With one swing of a leg in the dying moments of the game, Christian Pulisic turned our Sunday, our weekend from frustrating to fun, from disappointing to gratifying, from concerning to encouraging.
No wonder he himself called it a “massive” goal to finally break down the stubborn West Ham defense and send everyone home happy. The 1-0 triumph arrested a run of back-to-back-to-back ridiculous home defeats, cutting out mistakes by and large, though also struggling in front of goal (familiar!).
Pulisic may not have started — in fact, he has not started a league game in five weeks, since our eerily similar win against Newcastle in mid-March — but he made his eventual opportunity count.
“It was a massive goal [...] it feels good. We want to be secure in the top four. There are still some matches left and this was a good step in the right direction.
“It was really good. We needed a home win, obviously it feels great in front of our fans. Some big league games, then the FA Cup final, so this is a good boost for us.”
-Christian Pulisic; source: Chelsea FC
There are six games left in the league, with a bonus game at Wembley in the FA Cup final as well. We’re sitting comfortably in third, which is ours to lose the rest of the way.
That run-in could certainly open up opportunities over the last month for players to show their wares, be that with a view towards a transfer or a view towards an expanded role going forward. Pulisic grabbed his chance with both hands last night, while Hakim Ziyech and Romelu Lukaku also made telling contributions after their introduction.
“It is like this, especially with the strikers. [Pulisic] had a period when he was on a run, had the confidence, was heavily involved upfront and Timo had to wait for many, many weeks. Now things turned around a little bit from the Southampton game.
“Puli struggled a little bit since coming back from the international break where he had three matches, an incredible amount of joineries and timezones to cope with. From there, he struggled energy-wise. This was my impression, on and off the pitch. It’s sometimes like this.
“Now we have tried to bring him back in full confidence from the bench, and I am happy with the effort today, and I am happy he had the chance to have this big impact with Romelu and Hakim. It was super important.”
-Thomas Tuchel; source: Football.London
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Next up: Manchester United, away, on Thursday.