Chelsea and American starlet Christian Pulisic has looked a shadow of his former self under Thomas Tuchel, but with nagging injuries seemingly behind him, the door is open for the Pennsylvania native to rediscover his best form. Pulisic’s best form for the Blues in the Premier League came in the 2019/20 season under Frank Lampard with 25 appearances to his name (19 starts) where he contributed nine goals and four assists.
That season, the league goals he scored also were varied, showing the ability to finish with both feet—four goals with his right, three with his left—and two headed goals. In the league that year, he created six big chances and had his highest percentage of shooting accuracy across the duration of the season Across all competitions in 2019/20, Pulisic made 34 appearances for Chelsea switching between the left and right flank adding a further three goals and six assists for a total 11 goals and 10 assists. That output bettered long-standing Chelsea winger Willian, and Pulisic did it in 13 fewer appearances than the Brazilian.
The 2020/21 season actually saw Pulisic make more total appearances (27) but fewer starts with just 18 and only four goals and two assists. From there, for a variety of reasons, it went downhill for the Chelsea winger.
On the face of it, the decline is stark under Tuchel with just 11 appearances and seven starts in the Premier League this year, scoring just three goals and tallying zero assists. Tack on another six appearances in other competitions and just two assists—the numbers make for grim viewing. The stat line does not tell the full story though, as the American has battled injury since the reign of Lampard. In fact, the USMNT regular captain hasn’t been at the peak of his fitness since the middle of the 2019/20 season. That much is evident when watching Chelsea’s No. 10 play. Gone are the slaloming, marauding runs that earned him Eden Hazard comparisons and instead, you see a much more hesitant Pulisic.
Certainly, the injuries have played a part. Since a tear in his abductor muscle on January 2, 2020, Pulisic has missed 40 Chelsea games, and spent 332 days on the sidelines. That will wreak havoc on any player, let alone a still young and developing winger. The injuries have also come at the worst time for Pulisic. Just as he was establishing himself in the Blues’ starting XI, and indeed becoming the focal point in Lampard’s team, he goes down with that abductor tear. The next three injuries suffered between June 29, 2020 and August 2, 2020 were all leg and muscle injuries. Pulisic was able to stay injury free from November 27, 2020 until August 30, 2021, but by then, Lampard was out the door. While Tuchel used the American, he looked like he had missed 332 days of football—showing glimpses—but never quite the Pulisic of old.