After scoring in back-to-back games for the first time in his Chelsea career, Christian Pulisic was understandably in good spirits in the aftermath of our significant 2-1 victory over Manchester City at Stamford Bridge.
The American’s most recent start had come on New Year’s Day, with a combination of a troublesome adductor injury and the global health pandemic keeping him sidelined for a challenging six months.
However, he came off the bench to inspire our comeback win at Aston Villa last weekend and was rewarded with a start against the reigning Premier League champions, a title the 21-year-old’s efforts ensured City could not boast at the final whistle as Liverpool were finally mathematically crowned league winners.
Frank Lampard claimed after the game that his plan had always been to use the 21-year-old as an impact player in the Midlands before starting him against Pep Guardiola’s side and the plan worked perfectly as Pulisic played a key role in inflicting defeat on the visitors.
‘The most important thing was that we got the three points that we desperately needed today,’ Pulisic reflected at the end of the first-ever competitive game behind closed doors in west London.
‘We looked at this game against a big opponent and we wanted to win it. We were at home, obviously in slightly different circumstances, but we’re happy that we came out and got a really good result.’
A killer instinct is something Lampard has been eager for his young team to develop this campaign and that ruthlessness was demonstrated in Pulisic’s goal. The forward charged forward to press the ball after a City free-kick had been cleared and then exploited a defensive mix-up between Benjamin Mendy and Ilkay Gundogan before motoring towards Ederson’s goal.
His penultimate touch to set the ball up to strike was exquisite and the stroked finish into the bottom far corner even more impressive. It was Pulisic’s seventh Premier League goal of this maiden season in English football, the most of any player in the competition aged 21 or under.
‘We have to capitalise on opportunities like that,’ he explained. ‘I had another one in the second half as well [which was cleared off the line by Kyle Walker] but I’m just happy to help the team out by scoring. We needed it and we’re just happy to get the three points.
‘We went into the game with a really confident mindset to go out and win. Obviously we want to finish the season strongly but we feel we’re capable of a lot more as well.’
Pulisic also paid tribute to Liverpool, who were crowned Premier League champions for the first time as a result of our victory over City, and their manager Jurgen Klopp, his former boss at Borussia Dortmund.
‘I wasn’t thinking about them too much when I scored but of course they’ve had a great season,’ he continued. ‘It’s incredible how they’ve maintained such a high level the whole season, continued to get close results and win tight games. That’s a credit to all their players and their manager – they’ve done an incredible job.’
As football returned to the Bridge for the first time in 109 days, Pulisic expressed his gratitude for the simple pleasure of being back out on the pitch and looked ahead at targets for the final five weeks of the season.
‘The break was tough on a lot of people but I’m just really happy that we can come back and play football again,’ he added. ‘It’s a bit different without the fans but we’re really excited to be back out there.
‘There are a lot of games to play. We want to go as far as we can in the FA Cup and we want to continue finishing strong so we can be secure in a Champions League spot. We have a lot to play for.’