This article is part of Football FanCast’s Off the Bench series, which places in-game managerial decisions and squad selections under FFC’s microscope.
Chelsea were beaten 1-0 by Valencia in the Champions League on Tuesday, with Mason Mount forced off early on with an injury. Instead of bringing on Pedro, Frank Lampard should have given Christian Pulisic the chance to prove himself.
Mount, one of the Blues’ most influential players, has already scored three goals this season and has an average Premier League rating of 7.82 across the first five games. It was unsurprising to see him start against the Spanish side, and there will have been a hope that he would put in another stellar performance.
However, he was unfortunately cut down in the first few minutes by a nasty challenge from Francis Coquelin. Clearly in discomfort, he attempted to carry on but admitted defeat 15 minutes into the match. On in his place came Pedro.
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The former Barcelona man may have the track record and the experience, but that counted for nothing on the night. It ended up being his worst display of the season so far as he picked up a WhoScored rating of just 5.95. With no dribbles, created chances or shots on target, he exerted no control over proceedings.
It is worth questioning what exactly Christian Pulisic has done wrong to see himself remain amongst the substitutes.
While he may have struggled in the first two games of the campaign, registering ratings of 6.09 and 6.58 against Manchester United and Leicester, the 21-year-old has shown strong signs of improvement. He has provided his first Premier League assist since then and has looked far more dangerous going forward.
He also has a decent track record in the Champions League, especially in 2016/17 when he averaged 7.09 across six matches as an 18-year-old. He has plenty to prove at Stamford Bridge since his move from Borussia Dortmund, and he would have no doubt been chomping at the bit to display his obvious talent.
In the end, though, Lampard went for the safer option, which is uncharacteristic of his reign in the Chelsea dugout so far which has seen a flurry of unproven talents feature heavily, including Mount and striker Tammy Abraham.
Everything may be easier in hindsight, but the former Derby County boss will surely be kicking himself for not bringing on the young USA international.