Chelsea’s young American star Christian Pulisic once again made a big impact for the Blues on Wednesday. But Frank Lampard’s team was lousy in defense, falling 3-2 at relegation-threatened West Ham after conceding in the 89th minute. The Blues led 1-0 and tied the match at 2-2 with about 20 minutes to go, yet could not take any points from a team that only had won one Premier League match since New Year’s Day.
Pulisic had come off in the second half of Chelsea’s win at Leicester on Sunday in the FA Cup due to tightness in his calf, but he surprisingly got the start in this one, recovering and building on really good form as of late. The 21-year-old drew a penalty in the first half — which Willian converted for the game’s first goal — before winning a second-half free kick at the top of the box. Willian also put away in spectacular fashion.
Here’s the free kick, which you’ve got to see:
Pulisic was quick, decisive and threatening on the ball and put together one of his best performances despite not showing up on the stat sheet. He was constantly smart with the ball, acrobatically put the ball in dangerous positions and was responsible for setting up both of his team’s goals. Pulisic was Chelsea’s best player on the pitch and played 90 minutes.
While Pulisic was fantastic, the defense was not. Chelsea conceded on all three of West Ham’s shots on target, hurting the squad’s top-four chances in the process with Antonio Rudiger having a nightmare performance.
Here’s what to know about the result and what it means for Pulisic, the Blues and West Ham:
What does the loss mean for Chelsea?
The Blues are still the favorite to finish in fourth place, but this was a chance to move into third and jump Leicester City. Chelsea now has both Manchester United and Wolves two points back, meaning their Champions League spot is far from locked up. Here’s a look at the Premier League table with each team below having six games remaining:
3. Leicester City: 55 points, +29 goal differential
4. Chelsea: 54 points, +13 GD
5. Man United: 52 points, +20 GD
6. Wolves: 52 points, +11 GD
Lampard’s squad went from a fine win against Manchester City to conceding three goals to a team that hadn’t scored since Feb. 29.
The good news for Chelsea is that next up are Watford and Crystal Palace — both teams the Blues should handle. But the same was said about the West Ham match.
What does Pulisic’s performance mean for him?
Pulisic continues to deliver and is making it nearly impossible for Lampard to take him out. Let’s recap, shall we?
Since play returned in June, Pulisic has:
- Played in all four matches
- Earned three starts
- Scored two goals
Add on winning the penalty kick and the free kick vs. the Hammers, and you can argue that he’s been Chelsea’s best player in the team’s last three Premier League games.
He’s the hot foot right now. While it wouldn’t be all that surprising to see him kept out of the starting lineup on Saturday against Watford due to the minutes he’s accumulated, Pulisic has earned every start he gets for the rest of the season.
What does the result mean for West Ham?
This was far and away West Ham’s biggest result of the season and sees them pull the double over the Blues for the first since 2003 (West Ham also beat Chelsea 1-0 in November). For a team that had really struggled to put the ball away, this could be the turning point for David Moyes’ club. The Hammers move to 16th place and three points clear of the drop zone with six games to go.
The winning goal from Andriy Yarmolenko was a thing of beauty and undoubtedly earned the Ukranian more minutes. Take a look:
West Ham is far from safe, but just one more win might be enough to get them there.