Pulisic set for Chelsea start against Burnley

LONDON • With six victories on the trot in all competitions, Chelsea are aiming to keep up their fine run of form when they visit Burnley in the Premier League today.

While their winning streak has been fuelled in no small part by academy graduates like Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount, Fikayo Tomori and Callum Hudson-Odoi, another exciting young player is also knocking on the door of the first XI.

Christian Pulisic has found it hard to break into Frank Lampard's side, with his only start since Aug 31 coming in last month's 7-1 thrashing of Grimsby in the League Cup.

But there have been promising signs since - the American midfielder has impressed against Southampton, Newcastle and Ajax - he is in with a shout of starting at Turf Moor.

After setting up fellow substitute Michy Batshuayi's goal in their 1-0 win in Amsterdam on Wednesday to put his side top of Group H in the Champions League, Pulisic had vowed he was "going to keep fighting because this is where I want to be".

And Lampard has been bowled over by the 21-year-old's desire despite a difficult bedding-in process, declaring that he was "very, very happy with him playing like he's played the last two or three weeks".

Hinting the midfielder was firmly in his plans for the clash with the Clarets, the Chelsea manager said: "Sometimes, the toughest part of management is leaving out players who really want to play week in and week out.

"I see the big picture with him. I want him to be successful at this club because he's a good lad, he wants to do very well, that's very clear."

But, regardless of whether Pulisic starts or is on the bench against Sean Dyche's men, teammate Cesar Azpilicueta feels the American "is in a good moment" as he begins to pay back the £58 million (S$101 million) fee the Blues splashed out to secure his services from Borussia Dortmund in January.

The Chelsea captain added: "Fair play to Christian for working hard. When he has come on in the last two games, he has made a significant impact. He was running at people, creating chances."

Gregg Berhalter, the United States coach, also believes it is simply a case of "just adapting as the German game and the English game is completely different".

Insisting that Chelsea remain the best place for Pulisic to show his worth as "it's a more nurturing environment", he said: "He's not the only player in the world who has had a challenge at the beginning of a move.

"I have a lot of confidence in Frank Lampard that he's doing those things to get Christian to go where he needs to be... this is a different model."

THE GUARDIAN


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 26, 2019, with the headline 'Pulisic set for Chelsea start against Burnley'. Print Edition | Subscribe