Christian Pulisic Can Be a “decisive factor” vs Palace, Says Thomas Tuchel

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It’s certainly no secret that Christian Pulisic has struggled through an injury-riddled second season at Chelsea. He’s missed significant time due to a chronic hamstring injury which first reared its ugly head in the FA Cup final loss to Arsenal on August 1.

Even when fit, the 22-year-old has suffered a drop in form and a loss in confidence, has he just hasn’t looked himself much at all this term. However, he did score in the last league game, a very bad defeat to West Brom, and he hit the crossbar in midweek during the away win over FC Porto.

Chelsea FC at Crystal Palace FYIs

Kickoff: Sat April 10, Selhurst Park 12:30pm

Chelsea Starting XI Prediction: go here

Team News for Both Sides: go here

PL Position, Form Guide:  Chelsea 5th, LDWWD   Crystal Palace 12th, DWLDD

Odds:  Chelsea -189    Crystal Palace  +575     Draw  +280

This all followed up his man of the match performance in the FA Cup just before the international break, so maybe he’s turning the corner? Blues boss Thomas Tuchel says the American can be a “huge weapon” for Chelsea, once he overcomes his hamstring problems, and the confidence issues they caused.

The German says Pulisic can be a “decisive factor” off the bench against Crystal Palace today.

“Fitness is always important especially for Christian because he has this huge physical impact for us in the amount of sprints and the amount of intensity he can give to a team at then highest level,” Tuchel said.

“This is one of his biggest strengths. The other thing is that he need to feel confident and to feel calm, mentally, and then he can be a huge weapon for us.

“He scored in the last game against West Brom, unfortunately the overall game and his need to go off the pitch at half-time clouded the goal and the impact he could have had with that goal.

“But now again he was very close to scoring [against Porto], he had a huge impact from the bench. We have to take care about him, that he hopefully will not be re-injured because I feel him stronger and stronger, more and more self-confident.

“He can be a decisive factor in the next game with his speed, his ability to dribble and his ability to arrive in the box in dangerous situations.

“From balls from the side and crosses, he has the feeling to arrive and to score. So hopefully he can have that impact and it is our job to push him there, to calm his mind that he feels the trust and he feels confident.”

Prediction: Chelsea 1, Crystal Palace 0 

Expect the Blues to win, but it one should anticipate a struggle- a low scoring slugfest.

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank, partnered with News NowBanks, the author of “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” has regularly appeared in WGNSports IllustratedChicago Tribune and SB Nation. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

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