Pulisic: Lack of Chelsea playing time ‘very frustrating’

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LONDON — For the fourth time in the last five matches Christian Pulisic sat on the bench as an unused sub for Chelsea.

[ MORE: What now for Pulisic? ]

The USMNT star, 21, watched on as Chelsea beat Brighton and Hove Albion 2-0 at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, as a handful of starts at the beginning of his Blues career has now given way to plenty of time on the bench.

Speaking exclusively to Pro Soccer Talk by the side of the Stamford Bridge pitch as he held his USMNT wash bag and looked more than a little fed up under the cloudy London skies, Pulisic was asked if he’s feeling frustrated by the current situation.

“Yeah, of course, it is very frustrating, but I will continue to work my hardest because I want to play,” Pulisic said.

With Pedro, Willian, Mason Mount and Callum Hudson-Odoi jumping ahead of Pulisic in the Chelsea pecking order, in terms of wingers, Frank Lampard has talked about the former Borussia Dortmund star still being young and needing to settle into life in England.

Has Lampard been giving him specific feedback on how to get on the pitch?

“Not so much,” Pulisic said. “He just said keep working, and now I have to prove myself in training and try to get back in the line up.”

As for life in London following his $73 million transfer, Pulisic is enjoying living in England’s capital city and the Chelsea fans want him to do well as a group of supporters asked for his shirt and waved around the Star Spangled Banner by the bench.

But Pulisic accepts it has been a bit of a challenge and it will take him some time to settle in.

Making this move a success will not be easy, but he knew that already.

“The city is great, I’ve enjoyed it. It has been good but it has been a change. There are going to be challenges,” Pulisic said. “I knew it was going to be tough coming here. It is never going to be easy. I’ve got to grind it out. I want to be back and be a part of the team and help the team win games.

“I want to play as many minutes as I can, that is really my goal, I want to be on the field… It is tough for me right now. I just have to continue to learn. Like I said, I want to be on the field really bad, I have to continue to work and prove myself to be there.”

Last season at Dortmund he found himself in a similar situation, benched due to injuries and the emergence of Jadon Sancho as his January move to Chelsea pushed him out of the thinking of head coach Lucien Favre.

Asked if he can learn from that experience of being on the bench at Dortmund for large swathes of last season, Pulisic believes he can replicate a campaign which saw him become increasingly influential.

“Of course,” Pulisic said, positively. “In the end I got minutes again and I played well towards the end of the season, so I just have to get my head down and get to work.”

But the message from Pulisic was simple: He didn’t expect life at Chelsea and in the Premier League to be easy and he knows there is a long battle ahead.

“It is not going to be easy here, but it was never going to be easy,” Pulisic added.

Even if most USMNT fans are already sounding the alarm bells on his move to Chelsea, Pulisic is up for the fight to get back into the team.

The problem is, Willian scored on Saturday, Hudson-Odoi has impressed and Mount is being praised heavily by Lampard.

As things stand, Pulisic is Chelsea’s fourth-choice winger, at best, and Pedro is still getting minutes ahead of him.

His move to the Premier League hasn’t worked out so far, but it is still early days and the Pennsylvania native seems determined to prove his doubters wrong.

It is way too early to make big picture predictions on Pulisic’s future in the PL, and everyone needs to give him, and Chelsea, time to figure things out.

Premier League player Power Rankings

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Our latest Premier League player Power Rankings see plenty of players remaining in the upper echelons.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Matchweek 12 was wild, with players from Liverpool, Chelsea and Leicester City continuing to dominate our top 20. The likes of Ciaran Clark, John Lundstram and Dwight McNeil were so close to cracking the top 20…

Remember: this is a list of the top 20 performing players right now in the Premier League. If they didn’t play in the last matchweek, they aren’t getting in this list!

Let us know in the comments section below if you agree with the selections.


1.  Christian Pulisic (Chelsea) – Up 2
2. Jamie Vardy (Leicester) – Up 2
3. Sadio Mane (Liverpool) – Down 2
4. Tammy Abraham (Chelsea) – Down 2
5. Wilfried Ndidi (Leicester) – New entry
6. Caglar Soyuncu (Leicester) – Up 1
7.  Fabinho (Liverpool) – New entry
8. Andy Robertson (Liverpool) – Down 2
9. Virgil Van Dijk (Liverpool) – Up 6
10. Willian (Chelsea) – Up 6
11. Gerard Deulofeu (Watford) – New entry
12. Raul Jimenez (Wolves) – Down 7
13. Kevin De Bruyne (Man City) – Even
14. Youri Tielemans (Leicester) – Even
15. James Maddison (Leicester) – New entry
16. Marcus Rashford (Man United) – Down 4
17. Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool) – Up 2
18. Fernandinho (Man City) – New entry
19. Matteo Kovacic (Chelsea) – New entry
20. Richarlison (Everton) – New entry

U.S. teenager Matteo Ritaccio signs pro deal with Liverpool

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Another American making waves at a Premier League giant?

Maybe.

Matteo Ritaccio, who just turned 18 years old, has signed his first professional contract with Liverpool.

The Long Island native has been playing with their U18 academy side since the summer of 2018, as he holds an Italian passport and was therefore able to make the move to Europe from the USA.

Liverpool detailed how they have worked hard to scout and then secure the signature of Ritaccio, a midfielder.

“He had first been spotted by the Reds as a 13-year-old at a training camp for the US national team, though he also holds an Italian passport. A tough-tackling and exciting player, Ritaccio started the season in fine form for the U18s but his momentum was brought to a halt by a leg injury.”

Ritaccio is a product of the famed youth side BW Gottschee and he impressed Liverpool’s coaches with a fast start to the 2019-20 season before injury struck.

He will be back fit early in January and it will be intriguing to see how he develops.

Jurgen Klopp isn’t afraid to throw plenty of youngsters into the side, as he proved during the recent victory over Arsenal in the League Cup.

Remember the name: Matteo Ritaccio.

Everton’s Moise Kean dropped due to discipline issues

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Everton striker Moise Kean was dropped for the 2-1 win at Southampton on Saturday after being late for a team meeting.

Kean, 19, was not in the Toffees squad for their first Premier League away victory since March and Sky Sports in the UK say that was because the Italian international has been having issues with his timekeeping.

Here’s some more information from our partners at Sky Sports News in the UK:

“The former Juventus forward was late for a team meeting and as a result was left out of the squad for the 2-1 Premier League victory at St Mary’s. Sky Sports News understands it is the second time Kean has been late for a team meeting.”

It is believed the player has apologized to Silva and his teammates for being late, but he does have previous, and not just with Everton. Italy boss Roberto Mancini left Kean out of the Azzurri squad in September after he and Roma’s Nicolo Zaniolo were late for a team meeting at the U21 European Championships in the summer.

Somebody get Kean a new watch, or at least set a few more reminders on his phone!

Kean arrived at Goodison Park for $33 million this summer but has yet to score for the Toffees as Richarlison, Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Cenk Tosun have all been preferred to him in the central strikers role.

This is a tough one. Kean is young and adapting to life in a new country, so let’s give him the benefit of the doubt, but rules are rules and Silva obviously runs a tight ship.

Southgate on Sterling punishment: ‘We are like a family’

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Gareth Southgate called an impromptu press conference at England’s St. George’s Park training base on Tuesday to discuss one thing.

Raheem Sterling v. Joe Gomez.

[ MORE: Sterling issues public apology ]

According to multiple reports, on Monday the Man City winger was sat in the players’ canteen at England’s training base when Gomez, the first of several Liverpool players to arrive, walked in and was laughing. Sterling then reportedly said “you’re the big man now are you?” and confronted Gomez, trying to grab him around the neck as the two were separated.

This all came after Sterling clashed with Gomez in Liverpool’s 3-1 win over City at Anfield on Sunday, as the England winger was booed heavily by the home fans and also clashed with England teammates Jordan Henderson and Trent-Alexander Arnold during the game.

After a tumultuous 24 hours, Southgate kept calm as he discussed why he had decided to punish Sterling by making him unavailable for the EURO 2020 qualifier against Montenegro on Thursday.

“I love all of my players. We are like a family. The important thing is for a family to communicate and work through problems,” Southgate said. “I don’t expect as a manager to not have to deal with issues. In the end I have to find the right solution for the group. That’s a difficult line, you try to be fair when dealing with all players. I won’t always get that right but I am the manager. Raheem is very important for us but I felt it was the right thing.”

Southgate has been criticized by the likes of Rio Ferdinand and other ex-England players for making the spat public, but others believe he has handled it well and sent a clear message out to the rest of his squad.

Sterling is England’s best player, on current form, so leaving him out is a big call for Southgate. England’s manager is a big fan of Sterling and has praised his ability on the pitch and his maturity off it in recent months.

But Sterling was wrong to go at Gomez and he has since admitted it on social media.

Southgate wanted to nip this in the bud and he is in full control of the situation. What damage this incident, and the way he reacted, does in the long-term remains to be seen. But Southgate is a man who sticks to his principles and he doesn’t want England’s players going at each other due to club matters.

If he sent out a weak message following Sterling’s actions it would have told the rest of the squad it was fine for them to act in a similar manner.