Christian Pulisic is 'inspiration' for Chelsea in his first appearance since Jan. 1

Christian Pulisichad not played for Chelsea since Jan. 1, first because of an adductor injury and then the shutdown because of the coronavirus pandemic, but he needed only five minutes to score in his return off the bench on Sunday.

Pulisic scored the tying goal in the 60th minute, and French World Cup champion Olivier Giroud, another sub, added what proved to be the winner two minutes later that gave the Blues a 2-1 win at Aston Villa.

The three points extended Chelsea's lead over Manchester United and Wolves to five points in the battle for fourth place and England's final UEFA Champions League berth next season.

Pulisic has been in and out of the Chelsea lineup in his first season in the Premier League. He was outstanding in October and November, but his playing time and form dipped during Chelsea's year-end holiday fixtures after making eight straight starts in Chelsea's run of eight games in 23 days after the November FIFA break.

Chelsea manager Frank Lampard said Pulisic was ready to go after the long layoff.

"He will start games for us, of course, and I think he's going to be a big player for us, not just in this run-in but going forward," he said. "He was hungry. I know that and I felt for him, as I felt for the players with long-term injuries."

Pulisic raced in from the left wing and met right back Cesar Azpilicueta's cross and first-timed it into the roof of the net. The goal was Pulisic's sixth this season in the Premier League. The other five goals came in a span of three games before the November break.

"The ability he's got to arrive in the box, it's a big thing," added Lampard. "I've spoken about it with him all season."

Pulisic has started only 12 of Chelsea's first 30 games, but Lampard says he will get plenty of chances with Chelsea's run of eight Premier League games in 32 days, beginning Thursday against Manchester City, plus games in the FA Cup (beginning with the quarterfinals against Leicester City next Sunday) and Champions League (completing the series it trails to Bayern Munich, 3-0, in August).

"The individuals who make the difference should always take all the credit, so with Christian and Ross Barkley, who came on at the same time, they're both players who have trained well and had cases to start this game," added Lampard. "We knew that fitness would play a part, so the idea of bringing on Christian and Ross early in the second half was always something that was in my mind. The way it was going, we needed a bit of inspiration, and Christian gave it with his goal. I thought Ross did really well, too. I keep saying to the players how important subs could be in this period, and they showed that."

Premier League, Standings:
1. Liverpool 83 points
2. Man City (29 games) 60 points
3. Leicester 54 points
4. Chelsea 51 points
5. Man United 46 points (45-31)
6. Wolves 46 points (43-34)
7. Sheffield United 44 points
8. Tottenham 42 points (48-41)
9. Crystal Palace 42 points (28-32)
10. Arsenal 40 points
11. Burnley (29 games) 39 points
12. Everton 38 points (37-46)
13. Newcastle 38 points (28-41)
14. Southampton 37 points
15. Brighton 32 points
16. Watford 28 points
17. West Ham 27 points (35-52)
18. Bournemouth 27 points (27-47)
19. Aston Villa 26 points
20. Norwich 21 points

1 comment about "Christian Pulisic is 'inspiration' for Chelsea in his first appearance since Jan. 1".
  1. Wooden Ships, June 22, 2020 at 12:53 p.m.

    Good to see CP back out there and to get one. Hope Chelsea can hang in for the Champions League spot. 

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