Christian Pulisic Still Hasn’t Reached His True Potential at Chelsea

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The story of Christian Pulisic at Chelsea is a very complicated one, and now is probably the correct time to examine it. (Why not? A bunch of other soccer websites are doing, right now, as well). Chelsea, and the rest of the Premier League, are on winter break while the United States Men’s National Team is about to commence a pivotal stretch of World Cup Qualifiers.

Captain America is the first ever Yankee to play a major role for a giant club. We’ve seen yanks play smaller roles at giant clubs, and seen some major stars at midsize or smaller clubs, but never anyone like Pulisic.

Right now, he’s added a lot of value to a Chelsea side that’s recently been beset by injuries and the coronavirus. A natural left-sided attacking midfielder, Pulisic has been playing at his real position, but he’s also spent some time as a false nine and as a central forward up top.

Most of the time that he’s playing out of position it’s been at wing back, so you literally have a forward playing defender in southwest London. While that’s great for Thomas Tuchel and his team, it’s not optimal for Pulisic as an individual. You can see the detrimental effect it’s had on him in his stats.

Chelsea News did a piece on how Pulisic, as well as Kai Havertz, have seen their offensive statistics plummet.

They write of “non-penalty expected goals plus assists (per 90) on FBRef gives perhaps the most well rounded view of who is helping the team in attack.”

The article points out that Pulisic and Havertz rank at the bottom in this category. Despite recent goal-scoring droughts, it’s both surprising and disappointing, because Pulisic was Chelsea’s most creative and inspirational individual attacking player during the back half of 2019-20.

Once he recovered from that nasty adductor strain, for which he was aided by the three month shut down and quarantine, he was dominant. During the Project Restart period, he was as special a player as just about anyone in the PL.

So we’ve seen what he can do, when healthy and in his proper role, with quality consistent playing time.

And he does it against the Liverpools and the Manchester Citys of the world too. Obviously, the elephant in the room with him is injury, and we already mentioned one. Goal did a good analysis of this aspect, listing out all seven of his injuries and how much time that he’s missed, combined, at Stamford Bridge from all of them.

According to their records, he’s missed 38 games with the Blues. And this was the main takeaway from the deep dive we did on this site’s podcast, After Extra Time.

Probably the best episode in the history of our pod, we had one of the leaders of the Chelsea Atlanta supporters group on. Pulisic rejects the notion that he’s injury prone, but then again what athlete wouldn’t!

We’ve written about the 23-year-old Hershey, Pennsylvania native and former Borussia Dortmund man more than any other individual.

Our main conclusion after all this analysis and over-analysis?

He has a seat at the table at Chelsea, but is that enough?

Why not be the head fo the table?

Paul M. Banks is the owner/manager of The Bank (TheSportsBank.Net) and author of “Transatlantic Passage: How the English Premier League Redefined Soccer in America,” as well as “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry.”

He has regularly appeared in WGNSports Illustrated and the Chicago Tribune, and co-hosts the After Extra Time podcastFollow him on Twitter and Instagram

Comments

  1. neither have werner, havertz, lukaku.
    if only they were so patient with managers

  2. Great point Emil! spot on

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  1. […] in selling that card until Pulisic can consistently stay healthy enough to produce the number of goals and assists that would see him live up to his tremendous hype. If/when I do, will that company still be […]

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