Christian Pulisic has urged Chelsea to prove they have the “character” to end the dismal run that has plunged their season into turmoil.
Frank Lampard’s side suffered a fourth defeat in their last six Premier League games on Sunday as Manchester City eased to a 3-1 win.
Chelsea were rocked by City’s three-goal blitz in the first half at Stamford Bridge and looked bereft of confidence as they slipped to eighth place.
Lampard accepted there will be questions about his ability to turn Chelsea into title contenders, with the City defeat coming hot on the heels of dispiriting losses against Everton, Wolves and Arsenal.
After their £200 million ($273.5 million) spending spree in the close-season and a strong start to the new campaign, Chelsea were expected to push champions Liverpool, but now they face a battle just to finish in the top four.
United States winger Pulisic admitted Chelsea’s players must dig deep to resolve their issues before the season implodes completely.
“We’re in a tough period, it’s going to happen to everyone at times and we’ve been in these situations ourselves before,” Pulisic said.
“We have a game next week where we need to start turning it around because we do need to start getting results quickly.
“We’ll watch this game back, look at it as a team and see what we can improve on.
“It’s not going to be easy but we need to show character now.
“We have some games coming up where we need to turn it around quickly and start putting together a run of results.”
Ilkay Gundogan, Phil Foden and Kevin De Bruyne scored for City in a one-sided first half.
It was a worrying sign for Lampard that Timo Werner was easily shut out by the City defence, leaving the German striker without a goal in 12 matches.
But Werner, a close-season signing from Leipzig, wasn’t the only one to blame.
Chelsea were way off the pace, with the defence in disarray and little resistence offered in midfield.
“We conceded goals with a lot of counter situations and we weren’t prepared to stop that so the first half really let us down,” Pulisic told Chelsea’s website.
“They were able to beat us on some transitions where we needed to defend better and be a little smarter and then we allowed them to dictate the tempo of the game.”