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It had been a long couple of months without a goal for Timo Werner, which probably explains the smile of relief on his face when referee Peter Bankes finally conceded his goal on Monday night.
The German played like he had a point to prove against Newcastle at Stamford Bridge, but for the first 40 minutes or so it seemed like the same problems continued to plague him.
He had sent one broad effort, thrown another over the bar, and must have thought he had turned down another opportunity as Karl Darlow rushed to prevent his frustrated effort from crossing the line.
But the goal was hit, and not even an excruciating delay from the VAR could stop the moment he had been waiting for so long. For the first time since November he was credited with a Chelsea goal, and he could breathe a sigh of relief.
It was really the goal that his last performances had earned him. He made the previous goal for Olivier Giroud, charging down the left flank and flipping Emil Krafth inside out before throwing a taunting ball that eventually snapped towards the Frenchman.
It came after three assists in his previous two games, and it was another sign that Thomas Tuchel might have finally cracked the code that Frank Lampard never could.
Part of what made Werner’s performance so effective was the role he played. While Lampard was often vilified for playing him from the left of the three forwards, he seems to work in his new 3-4-3 and 3-5-2 formations, where he doesn’t have a fixed position.
The width provided by Callum Hudson-Odoi and Marcos Alonso stretched the field to its capacity, and that meant Newcastle, defending it with a four on the back and a diamond in midfield, simply couldn’t cover the gaps. Werner, then, had a lot to work with.
It floated fluidly between hitting the sideline and sliding into the inner channel, and wandered its territory with a leap in its stride. He had been given license to wreak havoc, and we saw him on the first goal as he ran towards Krafth, he stopped short, took off again, and threw the ball into a dangerous area without even looking.
After months of tentatively jogging with the purpose and intent of a headless chicken, he seemed like a gamer with a plan.
His goal was far more instinctive, taking advantage of a lousy mark from Jamal Lewis to pass the ball over the line. But it’s the kind of thing we’re likely to see more and more of as your confidence grows within a system designed to accommodate it.
He still has a long way to go after such a questionable start to his Chelsea career, but with Tuchel at the helm, he finally has a clearly defined role in the team.
Find space, move into space, make things happen, was it really that simple all along?