Chelsea head coach Frank Lampard hailed the continued development of Christian Pulisic after another game-changing contribution in his side’s 3-2 win at Crystal Palace.
Pulisic has been producing standout performances for Chelsea since the restart, and he scored his eighth Premier League goal in only his 16th start at Selhurst Park, with his latest strike likely to lead to further comparisons with Eden Hazard.
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Lampard, whose side moved up to third in the Premier League after withstanding late pressure at Palace, is delighted to see the winger bringing consistency to his end product.
“He’s got great talent,” Lampard said. “He came here in difficult conditions at the start of the season in terms of not having a break but he’s moved his game on to another level – not just in terms of how he’s going by people but he’s got real end product.
“You look around at the top attacking talent in the world, they score goals regularly that win games and at the moment he’s doing that, so I’m delighted with him.”
Neville: Pulisic growing into something special
Chelsea signed the American playmaker in a £58m deal from Bundesliga giants Borussia Dortmund last summer.
Speaking as co-commentator for Sky Sports, Gary Neville was quick to heap praise on Pulisic for his sublime finish at the near post for his third goal in six games.
Sheff Utd vs Chelsea
July 11, 2020, 5:00pm
Neville said: “He’s impressing me enormously. He gets one on one [with the defender]. Ward does all he can to force him on the outside. You don’t expect him to do that.
“Ordinarily you’d say the goalkeeper [has to do better] but he has no chance. It was so fast. It was devastating from Pulisic. Hazard did it over a long period of time during a fantastic career at Chelsea.
“He was nowhere near that world-class level when he signed but we’re witnessing him grow and there’s something special there.”
Lampard gets his substitutions right
Chelsea have now won 132 of their 256 London derbies in the Premier League; their 52 per cent win rate is the highest for any side in such matches.
Lampard’s substitutions made an impact with Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Tammy Abraham combining for the crucial third goal, while Jorginho had a calming influence for the final 10 minutes.
But this was a mixture of the good and bad seen throughout the season from Lampard’s side, with Kepa Arrizabalaga tipping Scott Dann’s header onto the post before Kurt Zouma made a vital last-ditch block to deny Christian Benteke a second.
“Considering the quality in our midfield during the first half, today wasn’t our greatest day,” Lampard said.
“We weren’t as slick with the ball as we have been recently, and gave them the opportunity to press us and turn over possession. I thought Ruben could use his strength to drive with the ball and Tammy could stretch their defence with his running so I’m very pleased he got his goal.
“They’re a big three points because of the position we’re in. It’s tight around us and it’s nice mentally to be third for maybe a short period. The game could’ve been more comfortable for us tonight but then we could also have lost those three points at the end there.
“It might be nice to dwell on the three points, but my job is to look into how we can get better and I feel we still can.”
Chelsea led early thanks to Olivier Giroud’s second goal in as many matches, but only after Gary Cahill had pulled up with a hamstring injury leading up to the goal.
Lampard had sympathy for his former Chelsea team-mate, but feels there was no need for his players to stop playing.
“It was a bad injury, with the way he went down, but we had to finish the action,” he said. “There’s no way we were going to kick the ball out in that situation but you obviously feel sorry for him on an individual note. I know for head injuries, the game would stop but not in those situations.”
Hodgson ‘feared the worst’ after Cahill blow
Crystal Palace have now lost four consecutive matches for the first time since March 2018 – the fourth game in that run was also against Chelsea.
The home side’s starting XI was 30 years and 351 days, the oldest of any starting XI in the competition this season, but Hodgson was pleased with the effort shown by his players, feeling that they deserved something from the game.
The Eagles could be without Cahill for the rest of the season should tests confirm he sustained a hamstring tear, but the Palace boss was encouraged by the resolve shown by his players in responding to the double early setback.
“It was a very good performance,” Hodgson reflected. “One feared the worst when we lost Gary Cahill but the players overcame that unbelievable piece of bad luck to play well in that half. To come back from 2-0 was a really good effort and I can’t fault the players. On another day, we might have taken something from the game but that’s another defeat.
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