He finds himself reduced to the bench, with Frank Lampard trusting his academy disciples’ to get the job done instead. Failing to start with such a big price-tag over his head is inviting doubts, even though his manager has backed him to take time adapting to the Premier League’s intensity.
Nonetheless, Pulisic isn’t getting the playing time he–or his American fans–would like to see. This happened to him last season at Borussia Dortmund as Jadon Sancho emerged as the German squad’s top attacking option.
The good news for Pulisic is he’s not the first high-priced player to take time adapting to the Premier League. Liverpool’s defensive center-mid Fabinho struggled to earn minutes and find quality on the pitch early last season. He’s now one of the first names on the sheet.
Here are three things Pulisic can do to break into Chelsea’s starting XI.
1. Be More Clever With His Movement
While he might have all the technical skill in the world, Pulisic will never be able to win over Lampard unless he starts working harder. He can’t expect to be prioritized ahead of the others if he doesn’t display his work-rate in chasing down opponents, pressing them high up or intercepting possession in dangerous areas.
He must anticipate which opposition player to press or when to commit to challenges and win back possession. Perhaps he needs a dose of Mason Mount’s urgency in anticipating defenders’ frailties when distributing possession.
Moreover, rather than just trying to display his raw pace, he must be patient with moving into promising spaces so that those behind him can send him free through on goal. If he’s more relaxed and smarter in predicting the pockets of spaces to run into the final third, Pulisic should get more involved in their attacks.
2. Link-Up Better With Abraham & Co
Of course, transitioning from the Bundesliga to the Premier League is no easy feat. Both leagues are different in terms of tactical styles, atmospheres as well as the competitive level. Pulisic can’t be blamed for taking his time, but he must start creating chemistry with Chelsea’s regulars upfront. On atop the list is the in-form Tammy Abraham, who’s scoring whenever he pleases in his breakout season.
The American International must work harder alongside him in training, getting to know his strengths & weaknesses thoroughly. If he creates that intuitive bond, there won’t be stopping him from supplying deadly passes for Abraham to finish. Not only Tammy, but he also must work on building partnerships with Mount, Jorginho, N’Golo Kante along with the full-backs.
Being able to connect better with them will help him build his way into getting into goal-scoring situations. If Pulisic wants to start regularly, he must synchronize himself to their quick-paced style and implement more finesse to his link-up play.
3. Start Operating More Centrally
So we all know that Christian Pulisic is naturally a winger. However, he has all the traits of being a successful playmaker or #10 for club & country. His creativity has really been amplified since joining Lampard’s side. In the modern-day tactics, wingers are compelled to move more centrally in a bid for try scoring or creating chances more often.
With Chelsea opting for overlapping wing-backs in Marcos Alonso and Cesar Azpilicueta, it gives Puliisc enough freedom to roam into the middle. His impressive assist for Michy Batshuayi recently proves how slick his final-delivery is from central areas. Pulisic also boasts better expected assists per game than Chelsea’s regular attackers, which proves how distinctive his creative vision is.
Moreover, he could also make more penetrative runs inside the box and try taking more shots on goal to start scoring for the Blues. He could show off all he wants down the wing, but Pulisic’s real contribution is when operating through the middle which he should do to add another dimension to Chelsea’s attack.