The 2019/20 season was Timo Werner’s best season to date with 34 goals and 10 assists, which subsequently earned him a move to Chelsea this year. However, the question is what position would enable Werner to replicate the same form and numbers for Chelsea football club.
At RB Leipzig Werner often played behind Schick as a number 10 or out on the left. Whereas, the season before Werner had played alongside Schick in a front two. This tactical switch by Nagelsmann had allowed Werner to start on the left with the license to roam as he pleases. This change at the beginning of the season had led to Werner’s impressive form to which Nagelsmann stated that as a result “He’s finding space in between lines and is harder to predict”.
As Werner became harder to predict and found space frequently, he was able to play off Schick, often playing one-twos with and taking up the spaces Schick vacates. Schick’s ability to be the focal point of Leipzig attacking play and being the centre attention for opposing defenders had benefited Werner. As a result, Werner was able to concentrate on his own game without much responsibility. When asked about his recent form and change of position, Timo Werner stated that “I’m playing in a slightly different position as a kind of No.10. That helps me a lot. I’ve got a lot of freedom. You often have to wait a long time for your chance and stay patient”.
In consideration of the analysis of Werner’s time at RB Leipzig, Lampard must wonder where and how exactly would Timo Werner fits into his system and how suited is Werner to playing against low blocks.
On paper, it seems like Timo Werner would play as a striker and with this, Lampard can accommodate and include three of his attacking players behind him, with his options being Ziyech, Pulisic, Mount, Loftus-Cheek, Hudson-odoi, and potentially Havertz.
However, the last time Werner played as a striker was the 2018/19 season where he registered 20 goals and 7 assists, but his form was not the same as last season. Werner often struggled to play with his back to goal and to find space whilst up against two centre backs. Werner is comfortable when he receives the ball into space and often when the opposing team loses the ball in transition to which Werner can capitalise on the space in behind.
Nagelsmann had hinted at this post-match Atletico Madrid as he told BT Sport: “The opponents are not perhaps the best for Timo Werner because there’s not a lot of space behind the defensive line.
“Today we decided to play with three offensive midfielders to create the spaces between the lines, and all the three midfielders did very well.“
Absence of space in behind would be something that Werner will have to regularly deal with next season, especially as Chelsea dominated the ball in the majority of their games. Therefore, whilst starting as a striker, Werner may often drift out wide to find space and become more involved in the game. As a result, Chelsea may miss that focal point of reference in their attack if this occurs, something that Oliver Giroud offers well.
This raises the question and possibility of whether Werner should start wide or as a no.10, as he did so well for RB Leipzig last season. However, how would that affect the selection and tactics of the team? For example, Chelsea struggled against deep defence last season, nevertheless with the addition of Havertz and Ziyech, Lampard would hope he has solved their creativity in the final third. Both players can execute that final pass and circulate the ball with fewer passes and touches. Likewise, with Pulisic best position being on the left it is hard to see him not starting there with his current form and why he is progressing. Also, not to mention the added options of Mount, Hudson-Odoi and Loftus-Cheek and how vital playing time is for their progression.
Lampard may have well brought one of Germany current best players, however, he must find a way to utilise him as Chelsea have often failed to do with some of their expensive purchases of strikers.