For the second consecutive match, Christian Pulisic appeared for Chelsea and found the back of the net in the process. Both matches ended up in victories for Frank Lampard’s side, proving that a healthy and confident Pulisic gives the London club a whole, new level of energy.
Pulisic earned his first start for the Blues since New Years Day, the same day he suffered an adductor injury which kept him out for the next two months. Not only did Pulisic score his seventh league goal of the season, he did so in a game changing fashion which put the Blues in control against Manchester City.
After a mental breakdown between Benjamin Mendy and Ilkay Gundogan following a clearance, Pulisic raced onto the loose ball and made his way towards goal. His poise on the ball eventually saw him shake past Mendy and slot a right-footed shot into the bottom-right corner of the City net.
It was a confident finish for the 21-year-old who put the Blues in front going into halftime. Manchester City hit back through a magnificent free kick from Kevin De Bruyne, but Chelsea would snatch a late penalty kick winner from Willian to defeat Pep Guardiola’s side 2-1. Pulisic also had another golden opportunity to score and would’ve if not for a last-gasp clearance by Kyle Walker.
It was a dominant performance by Pulisic against the defending league champions and arguably his second-best of the league season. Lampard credited the playmaker for his outing against one of the best clubs in Europe and admits he can get even better into the future.
“Christian came in last summer, and he didn’t really get a break,” Lampard said. “When he got in the team he was doing really well and then he got a really tough injury.”
“I wanted to protect him a bit against Villa and see if he could make an impact. He did that. I always planned to start him against City because I know what he can bring in these sorts of games. He brought it and did really well. He’s a young player, he’s got so much talent, and he needs to keep working. He can get better and better.”
Pulisic’s is second for Chelsea with seven league goals, sitting only behind Tammy Abraham for the team lead. Now that he is both fit and confident, Pulisic will be crucial for the Blues during these final seven league matches in their quest for a top-four finish.
The FA Cup is also up for grabs for Chelsea with this weekend’s trip to Leicester City likely another opportunity for Pulisic to add to his season totals. With Manchester United and Wolverhampton Wanderers right behind them in the standings, it will be important for the Blues to avoid any slip-ups the remainder of the season.
“It’s a big three points,” Lampard said. “We are in a battle here and it’s not going to be decided tonight. It’s a nice result which gives us confidence. Now the consistency we produce until the end of the season is what is going to define us this year, and get us the finish we want. There is no point in performing like that if we can’t get some momentum and sustain it. That only comes with focus and hard work.”
Pulisic’s strong impression over the last two matches though should have Lampard eager to see what he brings down the stretch. If Pulisic can continue to put in performances like he did against Manchester City, the Blues could not only clinch a Champions League berth, but they could also bring home a trophy in Lampard’s first season at the helm.