Christian Pulisic, Hakim Ziyech: Why Chelsea Players Are Performing Well in World Cup 2022 but Not in England

Christian Pulisic, Hakim Ziyech: Why Chelsea Players Are Performing Well in World Cup 2022 but Not in England

Martin Moses
November 29, 2022 at 10:18 AM
  • Christian Pulisic and Hakim Ziyech have taken the World Cup by storm by shining for their respective countries
  • Ziyech was the orchestrator in chief when Morocco shocked Belgium, while Pulisic has been a lovely figure for the USA
  • However, for players who have struggled to perform consistently for Chelsea, their current form is baffling

The World Cup break came at an opportune time for Chelsea fans, with their club struggling to keep pace in the English top flight.

Chelsea had won only one game in their last five games and are currently languishing in eighth place. The sacking of Thomas Tuchel and the subsequent hiring of Graham Potter has not had the desired impact.

Christian Pulisic, Hakim Ziyech, Chelsea, Morocco, World Cup
Chelsea stars Christian Pulisic and Hakim Ziyech. Photo by Glyn Kirk.
Source: Getty Images

Surprises like Saudi Arabia beating Argentina and Japan vanquishing Germany are common in tournament football. But Chelsea fans have been treated to an extra surprise; that of their 'flops' shining for their national teams.

Christian Pulisic and Hakim Ziyech are leading the charge of the United States of America and Morocco at the FIFA World Cup, respectively. Both sides are on the brink of qualification to the round of 16 and have played a starring role.

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Different World Cup form

However, their form at Chelsea sharply contrasts their beautiful showing in Qatar. In fact, both came close to leaving Chelsea in the summer. The two wingers have only shown glimpses of their immense talent since arriving from Borussia Dortmund and Ajax.

Pulisic came in with the big task of replacing club legend Eden Hazard. The only time Pulisic has arguably risen to the occasion was after the imposed coronavirus lockdown.

But why do they struggle? It goes without saying that their national team coaches use them in the positions they want to be played. Morocco's Head Coach Walid Regragui is on record saying Ziyech will perform if given 'some amount of love.'

Playing out of position

Pulisic loves coming through the left wing. It is the position where he built his famous nickname Captain America. Ziyech meanwhile has a geometry set for a left foot and thus would be more effective from the right. Just ask Kepa Arrizabalaga or Hugo Lloris.

However, at Chelsea, we rarely see them play in those positions. Tuchel had a knack for playing Chelsea players out of position. In one game against Everton at the start of the season, Tuchel had Armando Broja, a striker playing as a left winger, Raheem Sterling, a winger playing as a number 9 with Pulisic operating from the left flank. Get the logic? The whole front three was misplaced.

Ziyech was deployed as a wingback in Tuchel's back three formation. Pulisic has also been used as a wingback by the new boss Potter.

Sterling and Mount

A good player is supposed to be versatile, but it doesn't help when they are blatantly played out of position every time. Sterling and Mason Mount similarly had decent games for England against Iran despite their struggles just before the break.

This might not be the only reason, as Chelsea's history with attackers is not that efficient for a top-six club. In recent years, Hazard, Didier Drogba and perhaps Diego Costa were the only regular goal scorers.

Perhaps solving the position issue could be a place to start for Potter when they resume. Use wingbacks as wingbacks and let wingers be wingers and in the right wing.

Pulisic wants to leave Chelsea

Sports Brief had earlier reported that Chelsea star Christian Pulisic has been linked with a stunning January move to rivals Manchester United.

The American international is said to have set his sights on departing Stamford Bridge following his tumultuous spell with the Blues.

Pulisic has found playing time hard to come by since falling down the pecking order under former boss Thomas Tuchel.

Martin Moses photo
Martin Moses
Editor- EPL I Serie A
English Premier League - EPLGraham PotterHakim ZiyechThomas Tuchel