The 2019/20 season for club’s across Europe was one that started off as normal, gradually became more concerning amid the coronavirus starting to wreak havoc, being stopped completely for a couple of months and then returning with no supporters in attendance.
That last point is still the case in England, aside from a two-week spell where some grounds – including Chelsea’s home of Stamford Bridge – were allowed up to 2000 supporters in attendance.
That didn’t last long however and we’re not expecting supporters to be back in English arenas until the final gameweek of the season in May and that’s only if the Government deems it safe to do so.
Back in the 2019/20 campaign, which seems a lifetime ago now, Timo Werner was plying his trade in the Bundesliga with RB Leipzig. After 30 minutes off the bench against Wolfsburg in a 0-0 draw, Werner and his teammates wouldn’t play football again until nine weeks later following lockdown and football grinding to a halt across the globe.
Upon the resumption of the Bundesliga season, Leipzig had nine games remaining to secure their place in the Champions League for next season. Up to that point, Werner had netted 20 goals, including an astonishing run of 12 goals in seven games between the start of November and the turn of 2020.
After lockdown and when the Bundesliga returned, Werner would score seven further times in the final nine games of the campaign that secured third place in the table, still a whopping 18 points behind champions Bayern Munich, however.
Chelsea moved to bring Werner to the capital last summer for a fee of £49.5million and big things were expected of the striker, who had also been heavily linked with a move to Liverpool but it was the Blues who got there first.
It’s not quite panned out as well as hoped for Werner since he has moved to England, scoring ten times in all competitions this season and having a very lean spell in the Premier League with just one goal since November 7 in the top flight.
But maybe the Blues can take some solace in his post-lockdown goalscoring form for Leipzig, which is a similar spell of time remaining in the season that Chelsea will have after the current international break.
Thomas Tuchel’s side have eight Premier League games remaining this season, as well as a Champions League quarter final tie with Porto and FA Cup semi final against Man City to play. Should they reach the final of both competitions then they will have another six potential matches to play.
Having struggled so far this season in Chelsea blue, now is as good a time as any for Werner to start hitting hios straps. Having been profligate against Everton and Leeds United, it’s not like Werner isn’t getting the chances – he’s just not finishing them off.
Tuchel was asked about Werner’s future last week following increased speculation that the Blues wanted to bring superstar frontman Erling Haaland to the capital and Werner could be used in any deal with Borussia Dortmund to make the transfer happen.
“For Timo, I think he has no reason now to be frustrated because he did an amazing match against Liverpool, maybe his best match since I arrived,” Tuchel said.
“Then he had a good match against Everton with a lot of chances to score, which he normally is clinical enough and strong enough to score.
“He did not score, okay, this sticks in a situation like this, this can affect his self-confidence, yeah, of course. But what does it help?
“The clear advice from us is don’t focus on the result, focus on the process. Get your decision-making right, get your technique right, make good decisions, for the decision take the right technique and the ball will do the rest, and the opponent’s goalkeeper will do the rest, either it’s in or he makes an amazing save.
“He can improve from there but there’s simply no time to reflect on what’s going to be in the summer or next year. There’s simply no time. ‘In the moment I don’t see why he should be frustrated.”
Werner himself spoke of a switch in position that looked to be getting the best out of him after he picked up an assist and won a penalty in a 2-1 win over Sheffield United in February.
“Every manager is different in how he wants us to play,” said Werner.
“He gives us a lot of ideas. Now I play as a left number 10, not a left winger, so I have more space for my runs in the middle and can play behind a striker, or with a number 10 behind me as a second striker.
“So it’s very good for me and I think there were also good moves from the manager in the last two wins.”
Last season, the third game after lockdown saw Werner bang in a hat trick in a 5-0 drubbing of Mainz in the German top flight. Further strikes came against Koln, Dusseldorf and a brace against Augsburg.
That run only further enhanced the 25-year-old’s reputation as one of the most fearsome strikers on the continent. He will need a similar run after the international breakn with Chelsea to give a gentle reminder of what he is capable of.