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In Focus: Werner can still Bridge gap at Chelsea after Saints double
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Cian Cheesbrough
Timo Werner was impressive during Chelsea's 6-0 win at Southampton
Timo Werner was impressive during Chelsea's 6-0 win at Southampton

Timo Werner has been branded a flop for much of his time at Chelsea — but the German was at his devastating best during a 6-0 victory at Southampton on Saturday.

The £47.5million forward, 26, was on target for just his second and third Premier League goals of the season during a fine attacking display alongside fellow German Kai Havertz at St Mary’s.

The Blues will be without first-choice striker Romelu Lukaku as they bid to overturn a two-goal deficit in their Champions League quarter-final with Real Madrid tomorrow, meaning Werner could play a key role again.

Ahead of that clash at the Bernabeu, we ponder whether Werner can use that display on the South Coast to revive his career at Stamford Bridge.

Figure of fun

Werner arrived at Chelsea in the summer of 2020 with a burgeoning reputation following four prolific seasons with RB Leipzig in the Bundesliga.

It is those lofty expectations that have made his underwhelming performances during nearly two years in West London all the more entertaining for fans of rival clubs.

The German international scored just 12 times in 52 appearances last season — a campaign which would be remembered more for a number of high-profile misses rather than goals.

Since arriving in England, Werner has astonishingly missed 23 big chances in the Premier League and scored just 10.

A further nine goals this season takes his tally to 21 in 82 appearances and even Chelsea fans have become frustrated with him of late after previously rallying behind their No11.

Handed just 16 starts out of 54 games under compatriot Thomas Tuchel so far this campaign, it appeared his future lay elsewhere.

Timo Werner has struggled to consistently find the net since joining Chelsea in the summer of 2020
Timo Werner has struggled to consistently find the net since joining Chelsea in the summer of 2020

Starring on the South Coast

Saturday’s performance during the dismantling of the Saints was one of his most encouraging in a Chelsea shirt to date.

Selected to start alongside Havertz up front, Werner netted two goals and could conceivably have had two or three more on just the fifth occasion he has played the full 90 minutes in the Premier League this term.

After striking the woodwork twice early on, he put Chelsea 3-0 up after just 21 minutes at St Mary’s, using his pace to latch on to a loose ball before rounding Fraser Forster for the type of goal he had become known for in Germany.

He was unfortunate not to add a second moments later, manoeuvring past a clutch of defenders before his effort bounced off the upright and into the path of Havertz, who tapped home.

An easy finish of his own came later on, though, stroking into an empty net after N’Golo Kante’s strike was saved.

But rather than lavish him with praise after that display, Tuchel challenged Werner to build on it and show he is up to the demands of the Premier League.

The German boss said: "At some point there are no words, you must help yourself. 

"You sign for Chelsea, you sign for a top club, you have to live up to it and accept the pressure that comes with it. And you also have to help yourself.

"It means when you come on the pitch, you have to be ready when the chance comes, and this is what he did.

"His attitude has always been good. But he still needs to adapt, because he used to play regularly and used to play for teams that were built for him.

"Werner needs to adapt to the physicality of the league. It’s still a process but it was a step in the right direction."

A suiting of style

Timo Werner featured as a left striker alongside Kai Havertz against Southampton
Timo Werner featured as a left striker alongside Kai Havertz against Southampton

By altering the system against Southampton, Tuchel may have stumbled on a set-up which perfectly suits Werner’s skill set. 

Paired alongside Havertz and just in front of attacking midfielder Mason Mount, he was given the freedom to make runs in behind the defence without the burden of having to drop short and link play.

Often featuring out wide or through the middle previously, it is a formation more akin to what he played in at Leipzig, where he partnered the more physical Yussuf Poulsen in attack.

On how that system suited the German forward, Tuchel said: "It was his position, the players around him, connection with Mason, Kai and [Mateo] Kovacic. 

"It was the half-left position as the double striker and it was an opponent that we could find spaces. 

"It was set out for him to deliver and not give up. He is still an important player of this club and this group, and he did deliver."

Playing for his future

But while undoubtedly a positive step, the jury remains out on Werner’s time at the club and a summer departure still looks a real possibility.

Lukaku’s absence through injury tomorrow night could see Werner handed a start in what is sure to be a more testing environment at the Bernabeu, with the Blues still reeling from a 3-1 first-leg defeat last week.

The big occasions keep coming after that, with an FA Cup semi-final against Crystal Palace on Sunday making this week a pivotal one for Chelsea's hopes of ending a testing season on a high.

And with only eight more Premier League games left this term, it appears to be now or never for Werner to prove he can still be a success at Stamford Bridge.



ChelseaPremier LeagueFA CupChampions LeagueTimo Werner
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