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).

[ PREVIEW: Brazil v. Mexico in U-17 World Cup final ]

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.

[ MORE: Barcelona, Lionel Messi negotiating a new deal ]

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.

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.

Champions League preview: Chelsea, Liverpool hit the road

Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images
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Frank Lampard has a selection headache amongst his wingers as he tries to figure out Chelsea’s best avenue to break down Ajax on Wednesday in the UEFA Champions League.

Youngsters Callum Hudson-Odoi and Christian Pulisic starred in the Blues’ weekend win, and Lampard also has Pedro and Willian available at Johan Cruyff Arena before a weekend visit to Burnley.

[ MORE: Dest choosing side this week ]

From ChelseaFC.com:

“Callum gave me that in his display from the start and Christian gave me that in his display coming on, and in terms of the wingers I have, Willian gave me that, Pedro gives me that so I have good selection problems when people come on and make a difference. That is what we are all about.

“The extra level that is the Champions League, the detail, the focus, concentration for 90 minutes, making the most of tiny moments, will be a test for all the young players, not just Callum.”

The good news for Pulisic in his bid to match wits with fellow USMNT (for now) player Sergino Dest is that he’s had experience on the UCL stage with Borussia Dortmund.

The other PL side in action is Liverpool, and the Reds will be expecting to get all three points in Belgium against Genk.

But Genk drew Napoli 0-0 at home on the second match day and the Reds will be wary of a slip-up.

“It’s a really good football-playing team,” said Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp. “They are organized and brave in their positioning. They don’t play with the pressing line too much but go for second balls, have speed and good midfielders and very active full-backs.”

Klopp will not have Trent Alexander-Arnold (illness) and Joel Matip (knee).

Other highlights…

— American manager Jesse Marsch hopes to lead Red Bull Salzburg to a home win over Napoli when he matches wits with Carlo Ancelotti.

Antonio Conte‘s Inter Milan could really use a result against tricky Borussia Dortmund in Italy.

UEFA Champions League Wednesday schedule

12:55 p.m. ET
Ajax v. Chelsea
RB Leipzig v. Zenit Saint-Petersburg

3 p.m. ET
Slavia Prague v. Barcelona
Red Bull Salzburg v. Napoli
Genk v. Liverpool
Inter Milan v. Borussia Dortmund
Lille v. Valencia
Benfica v. Lyon

AT HALF: Chelsea, Arsenal lead; Wolves holding Man City

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We’ve got goals in two of three 9 a.m. ET kickoffs in the Premier League, as David Luiz and Mason Mount goals have Arsenal and Chelsea leading at the break.

[ STREAM: Man City-Wolves ]

[ STREAM: Arsenal-Bournemouth ]

[ STREAM: Southampton-Chelsea ]

Man City still waits for a breakthrough, and honestly Wolves have looked closer to scoring at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday.


Man City 0-0 Wolves

The best chances have been produced by City… for Wolves. A bad Riyad Mahrez giveaway forced a double stop from Fernandinho at the back. Man City settled into possession over the half’s final 30 minutes or so, but no goals yet at the Etihad.

Arsenal 1-0 Bournemouth

David Luiz turned a near-post corner kick from Nicolas Pepe back across goal and inside the far post to give the Gunners their lead.

Southampton 1-3 Chelsea

Tammy Abraham collected a Callum Hudson-Odoi long ball and chipped Angus Gunn after working Maya Yoshida 1v1. Pretty stuff, and Jan Bednarek of Saints helped the Blues to another with a flubbed clearance to help Willian feed Mason Mount for 2-0.

Danny Ings has pulled a goal back for the hosts, but N’Golo Kante restored the 2-goal advantage before the break.

Lampard: Hard work, not price tag, will change Pulisic’s lack of playing time

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Christian Pulisic remains a talking point in London for undesirable reasons.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays

Yet again, Chelsea’s Frank Lampard was asked about Christian Pulisic’s lack of playing time. Yet again, the 41-year-old let it be known that the American – like some of his teammates – is going to have to “show” in training or on the field that he is “worthy” of playing time, adding that his lucrative price tag alone doesn’t guarantee him anything.

“One of my problems in this job is that I have good players and everyone has their story – Christian has a price-tag, Ross Barkley is an international player, so too is Mason Mount,” Lampard said ahead of Sunday’s game against Southampton. “Callum Hudson-Odoi has just signed a new contract, Bayern Munich wanted to buy him, he is an international player, Ruben Loftus-Cheek will come back and be an international player… and I can’t pick them all in the game, unfortunately.”

“All I have to demand of them is that they show me in training or show me in the game, when they get the chances to play, that they are worthy of their place,” he added.

After featuring in Chelsea’s first five games of the season, the 21-year-old has yet to take the field in Premier League play since late August. Midweek, he was omitted from Lampard’s 18-man Champions League list. Throughout the dry spell, Pulisic has only seen playing time in League Cup play, specifically 90 minutes in the Blue’s 7-1 rout of Grimsby Town in which he contributed an assist.

But only days later, following the Blue’s 2-0 win over Brighton and Hove Albion, Pulisic, himself, admitted to ProSoccerTalk’s own Joe Prince-Wright that his lack of playing time was “very frustrating.”

To many, if Pulisic fails to gain minutes at this pace, the conundrum between him and Lampard will continue to worsen.

The Chelsea boss, accounting for Pulisic’s age, recent arrival to England, assimilation to the league, sees the American’s lack of playing time with a different lens. If anything, the winger’s five appearances thus far should be seen as a positive.

“I spoke to Christian two days before the Grimsby game and was very clear about the standards,” Lampard admitted. “And we have to give him the fact he has moved country, leagues and is as young as all the young players we are talking about.”

“He has just turned 21,” he added. “So if anyone is getting too excited about this, they should calm down, frankly, because he has already started five games for us.”

If Pulisic has any hopes of getting a grip on playing time, he’s going to need to do two things: put in hard work and follow Callum Hudson-Odoi’s footsteps, who Lampard praised for responding to criticism positively.

“What he needs to do is work daily, and work to show within the group that he deserves to play – as all the players do,” the Chelsea legend said.

“I’ve been really pleased with Callum’s response to criticism and that has to continue,” he added. “We can all focus on Pulisic, but Callum’s the same. I have to speak in the real world when I speak to them.”

Until then, it’s unlikely Pulisic’s undesirable situation at Stamford Bridge will end, despite his price tag.