Introduction: Timo Werner – SOTS
Timo Werner has hit the ground running at Chelsea Football Club after arriving for £47 million. Expectations were high when he made his arrival after leaving RB Leipzig and he has delivered. At Leipzig, Werner has known for his speed, acceleration, the timing of his runs, lethal finishing, and goal scoring record. Werner was a goal machine at Leipzig, and he is now continuing that at Chelsea. He is preferred centrally as a striker, but can also play on the wing, and this tactical flexibility has been paramount to the squad’s success so far. Not just the tactical flexibility and goals, but his pace and ability to run into spaces and stretch the opponent’s backline, combined with the lethal finishing, is making him the most important signing so far. Consistency and dependability have also been key for Werner to be the signing of the season so far.
Squad Advantages Offered by Werner
More importantly than just goals are the diversity of tactics and profile that Timo Werner can execute. Werner clearly offers a different tactical profile than Tammy Abraham. First, Werner seems to be a more lethal finisher. This is a quality that the squad has desperately missed since the Diego Costa era. Chelsea has suffered without a clear, lethal finisher at striker for years.
Alvaro Morata became most infamous for being offsides and missing one-on-ones, Giroud has always been more of a target man with good link-up play, and Tammy Abraham is showing much promise but still has some inconsistencies to his game. Werner is clear of the pack in finishing, and that profile is making a massive difference. This forces the opposition to always be aware of where the lethal German is on the pitch, and his sheer pace forces the opposition to play deeper and leave less space between the lines while transitioning and defending. With the opposition playing deeper, it aids in neutralizing any high press the opponent may have planned, as it simply leaves too much space between the lines or too much space between the last defender and GK for Werner to run into and convert simple 1v1s into goals.
The opponent sitting deeper also allows the Chelsea squad to better execute their off-the-ball pressing, especially if losing possession in the attacking third, as space is already highly reduced based on the opponent forcing themselves to reduce space between the lines. This also opens more space for the wingers and No.8 midfielders to operate. Additionally, with the opposition pinning back and leaving less space, it usually creates less defensive work and ground to cover for N’golo Kante. This is a massive tactical advantage, as Kante has become injury prone more recently due to being overworked and run into the ground from all the ground he had to previously cover and close down before the arrival of Werner.
Werner’s Positional Diversity
The importance that Werner can equally play striker or left-winger cannot be understated thus far. First, Pulisic has been injured for the majority of the new season, and history suggests this may be a sign of a larger pattern: Pulisic is injury prone. Simple as that. For such a young player, he has sustained several soft tissue injuries, and as those soft tissue injuries accumulate, the player’s explosiveness and athleticism might decline. To combat this (possibly chronic) issue, in steps Timo Werner. Werner’s ability to occupy the attacking left flank fills the gap left by Pulisic’s injuries. It also allows Lampard to not start Callum Hudson-Odoi, who although talented, seems to be out of the starting plans for Lampard. Therefore, Timo Werner allows for tactical flexibility.
Without his ability to occupy the LW, Lampard would need to play Mount and CHO together on the wings. This clearly does not seem preferred, as Werner offers more on the LW than either Mount or CHO do. This would have also left the squad without any wingers to use as substitutes, so Werner’s ability to execute at LW has been a massive quality that is greatly overlooked by many. The impact of this flexibility alone is a big reason for the squad’s success and why the young German is the signing of the season so far for Chelsea.
2 Strikers Can Play Together
Werner allows Lampard to play 2 strikers on the pitch at the same time. Even though Werner is at LW, it allows for Tammy Abraham to move into a central striker position and thus offering greater attacking threat and lethality in front of goal. This dynamic is similar to the way Anelka and Drogba played together, with Anelka on the wing acting as almost a hybrid of a ST and LW, and allowed Drogba to feed off the service he would receive from a central striking position. This simply offers a greater attacking output, advances Tammy’s development, and allows Werner to still use his great pace to run at defenses from the wing.
Werner can also drift into slightly more central positions, allowing Tammy and Werner to work together. This early development and chemistry between the 2 players may show its worth later in the season when the squad is chasing matches and need 2 strikers to be on the pitch to score goals. The impact Timo Werner is having to be the signing of the season is more implicit than one would initially think, but it is also clear where he is having an explicit impact on the squad.
Impressive Statistics for Werner
Timo Werner has made life easier for everyone else in the squad, but he has also been incredibly impactful taking his chances and showing up on the stat sheet. So far this season, he has featured in 8 Premier League matches, 3 Champions League matches, and 1 Carabao Cup match. In these 12 appearances, he has logged a total of 1054 minutes, with 695 minutes coming in the league. Werner has scored 4 goals in the league, 3 goals in the Champions League, and 1 goal in the Carabao Cup, for a total of 8 goals in 1054 minutes. That is 131.75 minutes/goal scored. He has also registered one assist in both the EPL and the UCL. With the 2 assists, he is creating a goal every 105.4 minutes.
What may be lost upon some by just looking at the stats is factoring in that Werner has played on the LW for most of the season thus far. Would the stats be better if Werner was playing upfront? Some other shockingly good stats are that Werner is averaging 2.38 shots per match in the league, and with 4 league goals, that converts to an average of 3.08 shots per goal to match ratio. Coming mostly from the LW, that is simply incredible. The lethal finishing of Werner was previously alluded to, but the above statistic really hammers home just how deadly he is in front of goal.
Additionally, Werner is exceeding his expected goals (xG) in all competitions. He was expected to score 2.8 goals and register 0.2 assists in the Champions League so far, and he has scored 3 goals and assisted 1 goal. In the league, Werner was expected to score 2.7 goals and assist 0.9 goals in the league and has exceeded that with 4 goals and 1 assist. In the Champions League, Werner is averaging 50% of his shots on target, and in the league is averaging 42.1% of shots on target. With his clinical ability in front of goal, it only makes his shot on target percentages even more eye-opening.
Werner has carried his blistering goal record from Leipzig to Chelsea, but more importantly, offers many implicit upgrades to the squad that has likely gone unnoticed. His statistics are a basis for him being the signing of the season, but the real reasons lie in what he does from a positional and tactical standpoint. His ability excels at the LW has allowed the squad to cope in the face of injuries to Pulisic and Ziyech. Werner’s pace has forced the opposition to take notice and reduce space for the German to run into, which in turn mitigated the opposition press and maximized Chelsea’s defensive pressures.
Werner has also allowed 2 strikers to play together, which is a profile the squad has missed for many years. Overall, he has made a massive impact and has played more minutes than any of the new signings. As of November 10, 2020, Werner is Chelsea’s signing of the season.
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Written by Travis Flock @Crossroads_CFC
Edited by Jai Mcintosh @jjmcintosh5