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Before the game against Newcastle, Chelsea boss Frank Lampard had a short message to Christian Pulisic – impress me on the training ground and impress me on the pitch.
Pulisic has had limited playing time since the end of August and he has found himself struggling to even make the Chelsea bench, a far cry from the £58m expectation placed on him following his move from Borussia Dortmund.
Lampard’s message to Pulisic before the game was: “Christian, as with every player in the squad, needs to work hard in training, keep improving in training, see the direction we’re going, be a part of it, and show what you can do on a match day, and all the players are the same there.”
With Chelsea finding it difficult to go past a rigid Newcastle defence, Lampard’s first throw of the dice (Kovacic’s introduction was forced) was to bring on Pulisic in place of Mason Mount who failed to impress today.
Pulisic had a 26 minute audition to show what he can do to help the team and he looked Chelsea’s brightest player after coming on.
Pulisic could even scored just five minutes after coming on but his close-range shot was brilliantly saved by Dubravka.
He also set up a glorious chance for Tammy Abraham, who saw what should have been a tap-in miraculously cleared to safety by DeAndre Yedlin.
At the end, Pulisic made a decisive contribution by combining well with Hudson-Odoi to create space for Alonso to fire home with just 17 minutes remaining.
The exciting thing about Pulisic’s performance was that he played from the middle and not the wing and he still did brilliantly, using his tricks and pace to unsettle the Newcastle defence.
Captain America has indeed sent a message to Frank Lampard, and he has no reason to remain on the bench if he continues to put up this kind of performance.