Timo Werner is falling sufferer to Frank Lampard’s tactical rigidity
There’s a bitter sense of déja vu at Stamford Bridge this Christmas, so palpable you possibly can nearly style it on the chilly west London air.
As soon as once more, Chelsea are within the midst of an premature festive droop in kind, and as soon as once more – maybe extra concerningly – a marquee signing to guide the assault is struggling to ship.
Three defeats in 4, and 11 video games with out making a mark on the scoresheet for Timo Werner. Time for togetherness and to rally across the £47.5m man, and never one for a bit of sunshine scapegoating, proper? Proper?!
“Timo wasn’t giving us sufficient with or with out the ball. A few of it we have now to provide him time. I maintain saying the identical factor as a result of it’s a distinct league, however we have now to get there rapidly.”
– Lampard on Werner put up Arsenal defeat
Such a scathing post-match evaluation of 1 participant following one other damaging defeat to Arsenal would lead any supporter to imagine that Chelsea’s poor kind and Werner’s struggles are mutually unique, which is solely not the case.
To be clear, Werner’s first-half efficiency towards Arsenal was, objectively, terrible. However a repellent first contact, no pictures on track and a 57% cross completion charge all converse to a pointy decline in confidence – not one thing Lampard’s phrases will treatment.
My esteemed colleague Robbie Copeland argued it might be reductive to put the blame fully with Lampard’s deployment of Werner when the 24-year-old obtained 90min’s dreaded ‘what is going on on buddy?‘ therapy final week.
However whereas we will not say with any certainty, it feels not possible that this narrative would have developed had the German performed constantly by the center this season, relatively than shoehorned onto the left wing. Adapting to the Premier League is difficult sufficient, not to mention doing it out of place.
It is one thing of a false impression that Werner is equally adept hugging the touchline as he’s centrally – the place he scored 30 targets and created 13 extra final season. RB Leipzig’s system meant he was in a position to function extra as a left ahead, drifting inside to play off Patrik Schick or Yussuf Poulsen and stepping into goalscoring positions, whereas Julian Nagelsmann’s wing-back system would usually negate the necessity for him to defend.
Anybody who has performed soccer at any degree will know that taking part in on the wing is vastly completely different to taking part in as a lone striker, with area restricted by the confines of the pitch and the requirement to trace again and assist your full-back.
It is an energy-sapping position, and though Werner had really performed extra minutes than he has up to now for the Blues by the identical level final season, that is in fact his first style of the chaotic festive fixture schedule in England. A yr in the past he would have been stuffing his face with stollen along with his toes up.
It is not like he is the one Chelsea participant struggling, both. Inevitably when the Blues’ new, shiny entrance man is having a tough time – identical to Mateja Kežman, Andriy Shevchenko, Fernando Torres, Álvaro Morata, Radamel Falcao AND Gonzalo Higuaín all have in years passed by – they take a whole lot of the warmth. With out getting too granular, there may be solely a handful of Chelsea gamers who will be glad with their season’s work up to now.
For those who’re successful, it’s miles simpler to swerve the highlight. Take Sadio Mané for instance; arguably the Premier League’s most harmful attacker, the undroppable Senegal worldwide had gone eight league video games with no purpose earlier than his strike within the 7-0 destruction of Crystal Palace earlier than Christmas.
It feels as if Werner is falling sufferer to his supervisor’s inflexible ways – a stark distinction to the fluid formations and attacking rotation he was accustomed to in japanese Germany. Whereas Werner thrives on the shoulder of the defender with the ball coming to him centrally (it’s no shock that his greatest efficiency up to now got here as a centre ahead towards Southampton), Chelsea have unequivocally change into a crossing facet, main the Premier League charts with 343 chucked in already this season.
With the midfield missing creativity, each assault presently appears geared in the direction of shifting the ball out extensive all sport lengthy within the hope that one high quality supply may present a purpose. It is fairly actually a hit-and-miss strategy, and one which solely actually advantages Olivier Giroud, with 6’2 Tammy Abraham inexplicably common within the air.
Whereas there is no such thing as a questioning that in-form Giroud deserves a beginning berth at current, his age dictates he can not begin each sport after they come so thick and quick, whereas his and Abraham’s staggered, irregular goalscoring is a supply of frustration in itself. Lampard should discover an efficient different to his 4-3-3-get-ball-wide-cross-hope-for-goal ways.
Timo Werner offers that different, along with his mere presence centrally more likely to encourage a extra direct type of play by the center, in flip nourishing the inventive abilities of Mason Mount and, notably, Kai Havertz who will change into extra than simply glorified vessels for shifting the ball extensive, realizing they’re servicing a striker who has the tempo to chase by balls and run in behind.
A 4-3-3 with Havertz because the attacking midfielder, Hakim Ziyech extensive on the correct (when match), Christian Pulisic on the left and Werner straight down the center would certainly present the products (proper?!!!).
Extra discerning followers will acknowledge that Lampard is proscribed as a coach, however with Chelsea struggling for concepts and outcomes, there is no such thing as a higher time to point out a willingness to attempt one thing completely different. It is a tweak that would remedy each Werner’s and Chelsea’s festive quandaries and will even drag some others into kind.
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