After an uneasy start to his career at Chelsea, Christian Pulisic went on to have one of the brightest finishes in recent history. Following the three-month COVID-induced layoff, the young American returned a new man.
He tallied five goals and six assists in eight starts since the restart, singlehandedly changing the game on many occasions. It is very possible that without Pulisic, as well as Olivier Giroud, the Blues would not be in the Champions League this season.
So with one season in the books, how will Pulisic fare in his second season?
Christian Pulisic: Predicting the American’s Second Season
A Successful Return From Injury
A hamstring injury sustained in the FA Cup final caused Pulisic to miss the Bayern Munich game (although it wouldn’t have changed much anyway) and the recovery timetable given was six weeks.
Interestingly enough, Chelsea’s season opener against Brighton & Hove Albion comes exactly six weeks after his injury against Arsenal. Starting him would certainly be a gamble, one which manager Frank Lampard will likely not be willing to take. He needs to properly return from his injury so as not to aggravate it, which would cost his side dearly.
Chelsea’s second match of the year is against defending champions Liverpool, so it’s unlikely that his season debut will be in such a competitive match, but he should be good to go after that.
The 21-year-old must start off on the right foot this season, and show that this injury has not hampered his progress. He was in such good form at the end of last season that the fans expect a bright start, and he expects it of himself, really.
Pulisic has high aspirations, and while he takes it one game at a time, he always pushes himself to perform and acknowledges when he doesn’t. He’s a very humble kid, and that mentality will take him far in his career.
For now, just keeping working, recover nicely, stay fit, and when the time comes, show you haven’t lost that extra gear you found during the restart.
Link-Up With New Star-Studded Teammates
Playing with Giroud, Willian and Mason Mount is by no means having underperforming teammates, but the players Pulisic will be lining up with this season are a class above.
Timo Werner, Hakim Ziyech and Kai Havertz all joined Chelsea in the summer, with all of them coming off excellent seasons with their respective clubs. Three different stars and leaders of their respective teams are moving to a new club where they will no longer be the main man; the same goes for Pulisic as well.
If the four of them click, which everything suggests they will do, Chelsea will have a formidable attacking lineup this season. With academy products such as Tammy Abraham, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Mount on the bench, this is a very deep squad.
However, it’s clear Pulisic now has teammates that are at the elite level, just like him, so he will no longer be relied upon to carry the team offensively. It’ll be fascinating to see how he adjusts his game to play with the three other stars, as well as how they adjust theirs to play with him.
Lock Down the Starting Role
During the restart he may have been the first name on the team sheet, but this coming season will be different.
First, he is missing pre-season, so he will be joining the squad late, once other players have already been training and playing in matches. He also has a host of new signings to compete with for playtime, even with Willian and Pedro gone.
Especially with Lampard’s training-based meritocracy, Pulisic might not have the starting left-wing job at the start of the season. He will have to earn his way back into the team through hard work, something he’s no doubt accustomed to.
With Werner, Hudson-Odoi, Havertz, and Mount all capable of playing his position, the American’s performance level must not drop, and he must continue to justify his value to the team. This will earn him a consistent starting role, which in a team like this is certain to bring goals and assists.
Christian Pulisic Can Establish Himself as a Premier League Star
Ever since he arrived, Pulisic has been touted as Chelsea’s replacement for Eden Hazard. Those comparisons are not justifiable yet, but the truth is he has done even better in his first season than the Belgian did in his.
Hazard was pure magic; his creativity, vision and skill were off the charts. However, one thing he sometimes seemed to lack was that bit of selfishness all good attackers have.
Not that being a selfish player is in any way a good thing. By selfishness, it’s referring to that willingness to create chances for himself, as well as setting them up for others, but most importantly the directness and sense of urgency to get yourself into a goalscoring position.
Whereas Hazard relied on his inch-perfect accuracy, both in the shot and the pass and impeccable decision-making, Pulisic is more simple-minded at times. His lightning-quick pace and his ability to keep the ball on a string means he can just put his head down and drive against opposing defences.
It terrifies them to bits and can tear them to shreds, and it’s Pulisic’s biggest threat to an opponent. Not that his passing isn’t great (his assist to Olivier Giroud against Norwich City showed that), but he has other, more dangerous qualities.
If he keeps up this electrifying play, Pulisic will be right up there with the best in the league, and he could establish himself as a top-three winger in the Premier League.
All in all, Pulisic’s next season will be a big one. If all goes well, it’s the season where he kicks on and finally becomes that star player he’s been threatening to become ever since his Dortmund days.
Even at around £50 million, Chelsea have a bargain in Christian Pulisic.