Analysing Timo Werner's Statement Showing Against Southampton

19 October 2020 12:05

Chelsea's 3-3 draw with Southampton on Saturday brought us a lot of negatives. The goalkeeping was bad, the defending was bad and the midfield wasn't particularly impressive either.

The Blues' sloppy defending has stolen the headlines in the aftermath of the game, and it has also drowned out the outstanding showing from striker Timo Werner, who opened his Premier League account with two excellent goals.

The German has attracted plenty of taunts from rival fans over his slow start to life in England (he'd played four league games! He'd been good in two of them!) but Frank Lampard opted to bring Werner back in from the left wing and played him in a central striker role, allowing him to do what he does best.

Werner was returned to a central role | BEN STANSALL/Getty Images

The opening 30 minutes were everything Lampard has promised us Chelsea can be. The Blues were a devastatingly fluid machine, pulling Southampton's defence around with terrifying ease as every member of the attacking four drifted around the pitch.

Werner isn't a striker who stays particularly central, and he was given the freedom to drift because Kai Havertz, Christian Pulisic and Mason Mount were all prepared to fill in for him.

For Werner's first goal, he had drifted towards the left side of the pitch - a staple of his game - to receive a pass from Ben Chilwell. Subconsciously, he knew he had space behind him and dummied the ball, leaving Jan Bednarek in the mud as he accelerated towards goal.

It's a move we saw repeated plenty of times during the game. Werner would come out wide and his place in the box would be taken by Havertz, ensuring Chelsea always had a focal point to their attack. We saw it in the seventh minute as his torture of Bednarek began by drifting out wide to offer up a dangerous cross towards his team-mate.

However, Werner's no one-trick pony. The second goal came from his decision to stay deep and central, encouraging the defenders to leave acres of space behind them. Jorginho found that space with a sweeping through ball not dissimilar to the one we saw in late 2019 against Watford, and Werner showcased his composure to steer the ball away from Alex McCarthy and into the back of the net.

It's a move which worked to both players' strengths. Jorginho loves this first-time ball, and Werner loves the chase. He's at his best when he's running into space, and if he keeps up that level, there won't be many defenders capable of stopping him.

It shows that Werner is capable of scoring goals from a number of different positions, which makes him a nightmare to mark. Do you drop back and gift him space to start running at you, or do you press up high and allow him to beat you over the top?

Even when he's not scoring goals, his movement is creating them. He provided the assist for Havertz by moving out to the right to provide the cross, allowing his team-mate to drift central and score the easiest goal he will ever manage.

This level of movement is why Werner is primarily a central striker. As a left winger, he has to stay on the left wing as Abraham dominates the central areas and Olivier Giroud isn't darting out wide any time soon. Werner's movement is limited. He's asked to play as a winger when he's not a winger.

Now back at the top of the team, Werner looks ready to explode. His understanding with Havertz is already there, Mount and Pulisic look to be learning and Hakim Ziyech got another taste of life alongside the German after making his long-awaited return from injury.

Havertz & Werner are key to each other's game | RICHARD HEATHCOTE/Getty Images

Nobody is questioning Chelsea's attack anymore. The Blues have already scored 13 goals in their five league games (and they've added another seven in two cup games too), and Werner has been a core part of that success. His future is in this central role.

Now, if only Lampard could sort out that pesky defence.

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Source: 90min