It’s a question many Chelsea fans are asking; why did Frank Lampard swap Christian Pulisic for Olivier Giroud? Here’s an explanation.
Frank Lampard—and the rest of the Chelsea team—had an abysmal day at the office on Saturday. The Blues took a beating at the hands of Sheffield United, 3-0. However, many post-match questions have surrounded Lampard’s decision-making, rather than the scoreline. Particularly, a 66′ substitution that saw Christian Pulisic subbed off the pitch for Olivier Giroud.
This had fans outraged as Tammy Abraham had done virtually nothing up to that point. Further, Pulisic has been Chelsea’s best player since the restart. So, why did Lampard do it? Aside from the gaffer and his staff, nobody truly knows the answer, but we can try and reason with his decision.
Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, Lampard made the switch to preserve Pulisic’s health. The American came up limping within the opening minutes of the match. It’s not the first time we’ve seen him look to suffer a bit of a knock, it surely won’t be the last.
With Manchester United, Liverpool and Wolves ahead—in addition to already being down 2-0—Lampard had to salvage his losses. Pulisic is going to be perhaps Chelsea’s most important player for the remainder of the season. The Blues would be between a rock and a hard place if the 21-year-old wasn’t fit the rest of the year, especially considering the other significant injuries they’ve sustained.
Another reason for pulling Pulisic as opposed to Abraham could’ve been to observe the young forward. The 22-year-old has had a tough last few months. After finally bagging a goal mid-week, being subbed off with the least amount of touches on the pitch at Bramall Lane would be detrimental to his confidence. Abraham is always a threat to score, even when he has little to offer elsewhere. Observing how a player responds to adversity says a lot about him as an individual; often times, it can be the difference between being a good player and a great one.
Lampard could’ve also been scouting for next season. Let’s not kid ourselves, at 2-0, the game was done and dusted. We knew it as fans, Lampard and his staff surely knew it as well—especially considering the direction in which the game was trending. By bringing in Giroud to play alongside Abraham, Lampard got a brief glimpse of how the English forward handled playing in a front two. This is a formation Lampard is considering deploying next season with the addition of Timo Werner.
After the lackluster display Abraham put on in the last half hour of the match, it’d be surprising if Lampard hadn’t already scrapped those plans. While it’s disheartening to think about the manager looking ahead to the future when currently facing an ominous situation in the present, it has to be considered given the evidence. Lampard noted he’d learnt a lot today and what that means, not many know.
As it stands there was not much Lampard could really do. Therefore, the Blues might benefit in the long-run because of the second-year manager’s decision. Even if Lampard had taken off Abraham instead of Pulisic, the Blues could’ve spent another hour on the pitch and not broken the Blades’ defense down. Let’s try and be more like Lampard and think long-term, there’s no point in looking back now.