Christian Pulisic has been on fire since the Premier League’s restart. He has banked three goals in five matches, leading Chelsea to third in the league. Manager Frank Lampard declared that Pulisic has, “Moved his game to another level,” in a recent post-match interview with Sky Sports.
The American’s recent performances have drawn comparisons to former Chelsea superstar Eden Hazard. So this begs the question: just how good is Pulisic? Is this an overreaction or is he the real deal?
He’s had a recent uptick in his goals, but his shot numbers have been great throughout the season. Pulisic has taken 3.25 shots per 90 minutes this season, fifth in the league among players with at least 1400 minutes, according to fbref.com.
That only means something if the shots he’s taking are good ones, and the data suggests that is the case. The American registers 0.46 non-penalty expected goal per 90 minutes, seventh in the league among players with at least 1400 minutes according to fbref.com. It’s hard to overstate how impressive that is, considering he is doing it from wide.
The two other aspects to focus on for a winger are their dribbling and creativity. Pulisic is still remarkable on the dribbling front. He completes 3.1 dribbles per 90 minutes, seventh in the league among players with at least 1400 minutes according to Whoscored.com. So, he has the dribbling numbers to compliment his ability to get shots.
He’s not quite as outstanding when it comes to his creativity. His 1.6 key passes per 90 minutes leaves him 30th in the league, according to Whoscored.com. That’s not necessarily bad, but it does not approach the level of his other qualities.
Pulisic’s statistical profile at Chelsea indicates that he is a shot monster, an impressive dribbler, but could use some work on his creativity. Based on that, the Hazard comparisons may not be entirely accurate. Hazard made more key passes in all of his seasons at Stamford Bridge, completed more dribbles in all but one of them and never took as many shots as Pulisic has this campaign.
His first season in London has been more in the mold of a Sadio Mane or Son Heung-min; a more direct, shot taking winger than a monster dribbler. It will be interesting to see if he continues in this direction. It is important to keep in mind that his 1468 minutes represent a significant sample, but not a definitive one.
At only 21-years-old, Pulisic could be the next Chelsea great, if he produces at this rate for full, future seasons. Whether he will remains to be seen, but the early signs are extremely encouraging.