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Perfection from Pulisic: Chelsea's Captain America has arrived in the Premier League

21:34 EAT 26/10/2019
Christian Pulisic Chelsea Burnley
The winger has struggled since arriving at Stamford Bridge during the summer but he kickstarted his Blues career with a fine hat-trick at Burnley

This was the game that Christian Pulisic had been waiting for.

A perfect hat-trick for Captain America, his first goals in a Chelsea shirt, and a day he will remember forever.

Much has been said and written about the 21-year-old’s suitability to Premier League football but here at Turf Moor he answered the doubters.

His most promising form for the Blues had indeed preceded this game; he’d been building up to this one, where he built the platform for a hard-earned 4-2 victory over Burnley.

Manager Frank Lampard said beforehand that Callum Hudson-Odoi was in need of a rest but, equally, the United States international was deserving of his opportunity from the get-go.

Pulisic had not started in the Premier League since the last weekend of August. But recent substitute performances – against Newcastle last weekend and in the Champions League midweek against Ajax – ultimately convinced Lampard that it was worth including him against the Clarets.

And where he and goalscorer Michy Batshuayi came off the bench to make the difference in Amsterdam, it was Pulisic who looked the part right from the beginning at Turf Moor.

Many have wilted in the intensity of the Burnley cauldron and the way the hosts initially set about the visitors demonstrated that Chelsea simply would not get the time and space to construct chances that they would ideally have liked.

There wasn’t much to pick between the two teams initially. Burnley could and should have had a few goals of their own before the break. Ashley Barnes was guilty of misreading a Ben Mee header across goal and, had he been better positioned, he would have scored.

Erik Pieters hit a deflected ball on the bounce that Kepa Arrizabalaga did well to get behind. Dwight McNeil looked dangerous whenever he went at Cesar Azpilicueta and Jorginho.

But, while Burnley huffed and puffed, they lacked that clinical quality in front of goal required to get the ball over the line. Chelsea were finding it difficult themselves but some individual brilliance from Pulisic would carry the day.

Many Americans have been wondering what Pulisic had to do to get into Lampard’s team; he’d been having a hard time convincing anyone that he was football’s coming force since his £58 million ($73m) move from Borussia Dortmund.

Here, however, was the proof. Three assists in his previous four appearances paved the way for this display. First, he capitalised on a horrific Matthew Lowton error and meandered towards goal. His step-over bought some space for a left-footed strike across the goalkeeper Nick Pope.

His first Chelsea goal was the result and, indeed, the first goal scored for the club by an American.

His second owed plenty to the industriousness of the fourth goalscorer Willian, who blocked down a Burnley pass out of defence and paved the way for Pulisic to repeat his trick.

This time it was a right-footed finish and it was helped in via a Mee deflection. The timing for Chelsea was perfect; the second goal came right before the half-time whistle and it took the sting out of Burnley and their supporters.

He might have thought he was dreaming when the opportunity for the third came up.

Winning a header against Burnley is a tough ask for any player, particularly on set-pieces. Yet he was available inside the Burnley box to meet Mason Mount’s cross and write his name in the history books.

Left foot, right foot, header – not many people can say they’ve scored the perfect Premier League hat-trick.

Aside from the goals, there were clever dribbles, through balls to Willian and clever link-up play with both Tammy Abraham and Mount.

He finished his day with five shots, four of which were on target, and three chances created. By any metric, those are good numbers.

Indeed, it was he and Mount who provided Chelsea’s best threats on the break any time the Burnley attack broke down.

Willian, however, did not need any help when placing the ball out of the reach of Pope to put the game beyond Burnley.

Nonetheless, Lampard will not be happy that his side threw away a clean sheet.

It is inexcusable to ease up like they did, especially against a side as tenacious as Burnley. The result might well have been done and dusted after Willian's strike but the goals from Jay Rodriguez and McNeil made it a much nervier finish for the visitors than it should have been.

Still, this seventh victory in a row in all competitions means Chelsea will finish the weekend inside the Premier League's top four, no matter what Arsenal do on Sunday.

There has been plenty to admire about the beginning of the Lampard era at Stamford Bridge but the perplexing Pulisic situation was one stick to beat the new manager with.

It was difficult for Lampard, who might well have believed Pulisic was worthy of selection but who also could not really afford to drop any of his preferred wingers in Hudson-Odoi or Willian.

So, this will be a pleasant conundrum for him to solve. Pulisic worked his way into contention, came in and took his chance.

He finished the day with his first, second and third Premier League goals and as the name on everyone’s lips.