Our full December schedule is now:
Sevilla v Chelsea – Wednesday 2 December, 8pm – Champions League – BT Sport
Chelsea v Leeds – Saturday 5 December, 8pm – Premier League – Sky Sports
Chelsea v Krasnodar – Tuesday 8 December, 8pm – Champions League – BT Sport
Everton v Chelsea – Saturday 12 December, 8pm – Premier League – BT Sport
Wolves v Chelsea – Tuesday 15 December, 6pm – Premier League – Amazon Prime
Chelsea v West Ham – Monday 20 December, 8pm – Premier League – Sky Sports
Arsenal v Chelsea – Saturday 26 December, 5.30pm – Premier League – Sky Sports
Chelsea v Aston Villa – Monday 28 December, 5.30pm – Premier League – Amazon Prime
*All times are UK times
Ed Brand’s boys begin another Youth Cup run at home this weekend, less than a month after we concluded last season’s competition at the final stage at St George’s Park.
It’s been a busy week already for our youngsters, who were in Under-18 Premier League battle against Aston Villa on Saturday at Cobham before an entertaining Under-17 Premier League Cup tie against Southampton saw the young Blues lose out in a seven-goal thriller.
It will be a first Youth Cup meeting with the Tykes since February 2013, when Andreas Christensen, Nathan Ake and Ruben Loftus-Cheek featured in a 3-0 victory at Staines Town.
With little time to dwell on results, we have the chance to return to winning ways in the Youth Cup this weekend and you can support from home by following the live stream on the 5th Stand app or the official Chelsea website. Kick-off on Saturday is 2pm.
And that was it for the four-game group-stage qualifications until this week. In the time in between we won the Champions League in 2011/12, but famously it needed a big Drogba night against Valencia on matchday six to keep us in the competition, and the following year we did not even make it out of the group stage at all.
Happily, that was a one-off such slip by the Blues, and although we undoubtedly want to win Group E in 2020/21, Olivier Giroud’s late goal in Rennes means tension reduced for the two games to come, a rare but welcome luxury.
Hudson-Odoi’s first-half goal in Rennes was made in the Chelsea Academy, as the winger slotted home after fellow graduate Mason Mount had won the ball in midfield and picked out his run with a brilliant pass in behind. However, according to Hudson-Odoi, he never had any doubt his team-mate would produce that kind of assist.
‘I know Mason, he works really hard, he presses it well in the middle. As soon as he won the ball I thought to myself “take off” because I knew that I was in front of the full-back and I knew that he would find me straight away. His vision is amazing and he saw me straight away, which I was happy about, and I got in there and I scored a goal so I’m really happy.’
We didn’t have things all our own way at Roazhon Park, though, as some late drama saw Rennes equalise before Olivier Giroud’s injury-time header gave us victory. That win also made us the first team to qualify for the knockout stages of this season’s Champions League, quickly followed by Sevilla, Barcelona and Juventus.
‘It’s amazing,’ added Hudson-Odoi. ‘When we went out there, we knew that if we got the win we could be going through so we pushed and pushed and pushed until the end. It was unfortunate to concede a goal but we dug deep, got the extra goal at the end and we’re delighted to go through.’
Here is a look at some of the other Blues whom our French striker emulated when he nodded in his timely late goal in Brittany…
Wayne Bridge vs Arsenal, April 2004
The Blues had not won at Highbury for six years when we faced the Gunners in the Champions League quarter-finals in 2003/04. However, after Frank Lampard had cancelled out Jose Antonio Reyes’ opener for the hosts, Wayne Bridge charged down the left channel three minutes from time and exchanged a one-two with Eidur Gudjohnsen before tucking the ball into the bottom corner to secure a 2-1 victory and a spot in the last four.
It was Callum Hudson-Odoi’s goal midway through the first half that looked like it would secure us the three points needed to guarantee qualification with two games to spare, but our hosts Rennes got an equaliser with five minutes remaining. Thankfully, Giroud had other ideas!
The boss spoke about our French striker in his post-match video with Chelsea TV, which you can watch below.
The UK Government has announced plans for a limited number of supporters to begin returning to stadiums for elite sport events, including Premier League matches, from 2 December, dependent on the current Covid alert tier and corresponding restrictions in the local area.
Speaking after the victory over Rennes which secured our place in the Champions League knockout stages, Lampard discussed his excitement at the news and fears the changing rules for different parts of the country could produce an unfair advantage for some teams.
‘I think first and foremost we want fans back,’ he said. ‘I’m not sure exactly how the system will work, it’s something that needs to be discussed further, but what was really nice for me was the positive nature of the fact that there’s movement and something will happen if it feels safe.
‘That’s the most important thing because these are very uncertain times. So hopefully the level playing field remains, but we have some fans back and we move forward quickly.
‘I’m just happy with the news because there are a lot of things that have been disrupted in life recently, which are more important than football. But in football, just in terms of our jobs and playing in stadiums and wanting fans back for the atmosphere in football, what it means for the fans, it is becoming more and more apparent every game that we play. So, if safe, then of course we’re really happy.’
It was the youngster who opened the scoring against Rennes with a calm and collected finish midway through the first half, and his much more experienced team-mate that thundered home the header which sealed victory, and with it, a place in the last 16.
‘I’m very happy to qualify with two games to spare,’ said Lampard afterwards.
‘We want to try and top the group, but it was a really tough match for us. Rennes are an underrated team. We played well for big spells and it was a tough, hard-fought win for us.
‘We played really well in the first half-hour. The attitude of the players during tough times, a lot of defending against a big, physical team, and then the reaction after their goal. Our desire to try and score a winner, when we knew a draw wasn’t the worst result, made really happy. It shows the strength of the group. It has to continue.
‘The players that came on and made an impact and helped us win the game. That also strengthens the group as a whole.’
We travel to France to face Rennes for the second time this season, following our 3-0 win in the first game between the two sides in this season’s Champions League group stage.
But Rennes are far from the first French team we have met in Europe’s top club competition. Think you have a good memory of those previous matches? Prove it in our quiz!
If you fancy using that Chelsea knowledge to try to win some fantastic prizes while competing against your fellow Blues fans, don’t forget to enter the Play Predictor for Tuesday’s match.
Frank Lampard confirmed in his press conference prior to the flight that Kai Havertz and Thiago Silva would be part of the travelling party and could feature against the Frenchmen. Christian Pulisic, despite making progress in the last week, stays back.
The Blues could qualify for the last-16 with victory at Roazhon Park, combined with a Sevilla win against Krasnodar.
The travelling party, in squad number order, is: