If Christian Pulisic was feeling frustrated BEFORE Chelsea’s Champions League match against Lille, then must be feeling downright exasperated after failing to even make the bench in Chelsea’s 2-1 victory on Wednesday.
Pulisic made headlines recently when he revealed his frustration with not playing much in Chelsea’s recent matches.
“Yeah, of course, it is very frustrating, but I will continue to work my hardest because I want to play,” Pulisic told NBC Sports.
“Not so much,” Pulisic said when asked if Lampard had provided specific feedback on how to earn more playing time. “He just said keep working, and now I have to prove myself in training and try to get back in the line up.”
Is it a coincidence that Pulisic went from being stuck on the bench to not even making the bench in the very next match after the above comments? Or was this Lampard’s not-so-subtle way of reminding Pulisic that nothing is assured, not even his place on the bench?
As if failing to make the bench wasn’t bad enough for Pulisic, he had to sit and watch Callum Hudson-Odoi and Willian — two of the players who have eaten away at his disappearing playing time — combine on the winning goal in the 2-1 triumph over Lille.
Now Pulisic has gone five matches out of Chelsea’s past six matches without seeing a single minute of playing time, with the lone exception being a Carabao Cup start against Grimsby Town.
He now finds himself as the low man on the Chelsea winger totem pole. That trend isn’t likely to change for the better given how well Chelsea’s wing options are performing.
“We have to have really strong competition in wide areas and attacking areas,” Lampard said on Wednesday. “It must be like that, it must be on edge, and I’ve got a few different options in that area.”
Lampard has leaned on veterans and Pedro as wing options, while recently bringing along Hudson-Odoi, who has responded well to the opportunity. Throw in the inclusion of Mason Mount, a Lampard favorite who is more naturally suited to a central midfield role, but who has been deployed wide at times, and you can see just how Pulisic has come to find himself the odd man out.
What Pulisic can’t afford to do is let frustration get the better of him. Acknowledging that frustration publicly probably wasn’t the best way to ingratiate himself to his new manager, even if the comments he actually made weren’t all that flagrant.
The good news for Pulisic is an international break is coming, and he will have two opportunities to play for the United States in Nations League. After allowing Pulisic to leave September camp early, look for Berhalter to give Pulisic two starts in order to help him get some minutes under his belt.
What Pulisic does for the USMNT in October isn’t likely to help his chances of breaking back in at Chelsea, but some confidence-boosting performances for the national team could only serve to help a player who could definitely use something to feel good about.