Analysing Christian Pulisic's return to form at Chelsea

Analysing Christian Pulisic's return to form at Chelsea

It has been a frustrating season for Christian Pulisic, as he has been hampered by injuries. His lack of regular minutes has also been caused by the increased competition in the squad. The managerial change at Chelsea has provided another obstacle for the American, as Thomas Tuchel is giving everybody a chance to prove themselves. The attacker was one of two players in the squad to have previously worked with the German head coach, but that doesn’t appear to have given him an advantage.

However, in recent weeks, he has started to get more minutes and his presence in the starting eleven on Tuesday suggests that he could be now be one of the first choice attackers. The combination play between Pulisic, Kai Havertz and Mason Mount showed a degree of chemistry that has been lacking in forward areas. It could be a trio that benefits the former Borussia Dortmund forward, as he is the most direct of the three.

Since the international break, Pulisic has scored three times from eight shots, averaging 2.88 shots per ninety minutes. Towards the end of last season, he was one of the most in-form players in the league and he now looks to be getting back to those levels. Chelsea should continue to give him regular minutes, as they have lacked a consistent goal threat in attack. Pulisic has the direct style and quality to provide that.

In different matches, he has shown different parts of his game and that will encourage Tuchel. Against Crystal Palace, his movement in the final third was exceptional as he continued to find space in the final third and get into goal-scoring positions. Pulisic had chances worth 1.19 expected goals (xG), second to Kai Havertz (1.29 xG). Meanwhile, he was one of the main creative forces and he ended the match with 0.64 expected assists (xA), second to Mason Mount (0.92 xA).

The above shows that he is the more complete of the three currently occupying the forward positions, as he can score and create. Mount is creative player, while Havertz is being deployed as the central forward and he the chief goal threat. As a combination, they appear to complement each other well. Pulisic is certainly reaping the rewards of his current role, as shown by his recent good form and the increased confidence in his game.

Pulisic showed the increased confidence during the Champions League match against Porto on Tuesday night. He regularly picked up the ball in deep areas and looked to be direct, running with the ball. The 22-year-old completed four dribbles, more than any other player on the pitch. This was more than he completed in his previous three appearances combined, showing how he is beginning to get back to his best on the pitch.

There was expectation that Pulisic would develop into the long-term replacement for Eden Hazard. Despite his injury issues, there are enough reasons to believe that he can still step into that role. There are a lot of similarities in their playing styles and his directness will add a lot to the Chelsea attack. Tuchel will continue to rotate his attacking options, but Pulisic has shown that he should be one to get regular minutes.

Stats taken from Whoscored and Understat