Pulisic and Willian Brilliant for Chelsea Despite Disastrous Result


Wingers Christian Pulisic and Willian bossed tonight’s game against West Ham United just like they bossed it against Manchester City. However, this time two Blues wide attacking players didn’t get much help, and the result was polar opposite.

Less than a week after the knocking off Man City and ending their two year title run, Chelsea fell 3-2 to a West Ham side that’s struggling to stay out of the drop zone. Given the recent form of the two sides heading into this clash at the London Stadium, it was an outcome few would have foreseen.

Willian converted a penalty, won by Pulisic, to open the scoring and later added another scoring strike from open play, but it wasn’t enough. Chelsea had issues everywhere in the back line, getting subpar play from both the full backs and the central defenders.

Kepa Arrizabalaga once again struggled, and he continued failing to fulfill the promise of his record setting price tag. Manager Frank Lampard failed to single out the defense as the cause for this defeat, but it was clear to anyone watching that they were the weakest link of this team on Wednesday.

“No, we weren’t let down by the defenders,” he said in post-game.

“We made mistakes in the buildup to the goals, not just the defenders, which cost us the game. I wouldn’t call it a wake-up call because every game is different.”

“We’ve got six games ahead of us now and if you play in the Premier League and you make mistakes, if you dominate possession and don’t quite do enough with it at the top end of the pitch, then it can happen.”

“That’s something we already knew.”

Chelsea had 71% possession and 17 shots, but was obviously far too wasteful to get the win. Lampard did once again have plenty of praise for Pulisic though. The way the American is playing, you can see why Lampard has referred to him as inspirational during this restart, and even said he believes the 21-year-old could be on the same level as Raheem Sterling, Sadio Mane or Mo Salah someday.

“It is a big positive. He is playing well, as we can all see,” Lampard said of Pulisic.

“I thought him and Willian as wingers, who gets his two goals, but with Christian I think we all saw it during the season when he had a patch running up to and around Christmas, when he was playing towards this kind of level as well.”

“Then he got injured and he’s been out for a long time.”

“It is nice to see him back fresh and hungry and playing with the qualities he has. He’s going to get better. He’s a young player with great talent.”

Pulisic has been in fine form, and Chelsea have signed two big name, majorly talented attacking players this summer to beef up the final third.

However, tonight brought a chance to go third, and it didn’t happen because they were weak at the back. Unless they strengthen the defense this summer, they won’t be moving up into the same realm as City and Liverpool.

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, the author of “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” regularly contributes to WGN TV, Sports Illustrated, Chicago Now and SB Nation.

You can follow Banks, a former writer for Chicago Tribune.comon Twitter and his cat on Instagram.
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