Christian Pulisic missed the first five games of the season, played the next five (three starts), then missed the next five, then played the next three (one start), and now has missed two in a row. Just like last season, he’s well on course to play roughly half of our games, which is a shame for both the club and the player himself. When fit, he’s one of our best players — and was the highest rated player throughout last season by this community — but his penchant for injuries is truly becoming a concern.
The 22-year-old’s absence yesterday came as a surprise still, especially after head coach Frank Lampard delivered a fairly optimistic injury update on Thursday, saying that Pulisic had trained “normally” after feeling “a tiny bit” of discomfort — “awareness” was the even more sugarcoated word used in fact.
After the game yesterday, Lampard changed his story, claiming that Pulisic had been feeling “uncomfortable” all week and there was no way he could’ve started or even played! That’s quite the shift in the narrative, Frank!
“It wasn’t hard [decision to leave him out]. It was just a fact. He had to be left out. He was uncomfortable in training this week and yesterday; he can’t play 90 minutes or start a game in the Premier League”
With Pulisic joining Callum Hudson-Odoi and Hakim Ziyech on the sidelines, Chelsea are left with zero actual wingers. Timo Werner is a striker who can pose as a winger due to his speed, while Kai Havertz and Mason Mount (and Tino Anjorin) are versatile enough to do a passable job — but neither of those players is really an ideal solution, and against Everton, it badly showed.
But Lampard wasn’t interested in analyzing the situation from that perspective. He chose to use Pulisic’s injury as a chance to complain once again about the number of substitutions available, with the Premier League staunchly refusing to switch to 5 from 3, like during Project Restart and like the rest of Europe have done.
“It comes back to the same story. There are muscle injuries all over the Premier League. It comes back to [the] five subs...”
“In terms of player welfare, if we are asking players to fly all over the world for their country and play three games in 10 days and come back and play on a Saturday morning early and then go again on a Tuesday and go again on a Saturday, players that are at the higher end of the pitch, that are explosive, are getting issues all over the Premier League. That’s the big picture and it’s frustrating for everybody.
“Every team has big squads so everybody can pack their benches and everybody can use their squads to get through these unprecedented fixture list times. Did we miss the wide players today? Yes we did because they are big players for us.”
-Frank Lampard; source: Football.London
While allowing more substitutes would be a good thing — we’ve said this all along — I’m not sure how much difference that would’ve really made in Pulisic’s case.
Oh, and Lampard only used two of his three available yesterday anyway, so what are we complaining about again?
P.S.: Get well soon, CP10!