Pulisic Quiets Injury Concerns With 180 Minutes Of Action In Just 3 Days

The American was lively against Villa but couldn’t convert in the 1-1 draw.

Given the fact that Christian Pulisic had already missed time this year because of a calf strain, major hamstring tear and subsequent hamstring complaint, it was surprising to see the American in Chelsea’s starting lineup on Monday after going the full 90 against Arsenal on Saturday, but it affirmed the fact that Frank Lampard saw the American as a lone bright spot in that 3-1 defeat.  

Lampard admitted in his pregame interview that players couldn’t be expected to perform at a high level given only one day of rest — “We haven’t had time to train, so the changes were going to come irrespective. It’s impossible to ask the same XI to play in two days’ time at the same level” — but there was Pulisic in a new front three with Tammy Abraham and Timo Werner making way for Olivier Giroud and Callum Hudson-Odoi.

The importance of the fixture couldn’t be overstated: Aston Villa arrived at Stamford Bridge in fifth — level on points with sixth-place Chelsea — but the visitors maintained two games in hand on the home side.

The match also featured a fascinating clash of No. 10s: Villa’s Jack Grealish and Chelsea’s Pulisic. The first real chance of the game arrived in the 12th minute and it was Grealish accidentally setting up Pulisic with a poor back-pass, but the 22-year-old couldn’t get his foot around the finish and fired into the side-netting. 

Pulisic was all-action from there. In the 14th-minute, he shaped to shoot after receiving a cutback from Mason Mount but John McGinn was there to put in a vital block. Seven minutes later, Pulisic attempted an acrobatic overhead kick but ended up inadvertently kicking Matty Cash in the head.

In the 32nd minute, Pulisic went for another extreme finish. He ended up looping the half-chance over the net while the pitch-side microphone picked up an “Oh my god, man!” from the American.

But Chelsea would finally have the ball in the net a couple minutes later after Pulisic, following a flick from Giroud, played it out wide to Ben Chilwell and the fullback picked out the run of Giroud for an excellent stooping header.

Just five minutes after the break Villa leveled when Grealish pushed it out wide for Cash and his delivery picked out Anwar El Ghazi at the far post with N'Golo Kanté applying some of the worst defensive pressure of his career. 

Lampard put on Werner and Kai Havertz in search of the winner, but it was Villa who came closest to adding a second with Jacob Ramsey dragging one narrowly wide and McGinn thundering another off the crossbar.

Pulisic’s fourth and final shot of the evening was tipped over by Emiliano Martínez in the 79th-minute. By his own high standards, he’ll be frustrated with not getting one today.  

The match would end 1-1, adding fuel to Villa’s European dream and further tempering Chelsea’s vision of a genuine title challenge. Up next for the Blues is Sunday’s clash with Manchester City at Stamford Bridge, but there’s now uncertainty over that fixture given City’s postponement of today’s fixture against Everton due to a COVID-19 outbreak

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