Christian Pulisic’s time at Chelsea has been defined by injuries, spurts of brilliance, and a constant attention on his playing time, especially across the pond, but after a slow start under Thomas Tuchel, the 22-year-old looks to be growing in importance and, perhaps not coincidentally, in fitness as well.
A muscle injury never seems far for Captain America — that supersoldier serum hasn’t quite taken yet apparently — but Chelsea are hopefully learning to manage the kid’s workload and, in turn, his susceptibility to the various soft tissue strains and sprains that have plagued him over the past couple years.
“Personally I am feeling very good [...] I am doing my best to take care of myself. I have got to take care of my body and be strong and healthy for all the games. It has not been an easy season, there has been a lot of coming in and coming out and injuries, but I’m feeling healthy and strong right now.”
And that’s not just talk as Pulisic backed up those claims with a Man of the Match performance over the weekend as Chelsea finally were able to score more than two goals in a match under Tuchel. The winger, who played not quite as a winger but more of a Werner, credits that to the growing connections between the various young and supremely talented attacking players in the squad — Chelsea’s front three against Palace were all 21 or 22.
“It is a bit of a different system and I am playing in a bit of a different role, when I am playing, but it is nothing that I am not used to. [Tuchel] still wants me to use my creative abilities and do what I do as a player. It is not a massive change. Positionally a bit, but that is about it.
“The movement was very good against Palace. We had a good connection up front, and obviously we have a lot of dangerous players up there, so it clicked very well for us. We clicked very well, we were able to finish our chances early, which was important and helped get us through the game, but we could have been even more clinical.”
-Christian Pulisic; source: Chelsea FC
Tuchel has been freely rotating and tinkering with his forward line (except for maybe Mason Mount), so chances are we’ll see a different look against Porto in the second leg. But if Pulisic can keep building on his current form and get back to at least the levels he showed during the summer and Project Restart, we just might be celebrating not only a few more goals, but perhaps a few more trophies as well.