There has always been a discussion on whether Pulisic is a “10” or a winger and the reason is not far-fetched. It was primarily because the United States Men National Soccer Team lacks any sort of player for the roles and secondarily because of how easily attacking midfielders are converted to wingers nowadays.
Christian Pulisic under Frank Lampard played central midfield against Newcastle and it worked out well. The competition for that role might not be the right thing Pulisic wants at the moment.
His matches both for the US and Chelsea while playing central midfield has shown he isn’t really at his best in that position. It might be a blurred line at the moment but we can’t act like we don’t see how often he rotated out with a wide player as the attack progressed. A closer look at his games for the US where he has had to play centrally will make this obvious enough for anybody to see.
Over the weekend, he was brought on to play a similar role with an advanced touch to it this time. His rotations with Willian in particular helped to get Chelsea over the line by the end of the match.
Where Pulisic has a higher chance
The wing is his best chance at being a regular player on Frank Lampard’s team. Looking at his game, one can assume that is his natural playground and the competition for playtime there isn’t as tough as fighting for a space in the midfield.
With Hudson-Odoi holding the left-wing, that leaves two old wingers (Willian and Pedro) which is a very fair competition for Pulisic.
So far this season, Willian has done very well but that still does not put him ahead of Pulisic, if his form and training catches up. Pedro, on the other hand, is starting to lose form and his future in the club is not very much guaranteed, just as much as Willian’s as there are rumors making rounds about his exit.
Willian and Pedro shouldn’t be a tough competition for Pulisic to beat. It is either he works his way in over them or he waits them out this season to see if their form drops. Getting a chance over them at a point is inevitable.
Why the midfield is bad for Pulisic
Playing in the midfield might be bad for Pulisic. His competition is Mason Mount, Ross Barkley, and Ruben Loftus-Cheek, all young players who still have the fight in them. Pulisic does not stand a chance fighting for a midfield spot against Mason Mount.
As much as the US fans will want to criticize Frank Lampard for favoring English players over others, we know how many foreign players the manager has in his starting XI and understand that Mason Mount is just a better player in the midfield than Pulisic.
With that in mind, it’s best for Pulisic to line up on the wing now that he has shown Lampard that is an option. Much like Mount, it could reach a point where it is more important to play Pulisic in the wing and that could be to the player’s benefit.
Pulisic showed his quality after a tough week. Hopefully, Lampard’s desire to sub him on was one part backing the player, one part trusting him to make the difference from the center. But if Pulisic does get trapped into being a “central” player, then his competition for minutes will have increased greatly over the likes of Willian and Pedro.
This is a position he might want to try as much as possible to avoid.