Christian Pulisic gave a new ray of hope to Thomas Tuchel as Chelsea won the Club World Cup. Chelsea downed Brazilian side Palmeiras in the final to finally lift the only missing trophy from their cabinet. However, it wasn’t a cakewalk for Chelsea, as it was for previous European Clubs who contested in the continental tournament. Kai Havertz’s penalty in the 117th minute brought home the trophy for Chelsea.
But what was more depressive as well as impressive at the same time as Mason Mount’s injury and Christian Pulisic’s performance respectively. Mount came off right on the 30-minute mark after suffering an ankle injury. What followed was a surprising decision from Chelsea; bringing on Pulisic instead of Timo Werner or Hakim Ziyech who were more preferred recently. But Pulisic gave a scintillating performance for the remainder of the game.
Chelsea give Pulisic a new role against Palmeiras
When Mason Mount came off, everybody expected either Ziyech or Werner will replace him. But to everybody’s surprise as well as delight, Christian Pulisic came on. The American hadn’t played a minute for Chelsea in almost a month but still was chosen to play in a crucial game. Pulisic had always played on the wide for Chelsea, but this time around, he was deployed right behind Lukaku and Havertz. Pulisic played the natural number-10 role and excelled too. The American was a spark in the attack, constantly linking well with Romelu Lukaku. Lukaku too seemed to enjoy in Pulisic’s company, aggressively attacking the opposition’s goal, a sight which was quite rare in the last few games. Chelsea’s record signing pulled the Palmeiras center-backs off their positions with his runs, which created acres of space for Pulisic to exploit.
Pulisic recently talked about pushing himself to over-perform, and that was quite evident from his dribble success rate. The Chelsea attacker had a 67% of dribble completion rate and went in to contest a total of 13 duels. This shows his hunger to go all out against the opposition which he was talking about. Moreover, he finished the game with a 90% pass completion rate and was the most fouled player. Pulisic also played a part in breaking the Palmeiras’ flow of the game with 4 recoveries and a blocked shot. A somewhat new Pulisic was born, which massively benefited the unyielding Chelsea attack.
Pulisic’s frustration over lack of game-time
Christian Pulisic’s Chelsea career so far has been a tough one given his injury woes. The former Dortmund player has missed 42 games due to injuries since joining the Londoners. However, recently he was on a good run of playing consecutive games when Tuchel decided to drop him for the past month. When he was dropped for the club world cup semi-final, Pulisic thought enough was enough and publicly expressed his disappointment.
“I was very ready to play [against Al-Hilal]. I wanted to play so of course, I was upset that I didn’t. I’m feeling good and I don’t worry about injuries when I play or anything like that. There have been a lot of ups and downs. I have been on and off playing, different positions, kind of being moved around. It has been a tough ride for me personally, to be honest, and I am just trying to get back into some rhythm, get into the run of things.”
This recent experiment from Tuchel showed it can not only bring the best of Pulisic but also of their €113 million striker Romelu Lukaku. Since Lukaku’s signing, he has failed to produce at the same level as he did at Inter. The Belgian has only 10 goals in 27 appearances this season. Things got heated up when he blamed Tuchel for his poor form. In an unauthorized interview with Sky Italy, Lukaku said Tuchel’s system is quite opposite to his game and that he found the Intersystem more fruitful. Well after his apology things were sorted out, but this new Tuchel experiment could really benefit Lukaku. Pairing him up with Havertz in the attack, and Pulisic pulling the strings behind them could bring the best of all three of them and the Chelsea attack as well.
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