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Maybe Now we Might get Some Level-headedness towards Pulisic

Christian Pulisic

At the end of everything, Christian Pulisic forgot something. After a perfect hat-trick at Turf Moor, the American didn’t quite remember to get the match ball from referee Michael Oliver. ‘I honestly didn’t even think about it’, said Pulisic to Sky Sports afterwards. ‘Thankfully my teammates reminded me of it’. His mates may have reminded him of what to do after the match, but Pulisic sure did refresh our memory of what he does during matches. Because we’d all, not so much forgotten that he can do these things, but rather gone overboard that he wasn’t doing them on a regular basis.

Since joining from Borussia Dortmund in the summer – a move that was finalised in January, before Chelsea got their transfer ban – Pulisic hasn’t quite been seen on the pitch for the Blues. Prior to this game, he had started three league games and amassed 313 league minutes.

Not that it was unreasonable to not throw him in straight away. Since the start of the summer – thanks in no small part to the transfer ban – Frank Lampard has opted for the ‘kids’, and the young players haven’t disappointed, the likes of Fikayo Tomori at the back, and Tammy Abraham and Mason Mount at the other end, alongside Callum Hudson-Odoi who made his name last season, all shining bright. A combination of these blossoming youngsters and the presence of some older heads meant Pulisic had to patiently wait his turn. It was very much understandable.

What wasn’t understandable was the media coverage he was starting to get. Suddenly Pulisic was deemed to have looked lost. He was struggling, was the general agreement. He’s had a bad start, everyone seemed to say. Before this game at Burnley, Pulisic – in the league and Champions League – had garnered 337 minutes of playing time, and made three assists. To put it into context, that’s 0.8 assists per 90 minutes.

But it’s not just those numbers that told – or were supposed to tell. It’s also the fact that he’s looked lively – if not impactful – in games, with his movement, on and off the ball, and passes; he was particularly excellent in the first half of the UEFA Super Cup against Liverpool. Yet, somehow the consensus about him was negative.

His lacklustre performances for the American national team of recent didn’t, to be fair, help, yet everyone was apparently going overboard. There were rumours and discussions developing about whether Pulisic should seek a move elsewhere. ‘The first few months were definitely hard’, he told Sky. ‘I had a few starts then fell out a bit and had to get any minutes.’ That was it. He failed to get minutes. He never looked at sea, or troubled. The only reason his moments were in fits and starts was because he barely had his moments. Somehow, many failed to see this.

But, opefully, many would have sat back, watched, and taken note of the week he’s had. First, was the win at Ajax in the Champions League on Wednesday, where Pulisic was thrown on, and opened up what was a drab game, providing the assist for the only goal. Then there was this Saturday.

Three goals. Right foot. Left foot. Header. Sure, the first goal came from a Matt Lowton error, and the second took a deflection on its way in, but to focus on those would depriving Pulisic of due credit. Both goals happened because he was the best player on the pitch, because of brilliant movement and incisive runs; driving at defenders, finding teammates in space.

This was the Pulisic trademark on show. These are his prominent qualities, which he hasn’t displayed often this campaign because he hasn’t quite been given the chance to. And here, when he was handed the opportunity, he more than took it. No player had more shots, shots on target, or key passes at Turf Moor.

The icing on the cake came in the second half, when he headed in a Mason Mount cross to complete his treble, putting the seal on classy performance; with chants of ‘USA! USA!!’ coming from the away fans. He forgot the match ball in the end, but he’ll always remember this.

A Tale of Arsenal and VAR

Wilfried Zaha went down in the box, and was booked for simulation. In other seasons, that would have been that, and conversation would move to the hateful social media fans throwing abuse at the Palace man for throwing himself on the floor (they probably still might anyways). But, this time, there was VAR, Martin Atkinson consulted and then cancelled the yellow, gave a penalty, Luka Milivojevic did the needful, and Arsenal’s lead was halved.

The Gunners had steamrolled into a two-goal advantage, both centre-backs scoring inside the first nine minutes. But 2-0 up became 2-2 six minutes into the second half as Palace scored again. Then it looked like the winner had come six minutes for Arsenal from time, when Sokratis scored his second.

Except Atkinson had his hand in his ear again, then disallowed the goal for a foul, for what looked like a coming-together between three players. The Gunners denied victory, but there’s some humour in the fact that this came from a technology that was introduced partly because their former manager always found ways to blame the officials. Their current manager may well be under pressure.

Elsewhere

Quite a week for Manchester United, pulling off a non-defeat against Liverpool, then two away wins in a row. The latter of them was at Norwich, featuring three goals, two by the main strikers, with the third courtesy of some nice interplay between the duo. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side were so good, they could even afford to miss two penalties.

Victory followed by defeat. Typical Everton. Next!

Just the nine goals for Leicester City at Southampton, as the Foxes ran past the hapless ten-man Saints. They even had the audacity to keep celebrating after five goals. For shame.

Results

Burnley 2-4 Chelsea;
Manchester City 3-0 Aston Villa; Brighton 3-2 Everton; Southampton 0-9
Leicester; Newcastle 1-1 Wolves; Watford 0-0 Bournemouth; West Ham 1-1
Sheffield United; Arsenal 2-2 Crystal Palace; Liverpool 2-1 Tottenham; Norwich
1-3 Manchester United

Kunle Ajao121 Posts

Kunle Ajao is a football writer and columnist for spotkick. Having made a toss of himself trying to actually play the game, he knew better and got a pen instead of boots. Spends a bit of his time with the game, and thinks he's a bit like Sid Lowe. He's not

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