Frank Lampard will have a decision to make regarding winger positions ahead of the trip to Fulham — but he could send the ‘wrong’ message to his players by leaving out in-form Callum Hudson-Odoi for Christian Pulisic.
It was not long ago, the Blues were suffering with a ‘winger crisis’ following Hudson-Odoi’s and Hakim Ziyech’s hamstring injuries.
But now with the pair back in the team, Lampard is facing another problem — a good problem, most would say. Who would be the two starting wingers?
Lampard has three natural wingers at his disposal; Hudson-Odoi, Ziyech, and Pulisic, with the likes of Timo Werner and Kai Havertz also capable of operating on the flanks.
The one thing Lampard often emphasised since his arrival as a manager at Stamford Bridge is that he will pick players on merit.
“I completely pick the best team that I see to win the game regardless of age,” he told Chelsea TV back in September 2019.
“Yes, if young players are showing what they can do in training and deserve their chance, I will have no fears to play young players.
“Because it’s important for a club like Chelsea that we do that.”
It was arguably a key factor in Chelsea’s relatively successful campaign last term while facing the transfer ban.
Everyone worked hard to impress the manager every week because they knew they would have a chance to grab a spot in the starting line-up at the weekend.
Going back to the winger selection dilemma, Lampard could send an important message to the team with his team selection for Saturday’s trip to Fulham.
While Ziyech has arguably cemented his spot on the right wing since his left-footedness and diagonal balls offer different dimensions, it is not the case for the other side of the pitch.
Lampard has been rotating Hudson-Odoi, Pulisic, and Werner for the left-wing role.
But if anyone deserves to start against Fulham based on form, it’s Hudson-Odoi.
The 20-year-old has six goals and an assist so far in all competitions, including the two goals and an assist in the league.
Pulisic has just two goals this season in all competitions, netting just once in the league. The £58 million American (BBC Sport) started seven league games, compared to Hudson-Odoi’s two.
Pulisic has the flair and explosiveness that make him a very dangerous player in the final third, but he has not always delivered the expected end product so far this season.
The former Borussia Dortmund is more than capable of causing troubles for the Fulham defence, there is no doubt about that.
But benching in-form Hudson-Odoi would certainly send a bad message for the team.