Callum Hudson-Odoi

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Southgate to rest stars, give youth a chance v. Kosovo

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With qualification to the 2020 European Championship secured earlier this week, England manager Gareth Southgate is set to rest most of his star players in favor of giving a number of younger players a chance to impress when the Three Lions take on Kosovo in Pristina on Sunday (12 p.m. ET).

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According to a report from Sky Sports, Harry Kane and Marcus Rashford will be rested to make way for Chelsea youngsters Tammy Abraham (four caps) and Callum Hudson-Odoi (two caps). Finally given a chance to play regular minutes for the Blues, Abraham has already scored 10 goals in 12 Premier League appearances this season. The 22-year-old former journeyman loanee scored his first England goal in the 7-0 thrashing of Montenegro on Thursday. Hudson-Odoi is yet to score in PL play this season, but has shown well following his return from a ruptured achilles late last season.

John Stones and Jordan Pickford will be moved to the bench after starting against Montenegro. They will likely be replaced by Aston Villa’s Tyrone Mings and Burnley’s Nick Pope. Mings has made just one appearance for England, while Pope would be making his first start. Stones is seen as having taken on an excessive workload this season due to the ongoing defensive injury crisis at Manchester City.

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Jordan Henderson and Joe Gomez departed England camp on Saturday, due to illness and injury respectively. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Declan Rice and Mason Mount could start in midfield with James Maddison (calf) and injury doubt.

Another Chelsea youngster, 21-year-old Fikayo Tomori, is also said to be in line for his first England cap, most likely as a late-game substitute along the backline.

Ox, Hudson-Odoi in England squad; Grealish left out

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Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Callum Hudson-Odoi have been recalled to the England squad after lengthy spells out due to the injury.

England play against Montenegro and Kosovo on Nov. 14 and Nov. 17 respectively. A point against Montenegro will secure England’s qualification to EURO 2020 next summer.

AOC and CHO have both battled their way back to full fitness in recent months and the attacking midfielders have been rewarded with recalls to the Three Lions setup as Hudson-Odoi last featured in March and Oxlade-Chamberlain had a brief return in September.

There is however no place for Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish, as the midfielder is nursing a minor injury and didn’t feature in their defeat against Liverpool last weekend.

James Maddison has been called up by Southgate once again, as he is yet to make his debut and didn’t feature last month as he pulled out of the squad due to illness. Much was made about Maddison being spotted in a casino days later, but Southgate has rewarded the Leicester City playmaker for his fine form.

There are some injury concerns for England with Chelsea’s Ross Barkley and Mason Mount struggling with knocks, while Jordan Henderson is suspended for the game against Montenegro.

Below is the squad in full.


England national team squad

Goalkeepers: Tom Heaton (Aston Villa), Jordan Pickford (Everton), Nick Pope (Burnley)

Defenders: Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Ben Chilwell (Leicester), Joe Gomez (Liverpool), Harry Maguire (Manchester United), Tyrone Mings (Aston Villa), Danny Rose (Tottenham), John Stones (Manchester City), Fikayo Tomori (Chelsea), Kieran Trippier (Atletico Madrid)

Midfielders: Ross Barkley (Chelsea), Fabian Delph (Everton), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), James Maddison (Leicester City), Mason Mount (Chelsea), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Liverpool), Declan Rice (West Ham), Harry Winks (Tottenham)

Forwards: Tammy Abraham (Chelsea), Callum Hudson-Odoi (Chelsea), Harry Kane (Tottenham), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), Callum Wilson (Bournemouth)

Pulisic: ‘I feel confident but the hard work does not stop now for me’

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Another victory for Chelsea, another league goal for Christian Pulisic.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Red-hot Chelsea – now third in the Premier League table – edged winless Watford 2-1 at Vicarage Road, and Captain America picked off right where he left off: scoring the decisive goals for Frank Lampard‘s side, who has in-form players to spare.

But even four goals – all which have come in the last two league games – and two assists later, the 21-year-old American is far from being the player who is going to rest on his laurels, and justifiably so. To the BBC:

“I want to make an impact for the team and I am enjoying it a lot,” Pulisic said following the Blues’ eighth consecutive league victory. “I feel confident but the hard work does not stop now for me.” 

“It is so much fun to play with these guys up front who help me so much,” he added.

From start to finish, Chelsea, fresh off  a cup loss against Manchester United midweek, controlled the tempo on Saturday against Watford, who are far from forming an identity in Quique Sanchez Flores’ second spell at the club.

Still, as the game began to come to an end, the Hornets desire to finish strong in front of the home crowd, coupled with some complacency from Chelsea, caused for a close-call ending.

“We played really well, our midfield was outstanding, but we just cannot have that sloppy bit near the end,” Lampard admitted following his team’s win. “It was a terrible 10 minutes considering how the game had gone. We need to be more clinical, we got a bit sloppy.

“We rely on our goalkeeper for those moments at the end of the game and he did what we needed him to do,” he added. “I am happy with how the players are playing. It’s great to watch.”

It was during those final ten minutes that Watford’s Gerard Deulofeu converted from the spot, following what Pulisic calls a “soft penalty” call.

“Those last five or 10 minutes felt like a really long time,” Pulisic said. “In the second half we felt like we were dominating. We needed to get a third to put the game away but then we gave away a soft penalty in my opinion.”

Coming off in the 83rd minute for Callum Hudson-Odoi, Pulisic shot on target in three different occasions. Out of the bunch, however, only a lightly tap-in inside a few yards from the white line proved to be enough to go past Ben Forster and into the back of the net. That needs to change, according to the crafty winger.

“We had opportunities to put the game away but we gave a penalty and they made it close at the end,” he added. “The penalty seemed to come from nowhere and that’s why we needed to score more goals.”

With this latest sample size, though, there are plenty of context clues to guess where Chelsea’s goals are going to be coming from in the games to come.

At this point, if your guess is Captain America, you’re probably playing it safe.

Pulisic Watch: His moments from Chelsea’s 5th-straight win

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Christian Pulisic followed up his Premier League hat trick with another goal and some fine dribbling numbers (4-for-4) over 83 minutes of a 2-1 win over Watford at Vicarage Road on Saturday.

[ MORE: Match recap ]

Chelsea has now won five-straight league matches and sits third in the PL with 23 points.

15th minute: Mostly relegated to runs off the ball aside from a final third back heel flick, Pulisic is caught in possession and Watford springs a proper counter attack to end with a Caballero save.

19th minute: Heads Willian‘s corner toward the back post, but Ben Foster leaps backward to make a fantastic fingertip save.

35th minute: Combines with Willian en route to winning a corner.

Halftime: A quiet enough half in terms of danger — aside from the header — ends with Pulisic registering 32 touches, 86 percent passes, a tackle, and 5 of 7 duels won.

49th minute: Sees one-touch pass blocked to Deulofeu, but hustles back to win ball back deep in final third.

54th minute: Slips Mount toward the end line but it’s a bit too long and goes out of play. Then takes layoff from Mount which is a step behind him and has the ball taken off him.

55th minute: GOOOOOOAAAL

58th minute: Played down the left side, Pulisic take two touches to get Christian Kabasele to commit before his drive across goal is denied place inside the far post by Foster.

70th minute: Pulisic tricks Daryl Janmaat, and the Dutch fullback is shown a yellow card for his choice.

83rd minute: Watford having pulled a goal back, Pulisic is withdrawn for Callum Hudson-Odoi to decent applause from the visiting fans and a pat on the head from Frank Lampard.

Final stat line: 83 minutes, 1 goal, 66 touches, 85 percent passing, 3 shots on target, 4-for-4 successful dribbles, 8 of 11 duels won, 2 aerials won, 1 tackle, 1 drawn foul. Arguably a MOTM line.

PL Preview: Watford v. Chelsea

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  • Chelsea has six away wins in a row, one off its club record
  • Watford has never failed to win any of its first 11 league games
  • The 12 PL meetings between these 2 clubs have featured 40 goals

Chelsea could equal its club record of seven successive away victories across all competitions as they visit Vicarage Road to take on Watford at 1:00 p.m. ET on Saturday, live on NBCSN or live online at NBCSports.com.

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE HERE

The Blues are in spectacular league form, winning four straight Premier League matches by a combined 11-3 scoreline, including two clean sheets and two four-goal performances. Frank Lampard‘s youth revolution necessitated by the transfer ban has been a smashing success, with young players like Christian Pulisic, Mason Mount, Callum Hudson-Odoi, and Fikayo Tomori all contributing to the results.

Watford, meanwhile, sits bottom of the league table thanks to the deadly combination of a leaky defense and a toothless attack, unable to put it together on both ends of the pitch at the same time. They have yet to win a Premier League match this season, and one more failure to secure three points would mark the first time in any league campaign that Watford failed to win any of its first 11 matches. The Hornets have improved defensively of late, conceding just one goal in their last three matches, but at the cost of the attacking threat, scoring just once in that span as well.

Injuries/suspensions

Watford: QUESTIONABLE – Isaac Success. OUT – Troy Deeney, Etienne Capoue, Danny Welbeck, Tom Cleverley.

Chelsea: QUESTIONABLE – None. OUT – N’Golo Kante, Antonio Rudiger (hip).


Projected lineups

Watford: Foster; Holebas, Dawson, Cathcart, Janmaat; Doucoure, Hughes; Deulofeu, Chalobah, Pereyra; Gray.

Chelsea: Arrizabalaga; Alonso, Zouma, Christensen, Azpilicueta; Jorginho, Kovacic; Pulisic, Mount, Willian; Abraham.


What they’re saying

Watford manager Quique Sanchez Flores on current form: “It has been a lot of work, trying to get everybody together, to make sure the boys understand our predicament and the difficulties that can affect a team in this kind of situation, and to give them confidence and find solutions to problems.”

Chelsea boss Lampard on Watford’s situation: “I’m very much of the mindset that games become more dangerous with overconfidence. We must understand Watford and their quality. Last season their personnel was similar and they were getting big results, they made the FA Cup final. We cannot underestimate a team that will be hurting because they have not won for a while. They will have every ambition to win this game, so I’m even more focused on what we need to do.”


Prediction

These are two teams at opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to form. Chelsea should easily shake off the EFL Cup loss to Manchester United and run this Watford team ragged, with a 4-0 victory sending them back to London flying.