Looking back on the last 38 games, it’s clearly been a frustrating campaign for Christian Pulisic whose form and fitness have been marred by injuries throughout the year.
The 22-year-old winger who’s been reintroduced into the fray in recent weeks is yet to stamp his authority on games that have been crying out for the creative flair he possesses.
His lackluster performance in Sunday’s defeat at Villa Park however could be the final straw for the American in his bid to start versus Manchester City in the Champions League final on Saturday.
In the 2-1 loss to Dean Smith’s Aston Villa on Sunday, the winger who is renowned for his superb turn of pace and dribbling ability was a shadow of his former self. Thomas Tuchel will be keen to field his most experienced players in Chelsea’s season-defining Champions League final, which takes place this weekend.
The Blues’ defeat was their third in their last four games across all competitions. He looked to be finding little to no success with the ball at his feet despite providing an assist to Ben Chilwell in the 70th minute.
Pulisic completed only one dribble out of the four attempted and had the third least amount of touches out of any outfield Chelsea player despite the Blues having 72% of the ball. This all bodes the question as to whether Tuchel should start him this weekend?
It is still relatively unclear if Kai Havertz will be able to start or not, meaning Pulisic will have to compete with players such as Hudson Odoi and Hakim Ziyech if Havertz is unavailable.
In order to beat Guardiola’s Manchester City, it is crucial to have ball carriers who can use individual skills to beat the press before passing or driving into the space created.
In an interview with Rio Ferdinand last season, Tuchel stated:
“It is important we don’t suppress creativity, In your space when protected find your solution. I will never tell Marco Verratti what to do, he will find a solution that I could not find.”
With City relying heavily on their press to win the ball high up the field it could be worth rolling the dice and starting Pulisic from a tactical standpoint.
The American who has regularly been compared to Chelsea legend Eden Hazard can excel for Chelsea against a City team susceptible to being caught out. In both victories versus the newly crowned Champions this year, Tuchel used the pace of Chelsea’s frontmen to punish the City defenders one on one and in behind. This is something Pulisic has in abundance.
Tuchel’s former player Pulisic has a tendency to give the ball away cheaply and has an inferior pass accuracy this season than Mount and Havertz, who may be preferred on Saturday due to their ability to keep the ball in the opposition half.
The World Cup winner has the ability to make all the difference for the Blues should Tuchel start him in his eleven. Pulisic and Kovacic’s dribbling styles against a high press are fundamental to Tuchel’s system as a decision-maker.