When Timo Werner played in the Bundesliga, he could have risen up now, enjoying the traditional winter holiday of German football that lasts a month from Christmas through January.
Instead, the Chelsea striker faces the prospect of four matches in the next 13 days over the holidays, starting with his London rivals West Ham on Monday night.
It will be Chelsea’s sixth game in a hectic December, and Werner has already been honest about the impact of the additional requirements of English football on him.
Timo Werner has not scored in his last eight matches for Chelsea after a bright start to the season
The German striker somehow missed that opportunity in this month’s Leeds match
Perhaps that explains why the German scoring touch recently abandoned him after what was a very promising start to life at Stamford Bridge.
RB Leipzig’s £ 53m summer deal has not found the net in eight Chelsea matches now, a drought that could ring some alarm bells for coach Frank Lampard.
Werner struggled to make a big impact in last week’s two Everton and Wolves defeats, the two setbacks that saw Chelsea tumble to eighth place ahead of the London Derby with the Hammers that they really could have achieved by winning.
With Liverpool starting to slide into their groove and Leicester and Manchester United looking likely to keep up with the pace, they won’t want to hold back any more.
It would definitely be a useful time for Werner to regain the kind of deadly one that saw him score seven goals in five successive matches for club and country in October and November.
Werner made a very positive start in life at Chelsea after his move from Leipzig for £ 53m
But this has turned into a frustration in recent times as the striker failed to take advantage of his chances
Premier League unless mentioned
Monday West Ham (home)
Boxing Day Arsenal (A)
December 28 Aston Villa (H)
January 3 Manchester City (H)
January 10 Morecambe (H)
The third round of the FA Cup
January 15 Fulham (A)
The 24-year-old spoke at least candidly about losing his fitness when so many other players were screaming and resorting to clichés.
“The start was very good,” Werner told Sky Sports, “but now after a lot of matches I am suffering a little.”
“I think it’s hard to play every three days … and on Saturday against teams that can rest all week.
“It’s hard to be the best in every game but the Premier League is so much fun to play in.”
Werner has a point about workload intense. He’s played some role in all but one of Chelsea’s 21 matches so far this season. The one he sat was an early Carabao Cup match against Barnsley.
Lampard began playing in all 13 Premier League matches, playing more than 70 minutes per match, being substituted in only four matches.
He also started Chelsea’s first four matches in the Champions League group stage, before starting on the bench in the last two matches, against Seville and Krasnodar, after securing qualification for the round of 16.
He participated in the Carabao Cup match with Tottenham which was a penalty shootout and Werner was very present. He also played in all six European Nations League matches in Germany.
But the stress of playing every three days shouldn’t be a new thing to Werner. After all, Leipzig played in the UEFA Champions League last season and started every team match. There were also midweek rounds from the German Cup before Christmas to the Carabao Cup draw in England.
Werner is swinging on goal during Chelsea’s Champions League match with Krasnodar
Werner’s figure may create dilemma for Chelsea manager Frank Lampard over Christmas
However, the drop in his numbers between last season and this is undeniable, even if you allow for the fact that his 34 goals in all competitions for Leipzig were truly exceptional.
His number of shots per 90 minutes decreased from 3.9 (or 3.8 in 2018-19) to 2.6. His number of shots on target decreased from 2.1 per game to 1.1. The opportunities created decreased from 1.7 to 1.0.
The number of touches Werner can expect in the opponent’s penalty area per game has decreased from 8.3 last season to 5.9 at Chelsea.
Comparing Werner’s stats from this season and his recent stats at RB Leipzig shows a decrease in all his 90-minute averages from chances created to touches in the penalty area.
Werner raised one possible explanation when speaking over the weekend: “The Premier League is a little different from the old league. It’s tougher than I thought.
Communication is more difficult here than in Germany. This is what I expected, but not like this.
So the Old Chestnut about the Premier League being the ultimate test in football, full of strong and powerful defenders who will push you back or make fun of you may be true.
Another factor in Werner’s performance was his changing role in the Chelsea attack. While in Leipzig he was always a fickle striker, Lampard resorted to posting him on the left side of the Chelsea front line with Olivier Giroud or Tammy Abraham in the middle.
Olivier Giroud celebrates scoring goals against Wolverhampton in Chelsea’s loss there last week
Tammy Abraham is another striker choice for Chelsea if Werner does not start scoring
This certainly helps explain the reduction in touches in the penalty area if opportunities are not created. It is also declining while his average number of dribbles has not decreased as steeply as some of the other metrics.
So Lampard faces a dilemma. If he moved Werner to his normal position, there would be no place for Girou or Abraham, both of whom have made their case to play so far this season.
Is it fair to send players out of long service for trying to get the best out of the summer’s £ 53m arrival?
Scoring a Werner goal in time against West Ham on Monday night should reassure the team.