After missing the start of the season with a thigh injury, the USMNT star is ready to take the Premier League by storm again
Pulisic had arrived from Borussia Dortmund before the 2019/20 season and was largely limited to a substitute in West London. In fact, I hadn’t played a league game in two months.
However, by the final whistle in Lancashire, Premier League fans had a better understanding of why Pulisic had received such rave reviews in Germany.
The 22-year-old scored a perfect hat trick to record the first triple of his career and give his new club a 3-0 win over Sean Dyche’s side.
This achievement sparked the most productive phase in Pulisic’s career to date. The US national team star eventually scored eleven goals in all competitions, along with his ten assists.
Just over a year later, Pulisic and Chelsea return to Turf Moor on Saturday for a replay and result.
Like last season, Pulisic has yet to prove his full potential in 2020-21, although this time around he is recovering from a hamstring injury in the FA Cup final rather than slowly being introduced to a new environment.
He’s part of a new Chelsea attack that hasn’t really been successful yet, although it is hoped he can be the catalyst to get the most out of the likes of Timo Werner and Kai Havertz.
The first signs are good. Wednesday’s 4-0 win against Krasnodar in the Champions League is the surest sign that Pulisic can be the key to unlocking the enormous potential in the club’s new line of strikers.
When Pulisic came into play with Frank Lampard’s side just about to hold the 1-0 lead, he put on a grueling defense that was involved in all three of the blues late goals.
Seconds after he got off the bench, he shot the ball into Alyaksandr Martynovich’s arm to win a penalty that Werner hit home.
He then took possession of the ball and drove up the field before playing in Werner, who in turn prepared Hakim Ziyech for his first Chelsea goal.
Pulisic rounded off the goal himself, leaving ex-Chelsea midfielder Joe Cole enthusiastic about his return to the first team.
“This boy is a real talent,” said Cole BT Sport After the game. “It was a big mistake not to have him at the beginning of the season.
“I would say he’s one of the most important players in Chelsea’s attacking third because he can do anything. He can dribble, run without a ball, get in and score goals. Frank will be delighted. ”
It would have been unheard of for Pulisic 12 months ago to receive such praise.
Lampard’s decision to largely withhold him was seen by some as a sign that the former England international wasn’t sure Pulisic was good enough for a Chelsea club.
Even Jesse Marsch, the highly respected American coach at Red Bull Salzburg believed this was the case after a conversation with Lampard last season that made him a little worried about the blues boss’s plans for his large sum of money.
“When I talked to him [Lampard] In the preseason a year ago I spoke to him about Christian Pulisic, “said Marsch Extratime Radio In a recent interview he said, “Yes, he has a lot to learn, so we’ll see how he’s doing.”
“I said to him: ‘Look, he was in Dortmund and they had a lot of tactical thinking, of games and he was very successful.’
“He was considered one of the best young players in Germany, and that belongs to a group of players with Timo Werner, Kai Havertz, Joshua Kimmich and such players.
“Not just because he was talented, but also because he understood the tactics and knew how to fit into the game, and he developed a really smart way of playing.
“I could immediately see that Frank Lampard’s idea of Christian Pulisic was strongly influenced by the fact that he was American and not that his football education depends heavily on what happened in Germany.”
Lampard refutes Marsch’s assumption and said at a press conference on Thursday that he “always rated Pulisic” while responding to a question from Torwhy he withheld the wideman at first.
“I trained in the Premier League and played in the Premier League for almost 20 years. I understand the hardships, ”he said. “That brings me to Christian’s development last year. It’s clearly the toughest league to play as a young player.
“It’s not just Christian – some of the greatest players in Premier League history, whether from America or Europe, have shown it.
“What Christian did was gain a foothold very quickly and have a breakthrough season in the Premier League where he scored more goals and assists than he produced [previously].
“His performance last year was tremendously impressive on its own, but he keeps getting better because he’s a young player. I never doubted him. ”
Lampard’s increased confidence in Pulisic after his Burnley hat-trick was certainly not out of place, although the American didn’t start delivering consistently until after the Premier League’s forced break in the spring.
Pulisic had a direct hand in nine goals in just eleven games after being suspended to enable Chelsea to reach the cup final and secure Champions League football with a top four result.
So strong were Pulisic’s performances that some suggested he would reach the level of the man he was supposed to replace Eden Hazard and if he can maintain that form now he is back in high gear then Chelsea’s attack could really end take off, start, take off, drive off.
Lampard has yet to find the best configuration for his mass of strikers, but one thing is clear: Pulisic will play a key role.
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