As the Premier League gets ready to return this weekend after a brief hiatus, Chelsea will be looking to extend their current six-game winning run in all competitions at home to Brentford on Saturday, having revived their form prior to the international break after a minor wobble at the start of the year.
While hopes of a title triumph have long since been extinguished, the Blues will be looking to consolidate their stranglehold on third spot, with London rivals Arsenal currently just five points behind and breathing down their neck in fourth spot.
Thomas Tuchel’s side will, of course, have bigger fish to fry over the next month or so, with a Champions League quarter-final clash to come with Real Madrid and a Wembley encounter with Crystal Palace in the FA Cup last four, yet this weekend’s visit of the Bees offers the perfect chance to build some real momentum for the run-in.
One man who might well prove a valuable asset this weekend is Timo Werner.
The 26-year-old is coming off the back of another promising week or so with the national team, having scored in the 2-0 Friendly win over Israel – with club colleague Kai Havertz also getting on the scoresheet.
While he has since admitted that he perhaps feels more “comfortable” turning out for Die Mannschaft – for whom he has netted an impressive 22 goals in just 49 appearances – it would still be an opportune time to be thrust back into the action at club level.
It has been a fairly meagre campaign thus far for the former RB Leipzig man, in which he has scored just a solitary Premier League goal, although Saturday’s meeting with Thomas Frank’s side should offer the perfect shot at redemption, particularly with the hosts likely to shuffle their pack ahead of Wednesday’s visit of Madrid.
Tuchel’s men have already come out on top twice in this west London derby this season – once in the Carabao Cup and once in the league – with Werner playing the full 90 minutes in the reverse fixture at the Brentford Community Stadium.
While the £60m-rated striker received a relatively low 6.6 match rating in that narrow victory, as per SofaScore, his ability to exploit the space in behind – which has seen him earn comparisons to Leicester City ace Jamie Vardy from club legend Joe Cole – was evident early on, as he teed up Romelu Lukaku to score on the counter, only for the goal to be disallowed for a tight offside on the Belgian brute.
That meeting was a back’s against the wall performance for the European champions, although on home soil they should well be able to dictate the tempo and create more chances in the final third, with the £53m signing, who teammate Havertz has described as “unpredictable” at times, likely to have the opportunity to get himself on the scoresheet.
A goal would seemingly do him the world of good at present, particularly amid the ongoing speculation over his future, with the £272k-per-week speedster needing to take his chance in order to be in contention for the fixtures to come in this hectic April schedule, having made only 14 league outings to-date.
It may be something of a left-field call, but Tuchel must unleash his fellow German this weekend. It could prove to be a game-changer for the Blues.