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Timo Werner falls victim to Frank Lampard’s tactical rigidity


There is a bitter sense of déjà vu at Stamford Bridge this Christmas, so palpable you can almost taste it in the chilly West London air.

Once again, Chelsea are in the midst of an untimely festive drop in form, and once again – perhaps more worryingly – a marquee signing to lead the attack struggles to hold up.

Three losses in four, and 11 games without making a mark on the scoresheet for Timo Werner. Time to come together and rally around the £ 47.5million man, and not one for a light scapegoat, right? Right?!

“Timo didn’t give us enough with or without the ball. In part, we have to give it time. I keep saying the same thing because it’s a different league, but we have to get there quickly. ”

Lampard on Werner after Arsenal defeat

Such a scathing post-match assessment of a player after yet another damaging loss to Arsenal would lead any fan to believe that Chelsea’s poor form and Werner’s struggles are mutually exclusive, which is simply not the case.

To be clear, Werner’s first half performance against Arsenal was, objectively, horrible. But a repulsive first touch, no shot on target, and a 57% success rate all testify to a sharp drop in confidence – something Lampard’s words won’t cure.

Timo Werner, Kieran Tierney
Werner struggled in the Emirates | Chloe Knott – Danehouse / Getty Images

My esteemed colleague Robbie Copeland has argued that it would be reductive to fully dismiss responsibility for Werner’s Lampard deployment when the 24-year-old received 90min ‘is dreaded ‘what’s going on buddy? treatment last week.

But while we can’t say for sure, it seems impossible that this narrative would have developed if the German had played consistently through the middle of the season, rather than on the left wing. Adjusting to the Premier League is hard enough, let alone getting it out of position.

It’s a misconception that Werner is just as adept at squeezing the sideline as he is at the center – where he scored 30 goals and created 13 more last season. RB Leipzig’s system meant he was able to function more as a left-wing striker, drifting inside to face Patrik Schick or Yussuf Poulsen and move into scoring positions, while the winger system Julian Nagelsmann’s back often canceled out the need to defend.

Anyone who has played football at any level knows that playing on the wing is very different from playing as a lone striker, with space limited by the boundaries of the pitch and the need to follow and help your back. lateral.

It’s an energy-draining role, and while Werner has actually played more minutes than he has so far for the Blues at the same time last season, this is of course his first. overview of the chaotic schedule of festive matches in England. A year ago he would have filled his face with stollen with his feet in the air.

It’s not like he’s the only Chelsea player struggling either. Inevitably, when the Blues’ shiny new front goes through a rough patch – just like Mateja Kežman, Andriy Shevchenko, Fernando Torres, Álvaro Morata, Radamel Falcao AND Gonzalo Higuaín have all done in years past – they take a lot of heat. Without getting too granular, there are only a handful of Chelsea players who can be happy with their season’s work so far.

If you win, it’s much easier to push the spotlight out. Take the example of Sadio Mané; arguably the most dangerous striker in the Premier League, the unstoppable Senegalese international was gone eight Goalless league games before his strike in Crystal Palace’s 7-0 destruction before Christmas.

Frank Lampard, Andreas Christensen
Frank Lampard talks tactics with Andreas Christensen | Richard Heathcote / Getty Images

It feels like Werner is a victim of his manager’s rigid tactics – a stark contrast to the fluid lineups and attacking rotation he was used to in East Germany. As Werner thrives on the defender’s shoulder with the ball reaching him in the middle (it’s no surprise that his best performance to date has come as a center-forward against Southampton), Chelsea have become unequivocal. a crossover team, leading the Premier League standings with 343 thrown already this season.

With the midfielder lacking in creativity, every attack currently seems geared toward moving the ball throughout the game in the hope that quality delivery could provide a goal. It’s literally a random approach, and one that only really benefits Olivier Giroud, with 6’2 Tammy Abraham inexplicably average in the air.

While there is no doubt that the fit Giroud deserves a starting spot right now, his age dictates that he cannot start every game when they come so fast and so fast, when the goals Abraham’s irregularities and irregularities are a source of frustration in itself. Lampard must find an effective alternative to his 4-3-3-get-ball-wide-cross-hope-goal-goal tactic.

Olivier Giroud, Ben Chilwell
Olivier Giroud celebrates a new head against Aston Villa | Richard Heathcote / Getty Images

Timo Werner offers this alternative, with his simple presence in the center likely to encourage a more direct style of play through the middle, in turn nurturing the creative talents of Mason Mount and, in particular, of Kai Havertz who will become more than just ships. glorified to change the ball wide, knowing that they are serving an attacker who has the pace to chase balls and run behind.

A 4-3-3 with Havertz as an attacking midfielder, Hakim Ziyech wide on the right (when he’s in shape), Christian Pulisic on the left and Werner directly in the middle would do it surely provide the goods (no? !!!).

Discerning fans will recognize Lampard is limited as a manager, but with Chelsea struggling for ideas and results, there’s no better time to show a willingness to try something different. It’s a fit that could resolve both Werner’s and Chelsea’s festive dilemmas and could even lead to more.

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