. Andreas Christensen's lapse in concentration earned him a red card and killed the slim hope Chelsea had at winning.
And yet, the only thing fans are actually talking about is why Mason Mount started out on the wing instead of Callum Hudson-Odoi.
The teenager's status in the Chelsea side has been a touchy subject ever since he made his debut towards the end of the 2017/18 season. This was a young winger who looked to have the potential to become a future superstar, and fans wanted him to be treated as such.
His minutes, or lack thereof, under Maurizio Sarri was a large factor in the discontent towards the Italian. Hudson-Odoi had starred in the Europa League but could not seem to fight his way into Sarri's Premier League lineup. Even though he deserved minutes, he was kept on the sidelines.
When Frank Lampard came in last season, that was expected to change. The boss made a point of insisting that he'd start any player if they deserved minutes, regardless of whether they're 16 or 60, and we saw that with Hudson-Odoi once the winger had recovered from his Achilles injury.
He enioyed a brief run in the team, but soon saw this status slipping away. These days, minutes are far from guaranteed, even when Chelsea don't have any alternative wingers to select.
Lampard has opted to start Mount out wide in both of Chelsea's Premier League games so far, which has also earned Mount some unwarranted criticism. He's seen as Lampard's favourite son, just like Jorginho was during Sarri's turbulent reign.
The thing which endears Lampard to Mount is the midfielder's work rate. Mount is a fantastic presser of the ball and is prepared to put in the dirty work on the pitch when needed - things which also helped Willian keep his place in the team last season.
"Willian was the stand out one today," Lampard said of the Brazilian back in October 2019 (via Nizaar Kinsella). "His work ethic when he was off the ball was almost like…if you talk to wingers and tell them what you want from them, we could show them that video of Willian today."
Compare that to this quote from Lampard about Hudson-Odoi from the same month:
"Callum’s talent means that he absolutely has to work hard, to run behind people, to get at people, to be inside, be outside and work off the ball – all those things," he said (via Goal). “That's where he needs to learn because if he wants to play every week, that is what he is going to have to do.”
Even assistant boss Jody Morris admitted that sometimes he wants to 'shake' Hudson-Odoi because of his decision-making, proving that the Chelsea chiefs want to see more from the teenager.
A source has confirmed this to 90min, noting that Lampard is frustrated with Hudson-Odoi's work rate and attitude. He wants more from him in training, even though Hudson-Odoi cut his summer holiday short to get back to work.
Lampard is simply throwing down the gauntlet to Hudson-Odoi and encouraging him to rise to the challenge. It's the same thing he did with Christian Pulisic last season, when Lampard faced accusations of near-racism for refusing to play anyone who wasn't English.
The truth is that Lampard wanted to see Pulisic give more to the team, and the American heard his message. After a spell out of the team, he stepped up and gave Lampard what he wanted, and now he's one of the side's core players.
Lampard prides himself on giving players a chance to play when they deserve it. Just because Hudson-Odoi is an academy graduate, he does not have a God-given right to play for Chelsea. Mount has earned minutes and so has Pulisic. Now, it's up to Hudson-Odoi to do the same.
Source : 90min