Christian Pulisic starred for Chelsea for the third straight game, this time in Sunday’s 1-0 FA Cup quarterfinal win over Leicester City. Unfortunately, the American winger may also have gotten hurt again in the process.
“Christian felt a tightness in his calf in the second drinks break,” manager Frank Lampard said after the match, from which he yanked Pulisic in the 72nd minute. “Hopefully nothing that keeps him out.”
It was no surprise to see Pulisic back in Lampard’s starting lineup following his goal against Manchester City in Premier League play, his second in as many games. And once again, the 21-year-old was dangerous almost every time he touched the ball.
He forced a pair of fine saves from Leicester keeper Kasper Schmeichel in the first half. He appeared to have set up a Tammy Abraham strike in the second, but Abraham was correctly flagged for offside. Substitute Ross Barkley eventually scored the only goal Chelsea would need to advance to the semis:
Pulisic was not involved on the winner. But given the slim advantage and the contributions he’d made to that point, it seemed odd that Lampard would summon Pulisic from the field. The decision quickly made sense when television cameras showed a grimacing Pulisic having his left calf immediately wrapped in ice by a member of the Blues training staff.
Lampard’s optimism is a good sign, but it remains to be seen whether Pulisic will be good to go for the Blues’ next contest, against relegation candidate West Ham on Wednesday. Chelsea has seven league matches remaining between now and July 27.
But then the potential for injury was always was always part of the danger of cramming in what would’ve been the final two months of them Prem season, plus the FA Cup, into a five-week window this summer. So far, giving each team two additional subs for the remainder of this coronavirus-cursed seasons hasn’t seemed to do much to prevent players’ bodies from breaking down.
With eight goals and six assists in 25 matches across all competitions, injuries have been about the only minus in Pulisic’s otherwise superb first season in London. The unprecedented pause in the 2019-20 campaign actually allowed the former Borussia Dortmund prodigy to recover fully from a torn adductor that had already sidelined him for more than two months. In all, Pulisic has missed 11 games — plus a pair of international contests for the U.S. — with leg and foot issues.
The Blues will meet Manchester United in the FA Cup semifinals, which will be played July 18-19.
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