Tactical Insight: Breaking down Werner’s wing-play and questioning if it restricts the German’s output


Great expectations

As one of the most lethal strikers in Germany, Timo Werner became hot property at RB Leipzig.

Liverpool were long tipped to land the exciting German forward. Werner even spoke about the link to Jugen Klopp’s side, and how it had flattered him.

However, it was Chelsea who eventually came calling, and the 24-year-old made the decision to join Frank Lampard’s side in a summer which has seen a huge amount of spending take place at Stamford Bridge.

With the mercurial Kai Havertz having joined from Bayer Leverkusen, it has been suggested that Chelsea could even mount a challenge for the Premier League title. Their start to the season, though, has been far from smooth.

A battling win against Brighton was followed up by a humbling loss to Liverpool, and a spirited 3-goal comeback which spared blue blushes away at West Brom.

6 goals in 3 games, none of which have come courtesy of Chelsea’s new frontman.

Wide of the mark

Of Werner’s 5 shots against Brighton and Liverpool, the German only managed to hit the target once. Against West Brom, Frank Lampard decided to field Werner in a wider position. Tammy Abraham started centrally and Kai Havertz again further wide. As shown in the heat map below, Werner did drift, and found chances centrally despite his positional change.

Timo Werner Heat Map vs west Brom: Displaying the freedom given to the German throughout the match.

Timo Werner heat map vs west Brom: Displaying the freedom given to the German throughout the match.

His best opportunity of the evening fell to Werner in the first-half. A brilliant piece of combination play between Havertz and Mason Mount saw the England international cut the ball back for Werner, who had swapped positions with Abraham and drifted centrally into the box. The German smashed a shot against the crossbar, and looked visibly frustrated with once again failing to find the net.

BIRMINGHAM - ENGLAND: Timo Werner misses chance to put Chelsea level.

BIRMINGHAM – ENGLAND: Timo Werner misses chance to put Chelsea level.

Significantly, it should also be noted that Abraham aimed his run across the box towards the front post. This could present a problem if Lampard is to continue with this system. Having two central players vying for similar positions would allow open space on Chelsea’s left flank, and leave the full-back exposed to possible counter attacks.

Despite this, according to Wyscout, Werner successfully completed 64% of his total actions versus West Brom. This is a higher figure than either of his previous fixtures. Passing had increased frequency and accuracy. Playing in a wide role allowed Werner greater involvement in the game.

Statistical conclusion

It is unclear whether or not Werner’s sole performance in this alternative role proves that he will be wasted whilst out wide. What is clear is that Chelsea haven’t invested a large sum of money to utilise the German out of position.

Werner’s statistics centrally are wildly impressive. Across his domestic youth and senior career, his lethality playing as the central striker far outweigh his potential in wider positions.

In 60 games deployed initially on the right or left-wing, Werner has scored 10 goals. In comparison, when played centrally, across 209 games, he has scored 114 goals.

Werner’s intense work-rate and enjoyment in roaming mean that Frank Lampard can be flexible with his selections. However, it seems only a matter of time until Christian Pulisic and Hakim Ziyech’s respective returns push Werner back into a central role in the Blues’ front-line.

See also: Frank Lampard provides insight into convincing Timo Werner to join Chelsea

Arsenal’s Rob Holding set for Newcastle as new suitors emerge for Maitland-Niles & Martinez

This article was edited by Conor Laird.

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Premier League table

# Team MP D P
1 Everton FC 3 5 9
2 Leicester City FC 2 5 6
3 Arsenal FC 2 4 6
4 Liverpool FC 2 3 6
5 Crystal Palace FC 3 2 6
6 Tottenham Hotspur FC 2 2 3
7 Manchester City FC 1 2 3
8 Aston Villa FC 1 1 3
9 Leeds United 2 0 3
10 Brighton & Hove Albion FC 3 0 3
11 Chelsea FC 2 0 3
12 Wolverhampton Wanderers FC 2 0 3
13 Manchester United FC 2 -1 3
14 Newcastle United FC 2 -1 3
15 Burnley FC 1 -2 0
16 West Ham United FC 2 -3 0
17 Sheffield United FC 2 -3 0
18 Fulham FC 2 -4 0
19 Southampton FC 2 -4 0
20 West Bromwich Albion 2 -6 0
Player Team Goals
Calvert-Lewin, Dominic Everton FC 5
Son, Heung Min Tottenham Hotspur FC 4
Maupay, Neal Brighton & Hove Albion FC 3
Zaha, Wilfried Crystal Palace FC 3
Ings, Danny Southampton FC 3
Salah, Mohamed Liverpool FC 3
Bamford, Patrick Leeds United 3
Costa, Helder Leeds United 2
Klich, Mateusz Leeds United 2
Lacazette, Alexandre Arsenal FC 2
Vardy, Jamie Leicester City FC 2
Robinson, Callum West Bromwich Albion 2
Mitrovic, Aleksandar Fulham FC 2
Jimenez, Raul Wolverhampton Wanderers FC 2
Mane, Sadio Liverpool FC 2
Kane, Harry Tottenham Hotspur FC 1
Townsend, Andros Crystal Palace FC 1
Pereira, Matheus West Bromwich Albion 1
Aubameyang, Pierre-Emerick Arsenal FC 1
Rodriguez, James Everton FC 1

Source: 101greatgoals.com