Analysis

Is Christian Pulisic a part of Thomas Tuchel’s plans?

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Chelsea’s recent 2-0 win over Newcastle United at home assured the Chelsea faithful that Thomas Tuchel is not messing around as he picked up his 4th win out of 5 games since he arrived at the club at the end of January.

The most notable moment being Timo Werner’s contribution to the game, as the German played a huge part in the first goal, as he rushed to the byline and delivered a wicked cross which created problems in the box for Newcastle United’s defence as Newcastle’s No:1, Karl Darlow, palmed it out straight to Olivier Giroud, who was not going to miss from 5 yards out. The second goal came soon after, as Chelsea continued their good run of scoring from set-pieces this season but this time, the goal scorer was Timo Werner, somebody who finally broke the curse and scored a Premier League goal after 1,000 minutes.

An important thing to note is Timo Werner played off the inside left in this game and has done so for the past 3 Premier League games. This was a position that was occupied by Christian Pulisic for a majority of the last season as the American contributed to 13 goals in just over 1500 Premier League minutes. However, his performances towards the end of last season really put him in the limelight as he played a huge role in defeating Manchester City at Stamford Bridge, while also making a big impact off the bench against Liverpool as he contributed to 2 goals in less than 45 minutes, which says a lot about the talent of the 22-year-old American.

SO WHY HAS HE NOT STARTED A GAME YET?

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Thomas Tuchel, since he arrived at the club, has set a certain formation, which has largely benefitted forward-minded players. Tuchel opted for a 3-4-2-1 formation, but he tweaks it according to his team selection. In his first games against Wolves, he went with Kai Havertz, Hakim Ziyech, and Giroud as his front three with Ben Chilwell and Callum Hudson-odoi as wingbacks, but Kai Havertz and Hakim Ziyech did not play as traditional wingers as they stayed on the insides, letting Hudson-odoi and Chilwell spread the pitch with their width in the wingback positions.

Alternatively, he has also employed a Mount-Werner-Abraham attack where he prefers Mount and Werner to overload in the wings, with the wingbacks causing several issues to the opposition’s fullbacks.

This is exactly what is puzzling. Christian Pulisic is incredibly doing both of these jobs. He can create overloads on the wings while also act as an inside forward playing off somebody like Olivier Giroud because Pulisic is probably the best dribbler at the club currently. He has only come on as a substitute till now under Tuchel and he has impressed whenever he has been given the opportunity. Most fans thought Pulisic would start the game against Tottenham at the start of February but Tuchel opted for Mount, Werner and Hudson-odoi as he looked to shore up the defence with Alonso and Reece James as wingbacks.

MUST READ: 5 Things Learnt from Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea so far
MOUNT & WERNER METHODOLOGY:

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Christian Pulisic does a lot of brilliant things in attack but what he cannot do is bridging a gap between the midfield and attack while he also does not excel at being a dogged presser. These qualities exist within Mason Mount which is why he was a favorite under Frank Lampard and also why he is selected under current head coach, Thomas Tuchel. Pressing and winning the ball back is an important quality in Tuchel’s system and Mason Mount epitomizes that more than anyone else in this Chelsea side. Timo Werner on the other hand is an active runner behind defences while he also helps out in cutting passing lanes.

Christian Pulisic is most lethal when he has the ball or when the team has the ball and he can make blind-sided runs between a fullback and the central defender. He is also an excellent dribbler but he is not a very powerful runner which is an essential quality in a modern-day Premier League footballer. He can draw a lot of fouls but sometimes you need to just pick yourself up, brush off challenges and score goals. Eden Hazard was exemplary at this and that is why the Chelsea fans loved him.

MUST READ: N’golo Kante under Thomas Tuchel: Reinvigorated or a Victim under the new system?
ADVANTAGE OF JAM-PACKED FIXTURE SCHEDULE:

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“Christian absolutely deserved to start, he deserved to come in, so I hope he keeps ongoing and I’m absolutely sure he will be an important influence for us and make an important impact for us in the future” – were Thomas Tuchel’s words when asked why the American has not been starting for him.

The advantage that Pulisic has is that Chelsea’s Champions League tie is right around the corner, while Chelsea also looks to establish a firm hold over the top 4 race in the Premier League which indicates that there are a lot of games to be played and he can surely make an impact in them and regain his starting spot. One more advantage that plays his way, is that the American can play on either wing and since Tammy Abraham recently picked up a knock against Newcastle, if Tuchel decides to play Olivier Giroud as his main striker for the coming games, Pulisic could certainly benefit from this as he can become an extremely powerful weapon when he plays off a big striker.

There is no doubt that Christian Pulisic is an unbelievable talent but there are certain aspects to his game that he must develop and develop quickly. He is still only 22 years old but with the influx of the young attacking talent that exists within the current Chelsea roster, Pulisic must make sure he does not fall down the pecking order.

It is still early days as Thomas Tuchel looks to find a perfect starting XI, but Pulisic must make sure he is knocking on the manager’s door day in and day out to lock down a starting spot in Tuchel’s era at Chelsea.

MUST READ: Does the change of roles for Callum Hudson-Odoi finally solidify his position in Chelsea’s starting XI?
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