Christian Pulisic has just earned the prestigious number ten at Chelsea, the number previously worn by the beloved Chelsea legend, Eden Hazard. Naturally, playing the same position and wearing the same number as a Chelsea icon is going to bring comparisons between the two. However, Pulisic playing left wing and wearing the number ten is where the similarities between the two stop.
It is a prevalent misconception that Pulisic is a “Hazard Type Player.” That is the furthest thing from the truth. Pulisic’s playing style is the polar opposite of Hazard’s, and because of that, he has the potential to become a more prolific goal scorer than Hazard.
The most common comparison people make between Pulisic and Hazard is their dribbling styles. While both are light on their feet, have great ball control, and are excellent in 1 v 1 scenarios, their dribbling styles are in fact opposites.
Starting with Hazard, he can be described as a magician, his dribbling revolves around putting on an extravagant show.
Hazard dribbles North, South, East, West, and every direction in between. He wants to run circles around defenders and prove just how much better he is than them. He wants to show the world how helpless he leaves defenders. Every matchday is a new stage on which to put on a new magical performance.
Hazard also relies on his extreme high balance combined with his low center of gravity and stockier body frame to keep possession. He is a master of getting the most out of his body frame and balance to hold off bigger, faster, and stronger defenders. This makes taking the ball away from him extremely difficult.
Pulisic, on the other hand, is an assassin. He isn’t interested in getting from Point A to Point B in the prettiest way. He is only interested in the fastest way from Point A to B. For him, it is a matter of what is the fastest and most effective way of murdering a defender.
Pulisic brings a very American philosophy to the way he plays football. In general, in American sports, the athletes are taught to be direct and explosive. This is especially prevalent in basketball, a sport that Pulisic loves and grew up watching and playing.
You are taught in basketball to dribble right off the shoulder of a defender. Your goal should be to graze the defender’s shoulder when you go past him to give him no ability to be able to turn around and recover. You can clearly see this influence in Pulisic’s dribbling style.
For Pulisic, there is no East or West it is only North and South. His whole dribbling philosophy is based on this concept.
He attacks defenders head-on attacking their shoulder and using his blistering pace with his close control to fly right past them.
Hazard dances around defenders while Pulisic attacks them directly.
The other reason why Pulisic’s game is nothing like Hazard’s is his selfishness. In their debut seasons, Hazard averaged 2.07 shots per match, while Pulisic averaged 3.12. As well as averaging 0.42 goals per 90 compared to Hazard’s 0.26. Pulisic is just a more selfish player.
Keep in mind, Hazard played in 28 more matches than Pulisic did in his debut season, also that he averaged 0.40 assists per 90 compared to Puli’s 0.27. Almost a complete flip of their goal and assist averages. Again, just further proving more how polar opposite their playing styles are.
Hazard’s biggest criticism has always been that he isn’t selfish enough. That is what held him back from being a consistent, prolific goal scorer. Hazard wants to set his team up for goals, Pulisic wants to score the goals himself.
This is why Pulisic will be a more prolific goalscorer than Hazard.
Pulisic at Dortmund wasn’t selfish. It wasn’t until he arrived at Chelsea where he embraced being selfish and has been greatly rewarded by having the best season of his life regardless of playing in a new, tough league like the Prem.
This rise in Pulisic’s selfishness from when he was at Dortmund to Chelsea has been greatly encouraged by his manager at Chelsea, Frank Lampard. This is one of the main reasons Pulisic has thrived at Chelsea under Lampard.
As Pulisic develops and further improves his decision making and finishing he will only score more and more goals.
Apart from being more direct and selfish than Hazard, their differences don’t stop there. Pulsic plays with a chip on his shoulder. Being an American soccer player automatically comes with a stigma of doubt towards you.
Americans have to do more to prove themselves.
Every time Pulisic steps on the pitch he carries this stigma in mind and because of that, he has developed a mentality of “I’ll prove everyone wrong.”
He was doubted at Dortmund and especially doubted in his capability to thrive in the Premier League. Even USMNT fans thought that going to Chelsea was the wrong move for Pulisic.
Pulisic did what Pulisic does when he is doubted. Prove everyone wrong.
The added pressure of being a US soccer player and having to prove himself over and over again has created an unbreakable mental fortitude in Pulisic.
Something he proved once again in the Premier League.
Despite dealing with doubt from the world in his ability to succeed at Chelsea, having a slow start at Chelsea, and on top of everything dealing with a long term injury he managed to have a brilliant debut season for The Blues.
His mental fortitude and maturity are exceptional, especially considering his ripe, young age of 21.
Pulisic and Hazard Comparison Conclusion
Pulisic and Hazard may play the same position and use the same number but have unique, differing styles to each other. The comparisons between them need to stop. Fans shouldn’t expect the new Hazard but rather the first Pulisic. As both are extraordinarily special in their own ways.
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