Chelsea will have to play much better than they did against Brentford if they are to win this season’s Premier League title. Thomas Tuchel’s side got the 1-0 win they needed to return to the top of the table, but not many in blue left the Brentford Community Stadium having played their best football.
However, the performance of Timo Werner surely gave Tuchel food for thought. While the German international failed to score or assist, the way he was deployed as one-half of a front two hinted at how he could be used this season. One wonders if Tuchel spent the international break watching tapes of how Inter got the best out of Romelu Lukaku.
Indeed, the role Werner played for Chelsea against Brentford was similar to the one Lautaro Martinez performed to great effect alongside Lukaku when the pair were the most devastating strike partnership in Italian football. While Lukaku was the one who primarily provided the finishing touch in front of goal, Martinez offered movement and spatial awareness around him.
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In binary terms, Lukaku has delivered for Chelsea this season, scoring three goals in six Premier League appearances since making the £98m return to Stamford Bridge in the summer window. However, the Belgian striker has grown increasingly isolated as Chelsea have looked to him as an orthodox frontman to hit with long balls and crosses.
Manchester United fell into this trap when Lukaku was at the club, seeing the Belgian for his physical attributes rather than his technical capacity as an all-round forward. Antonio Conte demonstrated how to harness Lukaku and this is why Tuchel’s recent deployment of Werner as a strike partner for his £98m striker is notable. Werner could be Chelsea’s Martinez.
Even as Chelsea got the job done against an impressive Brentford side who have hit the ground running in the Premier League this season, they showed many of the faults that have hindered them in recent weeks. Primarily, Tuchel’s team are currently lacking in creativity and invention - they don’t forge as many goal scoring chances as a side with their attacking talent should, registering just five shots.
But this is partly why Werner, who scored twice for Germany over the international break, has grown in stature of late. He possesses a different skill set to everyone else around him. Werner gives Tuchel another route to goal, another way to create space and open up opponents. The German might be unpolished in some of his output, but Chelsea would be a weaker squad without him.
Timo Werner for Chelsea against Brentford in the Premier League.
Image credit: Getty Images
There is still a sense that Tuchel is working out the best system for Chelsea as an attacking outfit. Lukaku was signed to give the European champions the cutting edge they lacked at times last season, but there is now an acknowledgement that the Belgian can’t simply be dropped into the side and expected to do it all on his own.
Against Brentford, Werner did a lot to break in behind and provide Chelsea’s midfielders with an option. Even when he didn’t receive the pass, the German gave the opposition defence something else to think about. Werner drew defenders away from Lukaku in much the same way Martinez used to for Inter. Tuchel might not wish to remember much about Saturday’s win over Brentford, but this is one thing he should keep in mind.
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