West Brom 3-3 Chelsea
- Goals: Callum Robinson x2 (£5.5m), Kyle Bartley (£4.5m) | Mason Mount (£6.9m), Callum Hudson-Odoi (£5.8m), Tammy Abraham (£7.3m)
- Assists: Matheus Pereira (£6.0m), Darnell Furlong (£4.5m) | Cesar Azpilicueta (£5.9m), Kai Havertz (£8.4m), Mount
- Bonus points: C Robinson x3, Mount x2, Reece James x1 (£5.1m)
Timo Werner (£9.4m) remains goalless in the Premier League after Chelsea’s trip to West Bromwich Albion did not go according to plan.
The German international had been understandably turned to by 800,000+ Fantasy Premier League managers for the Gameweek 3 captaincy only to be rewarded with nothing more than a two-point score.
As some start to lose patience in Werner, it serves to analyse what went wrong for him on Saturday evening as there were, admittedly, some mitigating circumstances behind his first blank of the campaign.
Tammy Abraham’s (£7.3m) impressive EFL Cup performance midweek was enough to convince Frank Lampard to hand the centre-forward role to him at the Hawthorns, which shifted Werner onto the left-hand side of a 4-2-3-1.
That left him with less time in the penalty box than his 35% ownership would have liked, but Chelsea’s abysmal start to the game in defence did not help him either.
The Blues gifted three goals to West Bromwich Albion inside the first 27 minutes which eased any pressure on the hosts considerably. Each time Chelsea conceded, the Baggies sat deeper and deeper inside their five-man defence and bank of four midfielders, making life much harder for any visiting attacker to find some space.
That said, there was one moment in the first half that Werner and his owners will view with regret. In the 14th minute, Mason Mount (£6.9m) finally managed to find some space around the back of left-back Conor Townsend (£4.5m), squaring to Werner, who crashed his short-range shot against Sam Johnstone‘s (£4.5m) crossbar.
Chelsea’s issues in other areas of the team then counted against Werner in the second half as Cesar Azpilicueta (£5.9m) replaced Marcos Alonso (£6.0m) and winger Callum Hudson-Odoi (£5.8m) came on for Mateo Kovačić (£5.5m).
With Hudson-Odoi on the pitch, who prefers to operate on the left-flank of attacking midfield as an inside forward, Lampard catered that with his formation tweak, shifting Werner onto the right-hand side.
“Callum (Hudson-Odoi) gave me everything I asked and wanted from him in terms of his ability to go one-on-one, trying to take people on. He got his goal. That’s what Callum needs to do. That’s the sort of impact he can have for us and it has to be consistent. He gave himself a great platform now to continue in that vain. He’ll be very important for us if he does.” – Frank Lampard
And when Olivier Giroud (£6.9m) took to the field in the place of Thiago Silva (£5.5m), enabling Lampard to pair the Frenchman with Abraham up-front in a 3-5-2, Werner was even further away from the danger areas.
During the final 15 minutes of the game, the only opportunity Chelsea’s number 11 had was when he emerged unmarked at the back post following a corner, only to see his powerful shot blocked by Kyle Bartley (£4.5m).
Would Chelsea have had to make these slew of changes to their side had they not gone 3-0 down in the opening half-an-hour? Almost certainly not. Would Werner have been better suited to this game had West Bromwich Albion not retreated into a deep block after a perfect start to the game? Almost certainly.
Perhaps that is the question his owners should consider ahead of the visit of Crystal Palace to Stamford Bridge in Gameweek 4. And even if Werner is deployed on the left-hand side of Chelsea’s attack again for that match, the Eagles’ have struggled to defend that area of the pitch in recent months. As Jan Sienkiewicz reminded us in a recent Captain Sensible article, the following left-sided players registered at least one attacking return facing them during Project Restart:
- Sadio Mané (£11.9m) – goal
- Harvey Barnes (£7.0m) – two assists
- Christian Pulisic (£8.3m) – goal
- Daniel Podence (£5.6m) – goal
- Marcus Rashford (£9.5m) – goal and assist
Furthermore, the fitness of Pulisic and Hakim Ziyech (£7.9m) remain in the equation for Werner’s Fantasy appeal. The penetrative runs offered by the American, and Ziyech’s exceptionally creative abilities would have been the perfect tools to break down West Bromwich Albion’s deep block on Saturday, and could be important when facing Palace in Gameweek 4 – something to keep an eye on in Lampard’s upcoming press conferences.
Meanwhile, owners of Kai Havertz (£8.4m) are likely at a crossroads following his contribution to this game. Like Werner, the disastrous start to the game for Chelsea did take its toll, but a chance to operate as a number 10 produced the German’s best performance in a Premier League game so far.
Admittedly, he was making that improvement from a low base, but there were still encouraging signs. The question is: has it come soon enough for his 8.8% ownership to retain their faith for one more week.
In the 10th minute, Havertz picked the ball up on the right-hand edge of the penalty box and unleashed a powerful curling effort. Johnstone could not hold onto it, forced to punch it clear.
Then in the closing stages, the former Bayer Leverkusen man found some space in a central area of the penalty box, but his deflected shot went out for a corner.
And it was his link-up with Hudson-Odoi that got Chelsea closer to their hard-earned point in the 70th minute. That assist was his first attacking return of the season, making four a five-point score. Considering the interest in Blues assets this week, that is certainly less than was probably expected by his owners.
Chelsea’s ongoing defensive issues did not help Reece James‘ (£5.1m) Fantasy appeal, who has now blanked in two of his three Premier League outings this season.
Just as was the case against Brighton in Gameweek 1, the Blues were weakest in the full-back areas, and West Bromwich Albion were ruthless in capitalising on that at the Hawthorns.
In the fourth minute, a poor defensive header from Alonso landed at the feet of Matheus Pereira (£6.0m), who slid his pass across to Callum Robinson (£5.5m), who had escaped from James’ notice. He fired an effort across Willy Caballero (£4.9m) into the bottom corner, securing a third attacking return in as many matches for Pereira.
“I didn’t blame the players, I stated the facts on the clear mistakes that led to the goals. It is always going to be difficult in a game like this. It is not a tactical moment, it is a turnover in possession which we spoke about before.” – Frank Lampard
It may also be a little while until Silva adds much-needed stability to Chelsea’s backline as he slipped and gifted possession to Robinson for the third goal. It was Alonso who lost Bartley for the third goal, although it was poor awareness from James that played the West Bromwich Albion defender onside.
“Thiago Silva is going to be fantastic for us. He has been incredible in his career and absolutely, I will not look at him. I can talk about the mistakes, they are clear and I am open and honest about that. We are a team but we have to react around that and, to be fair, the team did in the second half. But, there is nothing on Thiago, I am sure he will stand up and say it was a mistake. But other than that, I thought he was pretty faultless in the game.” – Frank Lampard
Chelsea were much more secure with Azpilicueta coming on at left-back and they should have Edouard Mendy (£5.0m) in goal by the time they face Crystal Palace. Chelsea traditionally more porous in away games, having conceded 42 goals in 21 road trips since the start of last season, more than any other Premier League side since the start of last season. Although the Eagles might not be the best side to face at home right now, as Roy Hodgson’s men have recently developed a propensity for frustrating top-six sides on their own turf.
Meanwhile, the quality of James’ attacking contributions were not quite up to his usual standard at the Hawthorns.
His best pass arrived at the foot of Abraham in the 11th minute, which the striker skied horribly, but aside from that, James’ delivery was all about quantity and not quality. While he fired in a slew of crosses into the box all night, against a three-man defence, he struggled to find his team-mates too often.
Furthermore, James’ delivery from corners was also rather substandard, Chelsea offering much more in that department once Mount took over responsibility for them. As has been mentioned before, James is likely to lose corners and indirect free-kicks from his locker as soon as Ziyech returns to fitness anyway.
West Bromwich Albion XI (5-4-1): Johnstone; C Townsend, O’Shea, Bartley, Ajayi, Furlong; Diangana (M Phillips 74′), Sawyers, Livermore, M Pereira (Field 90+1′); C Robinson (Robson-Kanu 66′).
Chelsea XI (4-2-3-1): Caballero; Alonso (Azpilicueta 46′), T Silva (Giroud 73′), Christensen, R James; Kovačić (Hudson-Odoi 46′), Kanté; Werner, Havertz, Mount; Abraham.
Lessons Learned from FPL Gameweek 3
- Brighton and Hove Albion 2-3 Manchester United
- Crystal Palace 1-2 Everton
- West Bromwich Albion 3-3 Chelsea
- Burnley 0-1 Southampton
- Sheffield United 0-1 Leeds United
- Tottenham Hotspur 1-1 Newcastle United
- Manchester City 2-5 Leicester City
- West Ham United 4-0 Wolverhampton Wanderers
- Fulham 0-3 Aston Villa
- Liverpool 3-1 Arsenal
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