For the first time in 100 days and 1,000 minutes of football, Timo Werner has scored a Premier League goal. Much has been made of the Germany international’s drought in front of goal over the winter months, and there is no doubt his struggles played a part in the Blues’ slide down the table.
But after his goal against Newcastle capped another encouraging display, Werner and Chelsea now find themselves back in the top four and with Champions League qualification very much in their own hands.
Werner’s last league goal before tonight came back on November 7 against Sheffield United, and he had taken a further 31 shots before he bundled the ball in at the back post from a corner six minutes before half-time.
Though it was not the prettiest goal of his career, getting the 24-year-old back firing was part of Thomas Tuchel’s mandate when he replaced Frank Lampard, and the early signs suggest Werner is getting back to his best.
He played a major role in both goals in the recent 2-1 win over Sheffield United, and even before finding the net against the Magpies he had proven a menace that the visitors struggled to deal with. Perhaps his most eye-catching moment of the night came in setting up Olivier Giroud’s opener, with Werner’s direct run down the left leaving Emil Krafth for dead before his driven cross was turned into Giroud’s path by Karl Darlow.
Though it will not go down as a direct assist, it was yet again proof of the all-round abilities he possesses having already set up nine goals this term when the seven penalties he has won are taken into account. Chelsea did not pay £47.5 million for Werner to be their prime assist-maker, though. He is there to score goals, and he now has 10 in all competitions this season as the Blues continue to compete in three competitions.
It was perhaps fitting that it was his goal that ensured Chelsea moved above Liverpool in the table given the way in which the west London outfit jumped ahead of Jurgen Klopp’s side in the queue to sign Werner from RB Leipzig, and the Premier League’s two former Borussia Dortmund managers certainly have their teams moving in opposite directions right now.
That is five wins and a draw now for Tuchel, with Antonio Rudiger’s own goal at Bramall Lane still the only time they have conceded under the German coach. And while the ex-Paris Saint-Germain boss has certainly tightened things up defensively, his 3-4-3 formation is also bringing the best out of a number of his forward-thinking players, particularly Werner.
Unlike under Lampard, who this season had stuck firmly with a back four, Werner can now still play from his favoured role off the left without finding things too crowded when he gets into the box.
Tuchel describes Werner’s position as a “left 10”, and with Marcos Alonso back in the picture and playing as an aggressive wing-back, there is not the onus on the former Stuttgart man to constantly stay wide and provide width.
Tuchel will likely face a similar conundrum once Kai Havertz returns to full fitness, but for now Chelsea and their fans can be content with the fact that 50 per cent of their ‘German problem’ seems to be fixed. In doing so Tuchel has also lifted them six places in the table. Things could barely be going better for the Blues right now.