Christian Pulisic’s best run in a Chelsea shirt came on the left of Frank Lampard’s 4-3-3 formation. Most people refer to the project restart form in the summer of 2020, but even earlier in the same season he provided similar moments of inspiration in the same area. Pulisic’s winning goal for the USA against Iran on Tuesday felt like a move copied from Chelsea that year.
The creativity coming from the right, before Pulisic makes a diagonal run from the left to put the ball home from close range. Gregg Berhalter has deployed Pulisic in the same role in Qatar and it has had positive effects.
The 23-year-old set up the USA’s other goal in the World Cup group stages, again moving inside from the left wing, driving at the heart of the Wales defence before sliding through Timothy Weah who smartly finished. Although the second game ended in a goalless draw with England, it was hard to miss Pulisic’s influence, striking Jordan Pickford’s bar with a thunderous left-footed effort in the first half.
Again looking to push his nation to a huge winner in the second. He won the player of the match that night with the most dribbles completed, the most shots, and the second-most duels and fouls won. He completed seven passes into the final third and creating one chance. It was a noteworthy performance in a role he has struggled to get consistent minutes in at Chelsea since 2020.
The goal against Iran was Pulisic at his most dangerous, anticipating where a ball might land inside the box and ensuring he is in the best place to bundle home, even if it causes injury to himself as it did when he collided with Iran goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand . A moment that ended his night but demonstrated his best attribute.
At Chelsea, it has been rarer to see Pulisic in this mood. Under Thomas Tuchel it is believed Pulisic had grown frustrated with his place as an impact substitute or being moved around into unfamiliar roles across last season. That led to a summer of speculation with even talk of a loan to Manchester United touted in August, and even recent links to Arsenal , however far-fetched that may be. Since Graham Potter’s arrival in September, Pulisic has enjoyed some better moments, playing on the left wing and scoring in one of Chelsea’s rare high points this season in a 3-0 win over Wolves.
Although it was in a 3-4-3, Potter started Pulisic on the left wing in the League Cup clash with Manchester City shortly before the World Cup break, a game where he should have scored and looked threatening in transition. When Pulisic does return to Stamford Bridge after the World Cup, the only way he can likely commit to a longer stay in west London would be playing in the role he can do the most damage, as proven in Qatar.