Chelsea have made huge strides since their latest managerial change, ousting Frank Lampard from his position at Stamford Bridge and replacing him with Thomas Tuchel.
The German has not only revitalised the Blues’ push for a top-four finish in the Premier League as he has put Chelsea fourth with nine matches remaining, holding their fate in their own hands.
Progression in the Champions League past a difficult tie against La Liga title chasers Atletico Madrid has also occurred, with Chelsea having a huge opportunity to reach the final four of the competition having been drawn with Porto in the quarter-finals.
Overall, Tuchel’s first few months in charge have been extremely successful but there have been casualties from his approach.
Christian Pulisic, who initially impressed at the club following his arrival from Borussia Dortmund, has hit a stumbling block this season and the arrival of Tuchel has presented him with further challenges.
Since Tuchel’s first game in charge in the Premier League, a goalless draw against Wolves, Pulisic has started just once in the league – which came in the goalless draw against Leeds United prior to the current international break.
Appearances off the bench were all the United States international could secure in the Champions League double-header against Atletico Madrid too, with other starts limited to the FA Cup fixtures against Barnsley and Sheffield United.
It’s therefore clear that, so far, Pulisic has not been able to settle down into a specific role in Tuchel’s plans – something which has been amplified by the variety of positions in which Pulisic has played under Tuchel.
Utilised as a central attacking midfielder in the 2-0 victory against Burnley, where he came off the bench at half-time, Pulisic then played as a supporting striker against Tottenham and a right-winger against Manchester United, then reverting to attacking midfield again against Liverpool.
Throw in a performance on the left-wing in the FA Cup against Barnsley and a cameo in the same role against Atletico and you are left with four different positions and no stability in either of the roles.
Competition in Chelsea’s attack is fierce, which makes things difficult for Pulisic as he has not had the opportunity to nail down a regular berth in the side – which becomes even more challenging when the variety of positions he has played has come into account.
It is, of course, difficult for Tuchel to work out where exactly Pulisic’s best position is as he hasn’t provided much of an impact this term, with two goals in 11 appearances as a left-winger alongside single assists from the right side and through the middle.
Last season, however, things were a lot more clear as the majority of Pulisic’s performances came from the left – where he contributed 11 goals and eight assists in 30 appearances playing in this position.
In contrast, his final season with Borussia Dortmund saw the majority of his chances come from the right – where he registered six goals and six assists in 26 appearances.
While Pulisic’s versatility is a great asset to have in the squad, it does hold him back significantly if he is unable to secure a regular role for himself – which should be his first point of call.
The difficulty, however, is doing that when a regular run of starts is not being presented. With Chelsea having found a decent system under Tuchel, it’s unlikely things will be shaken up after the international break as each match is crucial.
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In ordinary circumstances, the best thing for Pulisic would be for Chelsea to continue progressing in the Champions League and to secure a top-four finish swiftly, so that the final matches of the Premier League season can be less important.
However, the Blues face a challenging finale to their domestic campaign with Manchester City, Arsenal and Leicester City all to play in their final four fixtures of the season.
Pulisic may therefore have to wait until next season to really get going and should spend the summer focusing on a role in a specific position, one where he can propel himself forward next term to achieve the same sort of impact that he did in his first season in English football.
If that does not happen, Tuchel is likely to continue seeing Pulisic as the sort of player who can fit into a variety of roles when required, rather than being a key player he can call upon on a regular basis.