Christian Pulisic has been a man reborn lately.
After his record-breaking hat trick at Burnley on Saturday, the 21-year-old U.S. men’s national team star burst on the scene and looks set for a star for Chelsea.
However has he turned things around?
A few weeks back he was an unused substitute happy just to get moments, along with the match at Burnley was his first PL beginning since Aug. 31.
In the last few months there have been gradual indicators that the penny has dropped for Pulisic from a tactical perspective. It had been the same with the likes of Fabinho and Bernardo Silva, who took time before becoming stars at Liverpool and Man City respectively.
It was going to take him time to adjust to a different group, a new nation and a new team, but now he has and he has grabbed assists and left a massive impact after coming off the bench against Southampton, Newcastle and then Ajax ahead of his breakout in Burnley.
The biggest tactical change when watching Pulisic in the last few months in contrast to his first few months in Chelsea is that he’s no more stuck on the flank. He is working more centrally and finding gaps in between the full springs and center backs he could drive into. In previous games that he was too isolated, hugging the touchline out broad and barely being involved in the play.
Sometimes something so simple could have a massive gap, and Pulisic has spent his time on the bench and from the group thinking about how he can have the largest impact when he is on the pitch. Fair play to him for not getting down his head and feeling sorry for himself. There was none of that and you could see the fire in his eyes because he planned to create this season, and spell at Chelsea, a triumph.
He is now playing to his strengths whenever he could.
Pulisic’s best quality is his ability to dribble at pace with the ball and he can use both foot to do so, which is exactly how he scored his first two goals at Burnley. On the defensive aspect of the game he has to improve, together with his audience leading to Burnley’s first aim, and there are still worries about him tracking his positional skill in defensive situations. Though that is not why Pulisic is in the Chelsea team, he needs to improve in that area. And he knows it.
The USMNT celebrity knows he still has quite a ways to visit nail down a regular spot in the Chelsea team, together with Mason Mount, Willian, Pedro and Callum Hudson-Odoi all fighting it out with him for minutes. There’ll still be ups and downs and Pulisic will need to work on becoming more consistent.
His performances over the last few months suggests he’s now adapted his game to the PL and now he’s a marked man after his hat trick.
That means Pulisic might need to keep on evolving to remain on top. He has all the skills to do so, and now it’s about making the most of the unbelievable momentum that the last 10 days have given him.