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A View From The Bridge

Opinion: Chelsea are underutilising Christian Pulisic and Hakim Ziyech

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Hakim Ziyech celebrates with Christian Pulisic of Chelsea.

Decoding Chelsea’s poor management of Christian Pulisic and Hakim Ziyech

Over the past few months, a number of Chelsea’s management decisions have left us baffled to the very core. Todd Boehly has had a disastrous start to life as the Blues owner and some of his calls have been horrendous.

One new story that has come to light since the beginning of the Qatar World Cup is how much Chelsea have under-utilised and to an extent underrated the potential of Hakim Ziyech and Christian Pulisic.

When we watch the two Chelsea wingers absolutely balling it out for their nations in arguably the biggest football competition there is, it begs the question of what it could have been for the Blues had they trusted the duo.

Hakim Ziyech and Christian Pulisic are being criminally under-utilized at Chelsea (Photo by GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images)
Hakim Ziyech and Christian Pulisic are being criminally under-utilised at Chelsea (Photo by GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images)

Yes, both players have had their fair share of injury issues during their time at the Bridge, but when fit, the duo are unbelievably talented and deserve to have the team built around them. Unfortunately, that has not been the case.

USMNT star Pulisic has played just 33% of the minutes possible in the Premier League this season and an even more paltry 19% of minutes in the Champions League. If you think that is bad, wait for Ziyech’s stats.

The 29-year-old Moroccan has played just 12% of the minutes possible in the English top flight and 10% of minutes in the Champions League. It is baffling how less Thomas Tuchel and then Graham Potter have used the duo.

It is not like Chelsea’s starting forwards have been having such a good season that they have been virtually undroppable. With the exception of Mason Mount, not one Blues player in the attacking areas has had a good time.

Chelsea’s big-name signing, Raheem Sterling has failed to convince and yet, he seems to be starting every single game whilst the likes of Pulisic and Ziyech have to cool their heels on the benches.

Ziyech and Pulisic have been standout players for their nations in the World Cup until now. Pulisic was arguably USMNT’s best player in his country’s impressive and unexpected 0-0 draw against England.

Hakim Ziyech's heatmap in his masterclass for Morocco against Belgium (via SofaScore)
Hakim Ziyech’s heatmap in his masterclass for Morocco against Belgium (via SofaScore)

The 24-year-old American was unlucky not to score in that game when he saw an excellent long-range effort come back off the crossbar. Pulisic also had an outstanding first game against Wales.

It speaks volumes of Ziyech’s talent when we take into account that Morocco sacked their manager months before the event to make sure that the Chelsea man was in the team for the tournament and he has not disappointed.

Ziyech had a decent game against Croatia although he did not come up with anything spectacular but it was in the game against Belgium which his country won 2-0 that the Blues winger really broke into life.

Graham Potter and Chelsea have quite a few questions to answer when it comes to Pulisic and Ziyech
 (Photo by George Wood/Getty Images)
Graham Potter and Chelsea have quite a few questions to answer when it comes to Pulisic and Ziyech
(Photo by George Wood/Getty Images)

The 29-year-old Chelsea man was really unlucky when he saw a spectacular free-kick ruled out for an offside just before half-time but he did get a much-deserved assist for Morocco’s second goal. 

It was not just about the stats for either of the players though. There is absolutely no doubt that both players in question are arguably their country’s most important ones and they have been unbelievably influential in these two games.

It is a timely reminder of what the duo can do when a team is built around them and Chelsea fans will really be hoping that Graham Potter is watching. It might not be long before one if not both players leave the Bridge unless their situation turns around dramatically. They have been linked with moves away from SW6 recently.

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Throughout Potter’s time at the helm of Chelsea, he has had so many questions arise without having answers for any of them. Ziyech and Pulisic have shown where the answers lie and let’s hope the former Brighton boss is smart enough to take that.

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