After a fantastic result against Burnley we as Chelsea fans still couldn’t escape the ongoing injury crisis. Christian Pulisic hasn’t had any luck recently, however this constant shift of a lockdown and then playing again can’t be good for any of the players.
Pulisic has been one of these players who has really suffered. Another hamstring strain really is a shame as he looked like he was coming back to some form.
On the positive side Thiago Silva is proving to be a revelation at the back. His positioning is phenomenal and the way he commands the rest of the back line is exactly what Chelsea need.
The most important thing this week is that Reece James is finally beginning to look like he can defend as well as attack! A fantastic prospect for the rest of the season.
First up though, I’m going to be looking at our Eden Hazard replacement. Christian Pulisic. His first season in a blues shirt was somewhat plagued with injury. He missed large parts of the season due to various injuries.
Fortunately the lockdown period from March through to May actually helped in his recovery period. By helped I mean he came back post lockdown a different player for Chelsea.
Man City, Liverpool, Crystal Palace and the first half of the Cup Final are just a few of the sublime performances he put in for the blues. Pulisic genuinely played without fear throughout the remainder of the season. The mazy run against the then Champions of England was proof of that. Not to mention when he turned Virgil inside out to score the goal to make it 4-3. He only played around half an hour of the game against Liverpool and he totally changed the complexion of how Chelsea attacked the Liverpool defence.
As someone that has played as a left-wing-back (A la Alonso) I can say that when you have a player like Pulisic running at you not just for 90 minutes but even a 20 minute period, it really gets to your legs because you’re always back-pedalling and sooner or later you’ll get exposed as you just can’t maintain that perfect concentration required to then stop such a lethal winger.
Sooner or later the winger will beat you and he will either be one on one with the keeper or ready to square it to his centre forward. This is what I think he shares so strongly with Eden. He would do the exact same thing. The only difference I can seem to find between them both is the fact Hazard could shoot and score from pretty much anywhere within 30 yards.
Pulisic doesn’t seem to have that same ability to score like that. However, there is plenty of time for him to develop and become a stronger addition to this Chelsea team. As our number ten, I can see him being at the forefront of the future success for our great club.
Next up is our new strong man, Thiago Silva. Now he’s featured against us many times for PSG in the Champions League. I used to hate the fact he could out-Costa Diego when the fights would start, I hated it even more so when he then would get in the way of pretty much any attack we had (apart from the one that Demba Ba was a part of!) Now he’s a blue though, I kinda like the guy. He seems to fit into this Chelsea team without any problems at all. The way he commands the back line is a joy to watch, it’s evident he’s a player with a vast amount of experience.
I recently watched the ‘All or Nothing’ series on Amazon that featured the 2019 Brazil Copa America winning team. Silva, although not captain for this team, showed such desire to put in 110% effort, more so than I expected. In the training sessions that were shown you could see how ferocious he was off the pitch in the gyms wanting to improve so he could have the ability to give his best.
The same could be seen in the most recent Champions League Final. Thiago kept a real lid on Lewandowski. The same player that has equalled Cristiano Ronaldo’s records this calendar year. The man didn’t get a sniff in the final and I think that’s all down to how well Thiago followed and marked him so tightly. I’ve also noticed in the last few games that Thiago also plays the same sweeping cross field balls that both JT and Bonucci play. It helps the team shift across the pitch but it can also take pressure off certain areas of the pitch which in turn allows players to re-group.
Overall I think he will be a huge part of our season. I just hope the Chelsea medical team can figure out a way to keep him fit for at least two seasons because his experience is proving invaluable.
Lastly a little on Reece James. Another player this year who has taken me by surprise. Last season I can only think of one game where Reece really showed his defensive capability and that was of course the game against Palace where he kept Zaha next to his keys in his pocket.
Since that match however his defending has been a touch questionable. His attacking play is fantastic and given a few years there’s no reason as to why he wont be at the same level as Trent. But please for the love of god I hope he can stay constituent defensively.
Again this last few games I think it’s safe to say his defending has been far better. He defended superbly against Sevilla and again against Man United. But the aspect of his game that I really am enjoying is the way he attacks down the wing. Adding his sublime delivery to the equation and he acts almost as a second winger for Chelsea.
When Reece James first started playing for Wigan and was putting in the performances I still was unknown to his exploits. My cousin Marco however was not. Every other week on Twitter I’d see tweets that consisted with some abuse towards Azpi followed by ‘recall Reece James he’s far better’.
Well Marco, you knew things many of us Chelsea fans probably didn’t! I’m looking forward to watching his development as a Chelsea player. If Frank chooses to keep having Reece as a roaming right-back then I think it’s going to be another positive season for the Chelsea youngsters. Mason Mount, Tammy Abraham and now Reece are really showing what they’re about to us Chelsea fans, and I can’t wait to see what they can achieve.