Thomas Tuchel has a tailor-made role for Timo Werner at Chelsea

Timo Werner has been blamed for Frank Lampard’s sacking and his goal drought now stands at 14 games, but he already looks happier in Thomas Tuchel’s special role… now he has to prove it by scoring at long last

  • Timo Werner’s Chelsea goal drought now stands at 14 Premier League matches
  • But the £53m striker has looked far happier since Thomas Tuchel took over
  • Tuchel is using Werner as a ‘left 10’ just behind his main centre forward
  • The stats show even in a handful of games Werner is more involved in the box
  • He has won penalties for Chelsea in their last two games and the goals will come
  • Sky pundit Graeme Souness blamed Werner’s drought for Frank Lampard’s exit 
  • Chelsea host Newcastle at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League tonight 

Graeme Souness may still need some convincing but there are certainly green shoots of recovery for Timo Werner at Chelsea.

The £53million striker may now be 14 Premier League matches without a goal but he is undoubtedly more involved and looking more dangerous.

Thomas Tuchel has been sensitive to Werner’s struggles in the final weeks of Frank Lampard’s time in charge as their league form collapsed and any title challenge faded.

Timo Werner (left) still hasn’t scored under new Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel (right) but his all-round attacking game is benefitting from a subtle shift in position

Werner (left) celebrates with Mason Mount, who scored Chelsea’s opening goal in their 2-1 win at Sheffield United on Sunday night

Werner was brought down by Blades goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale for a second-half penalty

Known far and wide as a first-rate tactical innovator, Tuchel has made Werner a ‘left 10’ in his 3-4-1-2 system, which seems to suit the striker far more than playing out wide.

Werner won penalties for his team in consecutive games against Tottenham and Sheffield United, hinting at a restored confidence when it comes to getting into the box.

Of course for some, none of this will count for anything until the goals that marked his first few months at Stamford Bridge after signing from RB Leipzig begin to flow again.

In the Sky Sports studio on Sunday night, Souness seemed to pin the blame for Lampard’s sacking last month on Werner’s inability to find the net for so long.

‘I’m yet to be convinced [by Werner]. Chelsea are a team that’s full of really good players with big technique,’ Souness said.

Werner is consoled by former Chelsea boss Frank Lampard after failing to score at Fulham

Lampard wanted Werner to play in a more wide attacking position but it didn’t suit the German

‘They get into the last third time and time again and they will wonder what he is doing. They need more from him.

‘Put it this way, if he had done the business, Frank would still be in a job.’

It is a valid point. If Werner had come anywhere near replicating the 34 goals in 45 matches for Leipzig last season, then chances are Lampard would still be in the dug-out, Chelsea would be pushing Manchester City hard and everything would be hunky dory.

But Werner was far from the only under-performing player in Lampard’s team and matters on the field were far from the only reason for his sacking.

It boils down to what you can reasonably expect from a striker with a big price tag weighing around their neck and no prior experience of English football and its unique challenges as well as a new city, country and culture, during a pandemic as well.

The Sofascore graphic shows how everything expect for his goal return has improved for Werner in his three appearances so far under Tuchel

Eric Dier brought down Werner to concede the decisive penalty as Chelsea won at Tottenham

Werner hasn’t been shy in admitting the relentless pace of the fixture calendar plus the more rough and tumble nature of Premier League games wore him down in the autumn.

And the longer a goal drought goes on – his only contribution since scoring in the 4-1 win over Sheffield United on November 4 was a goal against League Two Morecambe in the FA Cup third round – the more it becomes a psychological burden.

Nineteen games is an awful long time for a player of Werner’s class but Tuchel has at least moved him into a position on the pitch that suits his game and from where he is far more likely to score.

‘We are proud of this win to continue our last wins and, for myself, no goal, but it’s good to see I can help the team with other moments,’ Werner said at Bramall Lane.

‘I’m happy when we win, when I can make two assists, it’s good. When I don’t score, it’s a long period for me, you can’t do anything, you have to keep going and the goals will come.

Werner’s last goal in the Premier League came against Sheffield United in November

Werner did find the net against League Two Morecambe in the FA Cup third round last month

‘Every manager is different, he gives us a lot of ideas. I play as a left 10, not a winger, so I have more space in the middle. I play behind a striker or with a 10 behind me, it’s very good for me.’

Those penalty awards count as assists for Werner and scoring isn’t everything for strikers in the modern game.

Just look at how Harry Kane, three years his senior at 27, has matured into the ultimate all-round forward in recent months with incredible returns of 20 goals plus 14 assists for Tottenham this season.

He’s done it through a difficult-to-accomplish combination of being ruthless in front of goal when chances present themselves but also selfless enough to tee up others instead of shooting from a worse position when necessary.

If Werner is going to play this hybrid No 10 role instead of an out-and-out centre forward, then Tuchel is a good coach to add strings to his bow.

Tottenham’s Harry Kane is no longer judged purely on goal tallies but all-round contribution

The German sees qualities in players that other managers don’t spot. He wanted to convert the teenage Christian Pulisic into a right wing-back, for example, before he settled as a wide forward.

Until Werner finds his own seam of scoring form again, confidence will be restored by good deeds for others.

It remains a small sample size of just three games under Tuchel, but Werner is already averaging more assists, chances created, touches in the opponent’s box, shots on target and passes into the box than in his games under Lampard.

His average number of touches in the penalty box in Premier League games has risen from 5.99 per game under Lampard to 8.47 under Tuchel, suggesting the positional switch is getting him more of the ball in dangerous areas.

It’s little surprise, therefore, his shots on target per game is up from 1.03 to 1.41.

Opta stats showing where Werner has improved and where he hasn’t under Tuchel so far

Of course, many of those games under Lampard are the dismal team performances that got him the boot, so we needed more time to properly assess whether the improvement is genuine.

Tuchel seemed pleased enough, describing his 75 minutes against the Blades before he went off with a dead leg as a ‘big step forward’.

‘If he continues like this, the goals will come.’

But if they do not come when he returns to the team from injury against lowly Newcastle tonight, or against a woefully out-of-form Southampton on Saturday, then expect a whole round of fresh awkward questions for both him and Tuchel.

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