LONDON — Chelsea‘s 2-0 win over Newcastle United was snug, however this was an evening when droughts have been damaged and confidence restored. Timo Werner was excellent, whereas Kepa Arrizabalaga repaid Thomas Tuchel’s religion in his first Premier League begin since October.
Whereas Newcastle provided little in assault, this was a near-perfect night time for Chelsea. The one blot on the copybook was the first-half harm to Tammy Abraham, however it was his substitute Olivier Giroud who scored their opener, with Werner grabbing their second. It is now six video games unbeaten for Tuchel, and, crucially, the strikers have began scoring — their first within the league underneath the brand new boss.
Having waited 13 matches for a Premier League recreation, the ultimate seconds of the purpose drought have been maybe Werner’s most nerve-wracking.
Chelsea have been already 1-0 to the great at this stage, following Giroud’s opener — which Werner performed a key position in teeing up as he bamboozled Emil Krafth to hammer the ball throughout purpose, the place from the ensuing scramble allowed Giroud a snug close-range end — and had simply earned a nook. Werner discovered himself on the far publish because the supply got here in and having in some way discovered its strategy to him unmarked, he slipped and slid however managed to steer the ball over the road, regardless of Karl Darlow’s finest efforts to claw it again out.
Then got here the VAR examine to examine if the ball hit Giroud’s hand en path to Werner. As he waited for the choice, he informed his teammates within the dugout that it might be simply his luck to have his strike dominated out. Mercifully for the Germany worldwide, the decision got here again in Chelsea’s favour. Werner — full with bleeding lip from an earlier bang to the face — gave a short look to the heavens, after which exhaled.
It marked the top of his run with no prime flight-goal. It simply so occurred the purpose got here within the one thousandth minute of this drought — his worst league scoreless spell since he was again at VfB Stuttgart within the 2014-15 season. Six seasons on and it was his goal-scoring document at RB Leipzig that prompted Chelsea to spend £45 million to deliver him over from the Bundesliga. Having scored 34 in 45 matches for Leipzig final time period, his return of 4 in 23 league video games this season for Chelsea continues to be far decrease than he’d count on.
However this lack of completed product was not for need of attempting. Werner has at occasions minimize a pissed off and disconsolate determine at Chelsea. He runs himself into the bottom, all the time hovering within the half-spaces, trying to play off the defenders’ shoulders and chopping in off the flank. He is tried that at Chelsea, however underneath Frank Lampard it simply did not fairly click on for him. Beneath Tuchel he is proven inexperienced shoots of restoration together with his two assists in opposition to Sheffield United on Feb. 7, and this scrambled effort will really feel like a large weight has been lifted off his shoulders.
“I used to be blissful I scored, lastly,” Werner mentioned after the match. “A nonetheless lengthy strategy to go in the remainder of the season. As a striker, you all the time wish to rating.”
This was easy for Chelsea, and their much-maligned goalkeeper Kepa. The world’s costliest keeper was handed his first Premier League begin since Oct. 17, when he conceded three in opposition to Southampton. Since then he noticed Edouard Mendy take his spot, together with his match motion restricted to cup competitors. However after Kepa’s spectacular exhibiting in opposition to Barnsley final week within the FA Cup, Tuchel continued his coverage of giving gamers a second probability to impress and the Spain worldwide repaid the religion. However Mendy stays Chelsea’s No. 1, as Tuchel mentioned post-match.
Kepa’s going to want some renaissance to quieten the doubters over his long-term future in west London, however simply as Tuchel did with Marcos Alonso, Jorginho and Antonio Rudiger, he is drawn a line within the sand from Lampard’s tenure, and allowed the squad to show to him they’re worthy of being a part of his long-term plans. Kepa did what was required and made sensible saves from a Jonjo Shelvey free kick and a glancing header from Joe Willock, however it stays to be seen whether or not this was the beginning of his rebirth or an opportunity for him to impress within the store window.
Whereas Newcastle have been disjointed and lacked cohesion, Chelsea are persevering with to construct underneath Tuchel and we’re beginning to see early indicators of how they’re going to look in the long run. Mateo Kovacic is the heartbeat of the aspect, and dictates the tempo from the center of the park. His lengthy, ranging balls or quick, neat passes are as a rule the catalyst for the workforce’s transitional play. Alonso has nailed down the first-choice left-wing-back spot, with Callum Hudson-Odoi on the suitable. Mason Mount was harmful once more — and will’ve grabbed Chelsea’s third within the first half solely to shoot extensive — whereas the defence is trying settled.
It stays to be seen, nevertheless, who Tuchel’s first-choice striker shall be, or how precisely Hakim Ziyech or Christian Pulisic slot in. Pulisic was an unused substitute — Reece James was introduced on for Hudson-Odoi late on — and has managed simply 84 minutes out of a potential 450 within the league underneath his new supervisor. He nonetheless has work to do to recapture the shape we noticed late on final season.
“Properly in the present day the primary change was already made within the first half from harm and Christian was a good resolution on whether or not he begins once more after the cup recreation, or if he comes from the bench and one other 11 begins,” Tuchel mentioned. “It makes it tough because the third change, you do not wish to use that too early so we did what we all the time do the center of the match we solely take into consideration what might help you win the match. Christian completely deserved to start out, he deserved to come back in, so I hope he retains on going and I am completely certain he shall be an necessary affect for us and make an necessary influence for us sooner or later.”
Rebuilding Werner’s confidence was one of many gadgets in direction of the highest of Tuchel’s to-do record when he took over Chelsea in late January.
The £45m signing from RB Leipzig had not needed for lack of effort, however it was the ending product missing from Werner’s output. However on this chilly night time in west London, he put in a efficiency worthy of his fame and promise as he stored Newcastle’s defenders spinning and eventually bought the purpose he’d labored so laborious for.
“Timo was decisive for us in the present day,” Tuchel mentioned.