Pulisic Watch: USMNT star starts again in Chelsea - Aston Villa
Christian Pulisic is clearly back to full health, having started his fourth match since Dec. 15 in a 1-1 draw with Aston Villa on Monday,.
The 354 minutes since Dec. 15 mark his most over four matches since he started six-straight matches during Project Restart, going 90 in four of them.
Pulisic, 22, was a live wire again and helped set up Olivier Giroud’s opener while covering plenty of ground in a frenetic fight with Villa’s Matty Cash that left the American with a substandard stat line.
He also missed an in-tight off-balance chance as well as a dribble and drive from inside the 18.
Here’s a look at how Christian Pulisic played versus Aston Villa on Monday.
Minute-by-minute analysis of Christian Pulisic for Chelsea v. Arsenal
4th minute: The American is angry and comes up howling at the referee after a tackle from Matty Cash. Those two names will come up plenty over the next 86-plus minutes.
5th minute: Pulisic takes the ball off John McGinn and lays off for Mason Mount, who wins a corner kick.
9th minute: Takes a layoff on the left and works a 1-2 that leads to a big switch to Cesar Azpilicueta but Aston Villa deals with the chance.
11th minute: Breaks up a pass deep in his own third as Chelsea wins back possession but hastily clears it back to Villa.
12th minute: Pulisic steals a poor back pass from Grealish and zips past two defenders. He can’t wrap his foot around the ball and misses Emiliano Martinez’s near post.
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14th minute: Mount spins a cutback into the path of Pulisic but the American’s rip from 16 yards is blocked out for a corner by McGinn. Pulisic and Cash again battle on the touch line.
22nd minute: The Cash and Pulisic duel reaches a crescendo, though there was an accidental nature to Pulisic’s bicycle kick to a lunging Cash’s head. The right back was able to return to the match after significant treatment from trainers.
26th minute: Helps start a quick move through the middle that ends with Martinez claiming Ben Chilwell’s big cross toward Olivier Giroud.
33rd minute: A back post cross toward Giroud bounds into the air and behind Pulisic, who reaches back but is only able to pop the ball overhead and over the bar.
34th minute: It’s a hockey assist for Pulisic, who takes a backheeled layoff from Giroud and holds the ball deep into his dribble toward Grealish before slipping the ball wide to Chilwell, whose cross is powered home by Giroud. The Giroudisic chemistry remains very real.
40th minute: Moments after his blocked cross leads to Mason Mount shooting over the goal, Pulisic knifes his way into the box but is very well tackled by a sliding Cash.
50th minute: It’s Cash’s chance to turn provider as Pulisic is sucked in from the left to press Grealish, leaving the right back free to send a huge cross to the back post for El Ghazi to snap home for 1-1.
60th minute: Drives the left side toward the end line and chops a heated pass that is squared to Kante for a shot caught by Martinez.
65th minute: On the right side now, he delays a cross and nutmegs Matt Targett but can’t reclaim the ball on the other side of the Villa defender. He then darts into the heart of the six for a Mason Mount pass but it’s blocked before it gets to him.
66th minute: The Blues are all over Villa now, and Pulisic is offside when he heads toward the line moments before Cesar Azpilicueta taps home.
72nd minute: Lampard withdraws Giroud and Jorginho for Kai Havertz and Timo Werner, and Pulisic is back on the left and a bit further back.
78th minute: Pulisic cuts in from the right and unleashes a shot that looks a bit too high but Martinez tips it over the bar for safety and Chelsea has a corner.
86th minute: Mount pushes a pass through traffic to Pulisic on the left sideline, and the American drives toward the box to send a cross to the back post but Callum Hudson-Odoi isn’t making the run to meet it.
89th minute: Pulisic massages a pass through traffic to a striding Havertz, who wins a corner cleared by the Villans.
Stoppage time: Pulisic makes a neat move to free Mason Mount, who wants a foul on the edge of the area moments before Chilwell grazes the post.
Stat line: Four shots, two on target, 1-of-5 dribbles, 28-of-32 passes (88 percent), 58 touches, 2-of-15 duels won, two fouls, one interception, one tackle.