USMNT star Christian Pulisic didn’t take long — 29 hours and some change — to prove Thomas Tuchel right for believing he was primed to contribute in a big, big way down the stretch of the 2020-21 Premier League season.
[ PULISIC WATCH: USMNT star scores twice for Chelsea v. Crystal Palace ]
Much has been made of Chelsea’s defensive turnaround since Tuchel’s appointment back in January, but less has been said about the slightly sputtering attack at the other end of the field. Saturday marked the first time, in Tuchel’s 16th game in charge, that the Blues scored more than two goals in a game — quotes from Football.London and the BBC:
“You think I gave the wrong messages the last 15 games, and I gave the right one today?
“You have to take it match by match. It’s very difficult to score in the Premier League. We are aware that if we can create chances and score four, we’ve done well. But you cannot divide the match in offense and defense; cannot allow Palace to escape; closing up the pitch while attacking. I’ll always give the credit to everybody.
“It will always stay a team effort, we do everything together and nothing changes in that message. Next Tuesday against Porto, we start again from scratch.”
“It was very good. We started very well, very aggressive and we had a high percentage of possession. We also had a good switch of play and we had a lot of touches in the box, so a very good performance.
“We dropped a little bit after the third goal, but we had a good response, especially after the goal we conceded. We created a lot of chances and didn’t allow much for them.
“It’s still a matter of position on timing and decision making in the box, which will give the boys a lot of confidence to score in away games. We have the feeling we could’ve scored more but we deserved that, and that’s a nice feeling for our self-confidence.”
Only on Friday, Tuchel had the following to say about Pulisic being suitably fitted to Chelsea’s 3-4-2-1 system while playing as one of the two attacking midfielders behind the lone striker (for emphasis)…
“I feel him stronger and stronger, more self-confident and he can be a decisive factor in the next game with his speed and ability to dribble, and his ability to arrive in the box in dangerous situations, and balls from the side, and crosses he has the feeling to arrive and score.”
After the game, Pulisic indicated this season has been quite challenging for him — perhaps it’s the injuries, the lack of playing time and/or production, or maybe all of the above.
“It’s tough to say. There has been a lot of things going on this season, but I will work hard to do my best in any way I can. I was happy I was able to do that today.”
“We had a tough day [against West Brom]. We won’t win every game but the way we responded we’re definitely happy.
“The first 20-30 minutes felt really strong from us. We were playing very aggressive and that drove us through the game.”
With five games left to play, Chelsea remain in the thick of the top-four race. The Blues currently occupy 4th place, two points ahead of both Liverpool and West Ham, but the Hammers are yet to play this weekend, meaning they could reclaim their former spot on Sunday.