We all know Timo Werner is in a bit of a rough patch right now, but it felt like his time at Chelsea hit a new low in Saturday’s 1-0 win over Fulham.
The German, who set Chelsea back a cool £47.5m in the summer, stretched his run to ten Premier League games without a goal as he fired a blank against the struggling Cottagers, with one miss stealing the headlines for all the wrong reasons.
Late on in the game, Werner latched on to a ball over the top and had the entire Fulham half to run at Alphonse Areola. It was the exact situation from which Werner had made his name. This was destined to be the moment he turned things around.
But he missed.
Werner sliced his effort well wide of the goal and looked visibly distraught at doing so, but it’s something he’s had to get used to in recent weeks. The shooting boots simply aren’t there right now.
His struggles have provided joy to a lot of rival fans on Twitter, with Chelsea‘s wretched history with strikers being mentioned time and time again. Werner has already been billed as a new Fernando Torres, Alvaro Morata or Falcao – big-name strikers who forgot how to play football in London.
His form is obviously something to be concerned about – to not score in ten league games when he bagged 28 in 34 last season is hardly ideal – but to compare Werner to some of the club’s most historically poor strikers is ludicrous.
For starters, it seems as though Werner’s struggles have been massively blown out of context. This is a man who has nine goals and six assists in 26 appearances in all competitions. They’re by no means elite numbers, but they’re solid. To suggest he’s flopped already doesn’t make sense.
However, there’s no denying he’s not playing like a £47.5m striker who just went toe-to-toe with Robert Lewandowski for 12 months. Chelsea expected the goals to flood in, and simply put, they haven’t.
The blame needs to be shared around for this one. Werner obviously hasn’t been playing well enough, and he’ll know that he has to do more to justify his price tag, but Frank Lampard hasn’t always given him the tools he needs to impress.
On this ten-game dry streak, Werner spent the first seven games as a left winger, a position he is comfortable in but would never argue is his strongest. He’s only been a striker in the last three, two of which came as a post-70th minute substitute.
Of his 26 appearances this year, just nine have been as a striker, so his return of nine goals suddenly doesn’t seem so bad.
The talent is obviously in there, but it’s up to Werner, Lampard and everyone else at Chelsea to find a way to maximise it.
He’s still finding himself in the right positions to score, and crucially, that means he’s good enough. Werner has been showing the positioning and movement needed to be a deadly striker, but he’s yet to piece that together with the finishing skills he left in the Bundesliga.
It’s a confidence thing. We saw this with Torres and we definitely saw this with Morata, who looked like he was carrying the weight of Stamford Bridge on his shoulders every waking minute of his existence. It’s up to Werner to do what the others could not and show he’s strong enough to get out of this slump.
What Werner does have on his side is recent pedigree. While Torres was declining by the time he joined and Morata had very little experience as the undisputed starting striker for a team, we know for a fact that Werner is just getting going.
He’s up for the challenge, but he could do with rising to it soon.