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Timo Werner: Chelsea’s answer to Arsenal flop Nicolas Pepe?

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By Robin Bairner

Updated 8:32 PM – January 16, 2021

What had started with promise for Timo Werner at Chelsea seems in grave danger of unravelling.

When he found the net against Sheffield United in a 4-1 victory, it was the seventh time he had scored in eight games. He was the man in form, a man justifying his £63 million price tag.

Since then, he has found the target only against League Two opponents Morecambe in the FA Cup.

Any hope that his strike last week might have sparked some confidence in the Germany international, though, was soon quelled back in the Premier League.

Deployed off the bench by Frank Lampard at Fulham, Werner had a golden opportunity to end his 10-game drought in the top flight. He found himself in perfect position, bearing down on goal with his side 1-0 up and in stoppage-time. In usual circumstances, it was a chance he would take.

On this occasion, though, Werner fired the ball hopelessly wide.

With tremendous competition for places in the Blues’ ranks, he now faces an uphill task to win back the confidence of the manager – and perhaps more crucially, himself.

Grim form

The last six weeks make particularly grim reading for Werner. He has featured on eight occasions since 8th December, when he came a late cameo in a Champions League draw with Krasnodar. During that time, he has failed to secure a FootballCritic Rating of 7 or more in any game against an opponent that would be considered elite.

Looking more closely at the numbers makes grim reading.

During this period, Werner had played 475 minutes and has contributed just a single assist.

What is perhaps most concerning is that, by and large, he is not getting into good areas and not getting others into good areas.

Early in this barren run, he had an xG of 1.27 in matches against Everton, Wolves and West Ham.

Subsequent fixtures against Arsenal, Aston Villa and Manchester City, in which he has admitted had less playing time, produced an xG of just 0.21.

In terms of his fashioning openings for others, meanwhile, he created only three chances, supplied only two accurate key passes and delivered eight crosses, only two of which have found their mark.

This is not the form of a £70 million forward.

How Werner compares to Pepe

STATISTIC WERNER 20/21 PEPE 19/20
GOALS PER 90 0.25 0.21
xG PER 90 0.36 0.19
ASSISTS PER 90 0.25 0.25
CHANCES PER 90 1.44 0.79
CHANCE COVERSION % 17 26%
CHANCES CREATED PER 90 0.82 0.96
SUCCESSFUL ACTIONS % 68% 70%
Premier League only

Indeed, it is comparable to another left-sided attacker who recently made a big move to London: Arsenal’s Nicolas Pepe.

Pepe traded Lille for the Gunners in 2019 and is considered to be an expensive flop. Around £72m traded hands.

Taking Werner’s first Premier League campaign as a whole, his numbers are healthier than those Pepe achieved with Arsenal last season – but not significantly so.

Indeed, Werner’s goals-per-90 rate is only 0.04 better than Pepe’s, while their assist figure is trending at the same pace.

Indeed, with an xG-per-90, the long-term signs are that Werner should improve his scoring rate.

Misses like Saturday’s against Fulham, of course, will not help his confidence any, but it is too soon to consider his recent form anything more than a blip.

If he is still in this funk in 12 months, like Pepe, then Chelsea have the right to fret.

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