Today’s match was emotional. All of the matches today were emotional. I just watched the highlights from the Manchester United vs. Crystal Palace game and watching Marcus Rashford miss that penalty made me want to curl into a ball and, rather than go sit in the corner, roll myself down a flight of stairs. The kid doesn’t miss penalties. If anyone else on Man U ever takes penalties instead of him, it will be a grave error.
But let’s talk about Chelsea! Let’s talk about Cha Boi: Christian Pulisic.
But first let’s talk about the match as a whole.
And then we’ll get to David Luiz, who famously abandoned his “beloved” Chelsea at the beginning of the season to join arch rivals Arsenal. I think there’s some sort of word that describes what happened to David Luiz in the match versus Liverpool today. I can’t quite remember what it is, but I feel like it rhymes with “kajarmah.”
Tammy Abraham looked like a roman candle that’s been dropped on the ground and is causing everyone to run for cover.
A few things I really liked about Chelsea’s starting lineup against Norwich City today. 1) Ross Barkley started. Has anyone noticed how Ross Barkley on the ball is something akin to rubbing your cheek against a 6,000 thread count Egyptian hand towel? I’ve seen few other people with such control. Such cheekiness. Such calmness. Granted, he did make a few bad decisions. He did have a few giveaways. But he also made a few decisions that were incredibly on point and will never be praised. Decisions like stopping his run and letting a defender fly by. And what about that run on the ball from the corner of the 18? The announcer compared him to Maradona. I just hope Barkley doesn’t have a drug problem.
And then there’s Mateo Kovacic, one of (at least) two wizards on the team with a Croatian passport. The guy is feral. He eats defenders for brunch. He spits them out. He picks his teeth with their tibias. I’ve seen few other players display such grit and grace.
The point I’m trying to make is this: Either Ross Barkley or Mateo Kovacic NEED TO START. FRANK, YOU HAVE GREATNESS AT YOUR DISPOSAL. DISPOSE OF IT. STOP PLAYING PEDRO FOREVER. Imagine N’golo Kante at midfield with Ross Barkley. Imagine Kovacic and Barkley and Kante all on the field at, dare I say it…. (actually I think I won’t, because Frank will never do it.)
(Side note: Kovacic actually grew up in Austria until he was 13. He was born in Linz Bosnian Croatian parents.)
Christian Pulisic, in his second straight Premier League start, played much better than he did last week against Leicester City. He had few giveaways, looked more comfortable on the ball, fought harder, and even had an assist.
He also had several goal scoring opportunities, including one where he freaked and deeked and made me feel like I was wearing diapers — but wasn’t able to finish. One question continues to loom: Can Christian Pulisic become comfortable with the physicality of the Premier League. Answer: (Spoken by several barristers in unison) Yay.
But it will take time. The Bundesliga is not the Premier League. Pulisic is not the biggest player in the world. When you get hit in the Premier League a lot of times a funny thing happens: The ref does nothing.
But he will adjust.
To barely pull of a win against a team that’s just been promoted doesn’t exactly inspire confidence, but it also completely inspires confidence. Tammy Abraham looked like a roman candle that’s been dropped on the ground and is causing everyone to run for cover. Mason Mount was up to his usual tricks, i.e. scoring a goal that looked like it might occasion a hole in the back of the net, and the aforementioned Ross Barkley was a welcome addition to the lineup even though everyone seems to hate him for some reason. I don’t hate him. I might even love him.
As for David Luiz, I will leave you with this (for best viewing experience, make full screen, take a sniff of some smelling salts, and replay the first few seconds of the clip over and over):