Werner and Havertz v Man United - what was the point of that, Frank?

Chelsea have snapped up two of the biggest talents in German football and are making them look decidedly average players

9:00am on Monday 26th October 2020
Paul Macdonald

It takes time to bed in new signings to a side.

But it's difficult at this stage to understand the plan to get the best out of Timo Werner and Kai Havertz at Chelsea.

In the dreary 0-0 draw against Man Utd at Old Trafford on Sunday evening, the fact that goalkeeper Edouard Mendy was the bright spot after the amount of money spent on attacking talent tells its own story.

Havertz and Werner meandered through the contest in the driving rain, barely having any offensive involvement whatsoever before being unceremoniously replaced just after the 70 min mark. We are now eight games in, in all competitions, and other than a first-half cameo from Werner against Southampton, it's unclear what we are supposed to be looking at.

Chelsea achieved just 0.25 xG in the contest. 0.05 of which was a blocked shot from Werner in the 52nd minute, while Havertz didn't even have a shot in the match. They made just 47 passes between them with a completion rate of 77%. They won just six challenges from a possible 22 (29%). In short they represented zero attacking threat.

And it makes you wonder just what kind of players Chelsea think they signed, or what their plan is for either.

Werner has been playing wide either in a 4-3-3 or in a 4-2-3-1, which perhaps isn't optimum, but he played from that side on plenty of occasions for RB Leipzig when Patrick Schick played through the middle. So his position can't even be used to explain his drastic drop off in numbers.

Timo Werner: Chelsea 20/21

Werner season-on-season

Goals P900.380.76
Shots P902.43.4
OT P901.11.9
xG P900.290.56
Ass P900.130.27
Key Pass P900.381.82

Again, this early in the season we must stress that the sample size remains small. But this is eight appearances including League Cup and Champions League, versus 45 appearances for RB Leipzig last season. All of Werner's attacking metrics haven't just regressed, they aren't close.

Now there could be other issues - maybe Werner is still settling in to life in London, or maybe there's other tactical reasons, but they certainly aren't reflected in his numbers. He isn't winning the ball high in the press - in fairness he's barely won the ball back in the opposition third all season - all while producing this attacking output.

And his best performance to date, his two goals and an assist in the 3-3 draw with Southampton, were all individual moments of his own making. The first goal, his dummy and run across the defence to score. The second his control, his lob, his finish. And the third, a lung-bursting run to lay a goal on a plate for Havertz. This is what he can do, but he's rarely being allowed to do it.

And Havertz looks like the pace of the game and the tactical structure around him all come as a fundamental surprise. At Leverkusen he could feature either as the No. 10 or as the forward, and he's been tried in both, so far to limited effect.

Kai Havertz: Chelsea 20/21

Havertz season-on-season

Goals P900.140.4
Shots P900.91.8
OT P900.60.9
xG P900.140.34
Ass P900.140.2
Key Pass P901.41.4

Like his international colleague, Havertz is less effective than ever. The above numbers are for his performances domestically (excluding the Barnsley game, which will pad numbers).

Shots are down, xG is down, goals are down, assists are down. Key passes are still at a level on a par with last season but no-one who watched Havertz last season can say that is him at his best.

In fact his numbers are much closer to his ineffective spell at the beginning of last season, where his drifting displays saw him ultimately dropped from the starting XI. Havertz most definitely has this in him and that should be a real concern for Chelsea. It took a reboot of Havertz to get him back to his best then, and it needs to happen again before, unfairly or not, people start questions what £80m was spent on.

These are two sublime players, generational talents even. And yes it takes time to adjust. But whether Lampard knows how to get there is another story.

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