You never want to see your team forced into alternative playing styles when they lose key players. But that was the case for Chelsea in the run of matches where they had to face domestic and continental challenges without either of Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner upfront, and successfully resorting to Kai Havertz and Christian Pulisic as their substitutes in the usual no.9 slot.
So much success we found in the “false nine” role in recent matches that the community demanded its stay, at least for the then upcoming match against Manchester United at Stamford Bridge. But manager Thomas Tuchel, having both Werner and Lukaku both available following return from injury, had a different idea.
While Werner did return to the pitch on a great note by scoring our fourth and final goal against Juventus last Tuesday, it was perhaps too soon to get the guy to lead the attacking charge against a tricky United side despite recent their bad form. Even Tuchel had to admit his fellow countryman looked far from his absolute best in his attempts to get Chelsea going in front of the goal.
“I think that we still see that Timo hasn’t played for a long time. So can we expect that he is on his absolute peak? No, we cannot. So it’s always a bit of what can we expect in this moment.
“He looked very sharp in training, scored many goals in the last two training sessions. That’s why I went with my gut and put him on the pitch and hoped that he could maybe hurt the two central defenders.
“It was a decision for Timo because he looked really sharp and had the goal against Juventus so we thought maybe he could be decisive or the big threat in the middle. It wasn’t easy for him today and you could see that he clearly lacks some games and from here we go.”
While Werner got the starting nod, Lukaku stayed on the bench — as he did during our Juve match. In the ideal scenario he would stayed there until he is back to full fitness. But given the state of the match at the time of his (perhaps too) late entrance as a substitute to Werner, Tuchel felt compelled to call for the big Belgian as Chelsea made their last attempts at getting a winning goal at the Bridge.
“If Romelu’s fully fit he’s a starter for us but he’s not in the moment. It was more than I actually wanted to use him but the game was so close to the opponent’s goal that we thought he could help with this, pushing, maybe one last touch. We were lacking a bit of a threat in the middle of the goal.”
-Thomas Tuchel; Source: Chelsea FC
At least we tried our hardest to make something happen, and we got very close to overcoming what Tuchel felt to be an undeserved draw. But at the end of the day we could not find the advantage in the scoreline.
It happens. Time to move on and recover.