Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri watched his side ease to a comfortable 3-0 win over lowly Brighton to move to fifth in the Premier League and then heaped praise on teen ace Callum Hudson-Odoi. The starlet, aged just 18, and who already has two caps for England, made his first top-flight start in the victory against Chris Hughton’s side.
The Blues enjoyed a stroll at Stamford Bridge with the visitors failing to seriously trouble the home side. France striker Olivier Giroud tucked away Hudson-Odoi’s cross to make it 1-0, before Eden Hazard curled in from the edge of the area from Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s pass to double the advantage. Then Loftus-Cheek sealed the deal when he grabbed a super goal from 25-yards.
Sarri, who has come under plenty of criticism among fans and pundits for various odd tactical and selection choices, rested the likes of Eden Hazard from the starting line-up in the 2-1 win on Sunday at Cardiff, but the Belgian was in from the beginning this time of asking.
And Italian coach Sarri said: “After 50 matches it’s very difficult to play every three days. We needed to change. We’re lucky because Callum is doing very well. Loftus has no problem with his back for the first time this season. Giroud is in a good period.” And Sarri said specifically of Hudson-Odoi: “Callum played very well and defended very well. He has improved during the season a lot. He’s ready to play 90 minutes in very important matches.”
Giroud was delighted that Hudson-Odoi provided the cross from which he netted. He added: “I just said to Callum when you have the opportunity to cross have the first post as your first intention. I know he loves to dribble past his defender on the outside and after cross strongly to the first post, so yeah, we’ve done well. It was a good cross and a good finish I have to say. I had to kick it in the air because the keeper was on the ground. It was tight, but I was happy for the team and myself.
“He is working well in training. He is improving. He has got huge potential. He’s still young and I am sure he will become a top, top player. He needs to play more games but it’s coming. He is a very good player but a good man as well in the dressing room. I like his mentality, so England can be happy to have him.”
Giroud is now looking towards the next league game when the Blues host West Ham on Monday night, and he added: “We need to keep it up. It was not our best game in Cardiff, but we showed some great team character. Against Brighton we wanted a clean sheet and to be efficient up front, and that’s what we did. We scored nice goals, it’s good for the future. We need momentum now and we already have another game on Monday at home again, so we need a win again.”