Thanks to a torn adductor and then a hamstring strain, Christian Pulisic has been available to play in less than half of Chelsea’s 29 games in all competitions in the 2020 calendar year. That he’s managed 5 goals and 4 assists officially in those 13 appearances and still finished as the highest rated player by overall average in the WAGNH Community Ratings for 2019-20 speaks volumes to just how good he was during Project Restart and just how much is expected of him this season, his second at Chelsea.
Christian himself certainly expects quite a bit.
“Our goal is to finish at the highest standing in the Premier League and win every trophy available. Champions League included. We’ve got a great group of guys, we’re going to compete, and we’re hungry to win titles.
“Absolutely [I see us winning the Premier League and the Champions League in the future]. Why not? That’s right where we want to be. I think that’s realistic, and we’re gonna compete hard to get those trophies.”
It’s easy to forget that like most of Chelsea’s own homegrown stars who have emerged in the Youth Revolution™, Pulisic is still very young himself — he turned 22 just last month — and still has plenty to learn and plenty of room to improve. But now, in his second season at Chelsea and after a summer of big spending, the pressures will rise, along with the demand for wins and trophies. The excuse of youth and inexperience, be that in the squad or in the staff, will not go as far as before.
Fortunately, those upon whom these expectations are thus placed, have the experience of last season from which to build even higher.
“We’ve brought in more experienced players this year with some new signings, and I think we also have a great group of young guys. So I think it’s a really good mix. Last year was more of a transition year where obviously we couldn’t sign any new players, but we still had some of the guys who’d been there.
“What was great about last year is a lot of the young guys got a lot of experience. This year there’s definitely a boosted confidence, we’ve got an edge. We’re ready, we want to compete, and we want to win titles.”
In American sports, the idea of a “sophomore slump” is quite prevalent. If Pulisic is to avoid that, and at least live up to the expectations set by his first season, he knows he has to work even harder this season.
“[Last season there were] a lot of ups and downs. It’s tough to describe with the pandemic and everything that hit. It seemed like a lot of things were changing all the time. Coming back from an [abductor] injury, I felt I had a new beginning and a really strong end to the season. So I was definitely proud with how I finished it off.
“But I think I just learned so much. Whether it was not being involved at the beginning as much — not playing as much — to getting into my role and finding my role on the team. I think I improved a lot. Just learned so much, so I’m really happy with where I stand now with the club.”
Pulisic made his belated return after a couple months on the sidelines as a second-half substitute in last weekend’s 4-0 over Crystal Palace. With him coming back and Hakim Ziyech getting ready for action, we just might finally get to see what this newfangled Chelsea might look like and what we might be capable of.
“It felt great. I had another tough injury, and it was really hard work to get back out there. I’m really excited I got some minutes on Saturday before the break. Now I just wish we had a game sooner, to be honest. But at least I’ll get a little rest.
“I was just really happy to make my season debut. It felt like a new beginning almost. A new number, a new season. Obviously there are a lot of new players, too. Just a really great feeling overall.”
-Christian Pulisic; source: CBS Sports
Here’s to new beginnings and old ambitions.