Just a couple weeks and a few friendlies into his Chelsea career, Christian Pulisic has done little wrong so far, but he’s saved his best yet for last night. Was it coincidence that owner Roman Abramovich was in the stands, watching his beloved Blues in person — a rarity since his visa issues started? Probably. But it was perfect timing.
Two goals and a penalty won keyed a 10-minute first-half burst from the Blues, who started a bit slowly (again), were sloppy in defense (again), and often careless in possession, but also demonstrated a cutting edge in movement and passing going forward (especially on Pulisic’s left flank) as well as some clinical finishing: 5 goals, 8 shots on target from 10 total!
As the penultimate friendly before the season proper starts in ten days, the name of the game wasn’t just fitness, but Pulisic saw some good signs in terms of the performance as well.
“Really happy to come out here and get the win and to score my first goals for Chelsea. Maybe three [would’ve been better] but I was pretty happy with the performance and it was a good win.
“[Salzburg] are not a bad team at all. They gave us a challenge. They have some really good players and we did a really good job to start strong. We were clinical and got the lead early so that helped.
“All these matches are helping us prepare for the season. We’re gaining our fitness back and we’re feeling really good. We’re excited for the start.”
With Salzburg pressing aggressively and holding a high line, Pulisic had a field day in running through and exploiting the space behind. All three of his goal contributions were started by through balls or balls over the top, the pick of which was probably Barkley’s Lampard-esque pass to find Pulisic running past two defenders and finishing with ease.
Christian gave credit to not only Barkley, who’s had a tremendous preseason, but all the rest of the midfield as well.
“I wasn’t even sure [Barkley] was going to see me, but the ball came to me — I think that was the one I received with my face; it was funny! It was an amazing pass and I just did the rest. The midfielders that are on this team are amazing quality, in the passes that they can make, and their movement, which is really good, and that helps me so much.”
Having scored nine goals in the last two games, Chelsea are certainly having fun out on the pitch in the low pressure environment of preseason. While these results don’t actually matter, the good vibes will hopefully provide a good foundation for the season ahead.
They’ve also been helpful in getting Pulisic settled in quickly. There’s a lot of pressure and expectation on his young shoulders; the more we can help him in that regard, the better off we’ll be.
“It’s amazing to be here and the guys have all been really welcoming, so I’ve enjoyed every moment. [...] It’s been great to have a new challenge, being in a new country with a new team. I’m doing the best I can to adapt. Obviously, it’s easier with the language, and that’s helping, but it’s going great.”
-Christian Pulisic; source: Chelsea TV
May the good times never end.