sport news MARTIN SAMUEL: Timo Werner is a game-changer for Chelsea

Watching Timo Werner it is incredible to think how long Chelsea have gone to here without genuine pace in their front-line.

Not a striker who is a bit lively. Not one who is a wonderful, bruising irritant, like Diego Costa, a battering ram of a centre-forward. Quick, as Werner was to win the penalty for the first goal. Rapid, as he appeared late in the first half, when he pulled clear of his man and tried to beat Mat Ryan at the near post.

Speed has never been more important in the modern game, yet Chelsea, for all their success, have often done without. 

Timo Werner is a different type of striker to what Chelsea have had for several years

Timo Werner is a different type of striker to what Chelsea have had for several years

Compared to previous Chelsea strikers Werner brings a lot of pace to their forward-line

Compared to previous Chelsea strikers Werner brings a lot of pace to their forward-line

Players that were supposed to be fast, like Fernando Torres, turned up slow. Big names disappointed. Frank Lampard worked with the greatest striker of the Roman Abamovich era in Didier Drogba, so it is no surprise that given his first major transfer window, he made finding a world-class goalscorer his priority. 

We all know the weaknesses of Chelsea’s defence; we know Kepa Arrizabalaga has not lived up to expectations in goal. He was at fault for Brighton’s equaliser, slow down to long-range shot, and his replacement cannot arrive soon enough. 

This is a team that kept one clean sheet away from home in the Premier League last season, and ended the 2019-20 campaign conceding 11 goals in four games. 

Yet Lampard still went in pursuit of Werner and a supporting cast to supply him. He wanted to make Chelsea a threat again: and he looks to have succeeded.

The midfield has, for too long, picked up the slack at Chelsea. Lampard did it as a player, year after year, so prolific that it took the arrival of no less a talent than Cristiano Ronaldo for to challenge. 

Then it was Eden Hazard. Not every season, but when he fancied it. And when he fancied it, there really was no-one better.

In between, strikers came and went. Costa was a horror show for defenders, but eventually for his manager too. Alvaro Morata was a crashing disappointment, given his £60m fee. Lampard, hands tied in the transfer market, showed faith in Tammy Abraham but he came up just short last season and increasingly lost his place to Olivier Giroud. 

His dash which led to Chelsea being awarded a penalty show they now have pace up-front

His dash which led to Chelsea being awarded a penalty show they now have pace up-front

The Frenchman has his qualities but it is hard to imagine him in the mix at the three clubs that finished above Chelsea last season. And, no, it wasn’t the most impressive performance from Chelsea at Brighton last night. 

They still look vulnerable at the back, and much of the passing was sloppy. But, in Werner, they have got one. And reasonably priced, too. Given what are being asked for Jadon Sancho, the ball park £48m for Werner does not appear too extravagant.

Perhaps that is what had got under Jurgen Klopp’s skin when

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