Chelsea FC

Proactive Timo Werner doing everything right in bid to regain form

Krishan Davis
Feb 8, 2021, 11:38 AM GMT
Timo Werner was man of the match at Bramall Lane
Timo Werner was man of the match at Bramall Lane | Clive Mason/Getty Images
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It felt inevitable that Thomas Tuchel's arrival at Stamford Bridge would signal a change of fortunes for Timo Werner.

A compatriot installed in the managerial hot seat, and - if swirling reports are to be believed - one charged with specifically restoring both his and Kai Havertz's form and confidence.

Of course, a centre forward (even if he has rarely been deployed in his preferred position) will always be judged on their goalscoring output, and with Werner still stalling on that front, there is reason for reticence when discussing the 24-year-old's progress at Chelsea.

However, the German's display against Sheffield United on Sunday night suggests a corner has been turned on what is proving a long and arduous road to personal recovery.

Having been the target of Frank Lampard's ire and often benched towards the end of his tenure, Tuchel has eased Werner into his system, adhering to that supposed prerequisite for the job and playing his countryman in his favourite spot - in a sort of free role just to the left of a central striker - and allowing his form to improve organically.

Werner gets away from Chris Basham
Werner gets away from Chris Basham | Clive Mason/Getty Images

In playing him there and reaping the rewards, Tuchel had enacted exactly the plan he had outlined in an interview with Sky Germany after the win over Burnley last weekend.

"We need a good position for him so that he can play a bit between the left wing and the centre-forward and we can get him behind the last line there at speed."

Tuchel on getting best from Werner

Having been left on the bench for the head coach's bow against Wolves, there were signs of progress against the Clarets, and again vs Tottenham as Werner won the match-winning penalty.

But it was on Sunday night against the Blades that Tuchel's patience truly paid dividends.

From minute one Werner was producing the kinds of runs in the left channel that made him such a threat in his homeland, getting in between and in behind Chris Basham and John Egan twice early on, coming a goal line clearance away from opening the scoring.

Two minutes before half-time he was at it again, this time collecting the ball at the byline in that left channel and cutting back an inch-perfect low pass for Mason Mount to sweep home on the run. A very aesthetically pleasing goal, and an assist as reward for an industrious first half for Werner.

With his manager's words of encouragement surely ringing in his ear, the £47.5m man seemed determined not to take his foot off the gas in the early stages of the second period, demonstrating the freedom of his 'left ten' role and popping up across the front line.

Mount celebrates his goal with its provider Werner
Mount celebrates his goal with its provider Werner | CLIVE MASON/Getty Images

After conceding a, frankly, hilarious equaliser from a Toni Rüdiger own goal, it was from the right that Werner pounced to provide the match-winning opportunity for Chelsea for the second time in as many games.

Seizing upon a loose pass, the German bore down on goal and cutely attempted to round Aaron Ramsdale, only to be crudely felled by the keeper. Penalty, Jorginho, goal, and three points heading back to Stamford Bridge.

Werner is caught for the penalty
Werner is caught for the penalty | Pool/Getty Images

While a 14th Premier League game without a goal is undoubtedly a concern, this kind of selfless, all-action, man of the match display will endear him to manager and supporters alike (just ask Roberto Firmino) and is a huge stride in the direction of a full recovery of form.

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