Thomas Tuchel believes Christian Pulisic’s hunger for goals and assists can help springboard Chelsea closer to the Premier League top two.
The Blues currently trail league leaders Manchester City by 16 points, albeit with two games in hand on the champions, the first of which comes tonight at Carrow Road against Norwich City.
While our head coach is sceptical whether we can close the gap enough between now and the end of the season, he does believe the current group have all the attributes to challenge again next term, accepting we must match the incredible consistency produced by City and fellow challengers Liverpool.
In order to achieve that, Tuchel is looking for more from his attacking options and Pulisic enjoyed a productive afternoon in that sense last time out. The USA international registered a goal and an assist in our 4-0 win at Burnley on Saturday, starting in a fluid front three alongside Kai Havertz and Mason Mount.
‘He’s in a good moment and good form,’ reflected Tuchel. ‘It’s been good link-up between him, Mason and Kai so they have assists together, goals together, and they are decisive.’
Pulisic and Mount only turned 23 earlier this season, while Havertz does so in June, reflecting their collective youthfulness and the vast room they have to improve, both as individuals and together. For Pulisic, that Turf Moor showing took his goal involvements this term to eight, five of which have come in the Premier League.
In all competitions, the American is averaging a goal or assist every 176 minutes (Havertz is 180 minutes and Mount 155 minutes), but what more can he do to be even more prolific?
‘For me, what Christian can bring to the team is his physicality and his ability to hit high intensity very repetitively,’ explained Tuchel. ‘This is the focus and then the other thing is he has the ambition and the natural hunger to arrive in the six-yard box.
‘This is what we need and he needs to focus on these things and start from there. If he does and if he feels the physical fitness and ability to do so, he can have a huge influence on our game.’
Tuchel’s influence on this Chelsea squad has been similarly significant over the past 13 months and now the German is plotting how to bring the league title back to SW6 for the first time since 2017.
First he acknowledges the job is simply to continue our uptick in form and fortunes, avoiding a fall back into the fight for Champions League qualification.
‘We want to stay where we are at least and take what we can get from the guys above us but Man City and Liverpool produce these kind of results consistently throughout every month,’ he outlined. ‘They don’t drop in performance or points in certain months or certain periods.
‘This is what happened to us. The Covid situation and the injury situation in certain moments caught us and had a huge influence on our points but at this moment we have our form back and we play again a bit more fluid, active, lively, more attractive and nicer to watch.
‘We can feel the group stronger and stronger. This is how we got the results and this is the good news. If you look at our schedule, the next four matches come within the shortest possible time so we need to be spot-on.’