Pulisic watch: USMNT star a difference maker off the bench in win

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USMNT winger Christian Pulisic changed the game after his introduction to Chelsea’s 1-0 win over Newcastle United on Saturday.

[ RECAP: Chelsea 1-0 Newcastle ]

Deployed for Mason Mount in the center of the three in a 4-2-3-1, Pulisic caused the turnover that led to Chelsea’s first goal and saw countryman DeAndre Yedlin deny him a proper assist late on.

Here are his prime contributions over 25-plus minutes.

[ MORE: Sargent scores for Bremen ]

65th minute: Calmly settles a knee-high pass to sent Callum Hudson-Odoi down the left, but the Englishman is dispossessed.

68th minute: Hudson-Odoi’s deflected pass makes its way a bit behind Pulisic, who settles with his first touch but sees his blast well-saved by a desperate Martin Dubravka.

69th minute: Takes a throw-in marked by two and gets the ball back to the backs for a reload.

74th minute: Pulisic steals the ball in the final third and spots Hudson-Odoi, who lays off for Alonso. The Spaniard is in his office to rip a shot across goal and past a less-than-ideal Dubravka.

79th minute: The American runs into space to find Mateo Kovacic‘s through ball, and passes to Abraham for a should-be goal. The English striker doesn’t feel the onrushing DeAndre Yedlin, who slides to block Abraham’s shot and his countryman’s would-be assist.

90+2: Dribbles and moves the ball laterally to link with Willian, who wins a free kick which allowed Chelsea to soak up the final moments.

Stats: One shot, 88 percent passing, one key pass, two aerials won.

Chelsea’s USMNT star Pulisic: ‘Everything has happened really fast’

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Chelsea winger Christian Pulisic is the face of American soccer.

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The USMNT star is still just 21 years old but he’s already contributing for the Blues in his debut Premier League season after arriving from Borussia Dortmund for $73 million.

In the latest edition of “Inside the Mind” our own Arlo White sat down with Pulisic at Chelsea’s training ground at Cobham as they spoke about his journey to the PL, being a star in the USA and his ambitions at the west London club.

“Everything has happened really fast,” Pulisic said of his arrival with Chelsea in England. “I just try to take every moment in and to look around and enjoy. That’s a nice piece of advice that I got. Don’t just let things happen. Make sure you take it all in and try to remember the moment. I’m very proud to be here.”

Click here to watch the full interview with Pulisic over on our YouTube page.

Cole returns to Chelsea as youth team coach

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One of Chelsea’s best players in club history is back at his old stomping grounds in a new role.

Chelsea finally confirmed over their social media channels that former left back Ashley Cole is back at the club coaching in the academy, helping the next generation of stars grow and learn the games. Specifically, Cole is coaching the U-15 squad.

[READ: Top Premier League Storylines]

“I’m also doing my badges at the moment and so being here at Chelsea means I have the chance to coach every day, whereas maybe if I wasn’t working at a club it would be hard for me to get the hours in,” Cole told Chelsea’s website. “I’m learning not just how to be a coach and how to speak to people in a different environment but the side of coaching that you don’t see like planning the sessions and setting up the equipment.

“As a player, you just turn up for a session and do it. If it’s a possession drill, you just arrive and try to keep the ball but now I’m getting to understand that there are always ideas behind a particular session or practice. Organization has to be key and those are the little details that it takes to be a great coach.”

While plenty from Cole’s era have moved into the media for lucrative punditry roles, it’s nice to see players like Cole and his former teammate Frank Lampard, now Chelsea coach, go into coaching to help pass on some of the great lessons they’ve learned during their careers. .

Cole said in the interview that he wasn’t sure what was next after playing three seasons for the LA Galaxy and then joining Lampard at Derby County for the second half of last season. He added that he got his first taste of coaching kids while with the Galaxy, helping some of the academy players and taking part in video sessions.

“The Academy are very good at giving ex-players a route back to the club and a chance to learn as coaches,” Cole said. “They’re eager to bring in people who understand what it means to be at Chelsea and what it means to wear the badge. You have to be a top player to play for Chelsea so they want those top ex-players influencing and trying to help the next generation develop and be better players.”

In-form striker Duvan Zapata injured on international duty

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This international break has been particularly brutal to clubs who have seen a host of key players go down with injuries, and there’s still a few days of matches remaining.

The latest player to succumb to injury is Atalanta striker Duvan Zapata who returned from Colombia duty with an adductor strain and will miss at least three weeks, according to Sky Sports Italia (via FootballItalia). Zapata went down 23 minutes into Colombia’s 0-0 friendly draw with Chile on Friday and was sent back to Italy for tests at his club.

Those tests have reportedly confirmed the initial fears. The loss of Zapata is a massive one for Atalanta, as the 28-year-old has been steadily building for years and is having a breakout start to this campaign, scoring six Serie A goals in seven matches plus one more in Champions League play, currently on a run of four consecutive games with a goal across all competitions. With Zapata’s help, Atalanta sits third in the Serie A table, having bagged the most goals of any team with 18 through seven games.

Zapata becomes the latest high-profile injury from this international break, joining Colombia teammate Alexis Sanchez who went down late in the same match and is reportedly out until 2020 with a serious ankle injury. Chelsea has been hit the hardest, with Andreas Christensen, Mateo Kovacic, and Reese James all pulling up while N’Golo Kante was injured in France warmups but he is expected to be fit for the weekend. Luka Modric may miss time after going down in a Euro qualifier against Wales, while Gareth Bale also picked up a knock in that match. Neymar went down in Brazil’s match against against Nigeria, which forced manager Tite to explain his reasoning for the selection in a friendly. Sergio Aguero is apparently struggling to train with Argentina thanks to a mystery injury confirmed by Lionel Scaloni. Arsenal’s Dani Ceballos withdrew from Spain training earlier in the week with “hamstring overload.” Atlanta United defender Miles Robinson left USMNT camp with a hamstring problem with the MLS playoffs on the horizon.

Giroud upset with reserve role at Chelsea

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Olivier Giroud does not look back on his transfer to Chelsea and wish he had done things differently, but that doesn’t mean things are all sunshine and roses for the 33-year-old.

Giroud, who moved to Chelsea from Arsenal in the winter of 2018 after six years with the Gunners, has played just 43 times in the Premier League, averaging just 35 minutes per appearance. That has him frustrated, hoping to prove his loyalty to the club and work harder than the other options up front.

“I had competitors in attack – [Alvaro] Morata, [Gonzalo] Higuain, who ended up leaving,” Giroud said. “I won at the end: I played the final of the FA Cup in 2018 and the [Europa League] final in 2019. Once again, I’m starting the year in a difficult situation. But as my brother says, I have always built myself in the face of adversity.”

Giroud is trying to be smart about how he approaches the competition for time with the likes of Tammy Abraham and Michy Batshuayi, but he says it is emotionally taxing.

“You do not have to be fatalistic in certain situations,” Giroud says about keeping a level head. “I have always been respectful and humble. Even if I do not agree with the coach, I do not criticize him. But in myself, I cannot accept it because I know what I’m worth on a pitch.”

The French international has made just three league appearances this season, mostly thanks to Abraham’s scalding form. Abraham, still just 22 years old, has snatched his opportunity for first-team minutes with eight goals in eight games to start the campaign. That has left Giroud on the sidelines for each of the last five league games, missing out on a spot in the matchday squad altogether for the last three.

Despite his struggles at the club level, Giroud has maintained his place in the French national team, missing just five matches of France’s last 64 games, including 37 of the last 39.