EPL

Werner impressed by Premier League intensity, feels 'at home' under Tuchel

By Sports Desk February 22, 2021

Timo Werner has been impressed by the intensity of the Premier League and admits he has felt more "at home" since Thomas Tuchel took charge at Chelsea.

The German forward has endured a mixed start to life in England, suffering a long goal drought before finding the net in last week's 2-0 win over Newcastle United.

It was his first strike in the league since the November 7 win over Sheffield United, having gone 1,000 minutes without scoring despite 31 attempts.

Werner came in for some criticism but tried not to let that bother him as he adapts to the style of play in a new and challenging environment.

"Of course, I noticed that in such a lull you are no longer necessarily called a super striker," he told Kicker. "I just had to let go of all the pressure of having to score goals.

"It's the way in England that you never have a quiet game. You go fourth to last, are 1-0 behind after 15 minutes and they park the bus in front of their goal.

"The players are 1.90 meters tall, brutal physically and really fast – including the defenders. It's impressive what intensity is going on in the Premier League."

Werner has already seen a change of head coach, with club legend Frank Lampard replaced by Tuchel last month.

The arrival of a fellow German at the helm is something that has helped Werner feel more at ease at Stamford Bridge.

"Even though I work a lot on my English, I couldn't always express myself the way I wanted and had to be careful not to be misunderstood," he said.

"Now, of course, that's no longer a problem, you can almost feel a bit at home."

Chelsea sit fifth in the Premier League ahead of Tuesday's trip to Atletico Madrid in the Champions League for the first leg of their last-16 tie.

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    Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel said he is "surprised" at the reaction to Manchester United not being awarded a penalty in Sunday's scoreless Premier League draw.

    United were left aggrieved following the denial of a first-half spot-kick as Chelsea and the visiting Red Devils produced a 0-0 stalemate at Stamford Bridge.

    In the first half, referee Stuart Attwell checked on the pitchside monitor to see if a penalty should have been awarded to United when a bouncing ball struck the raised hand of Callum Hudson-Odoi, who was tussling with Mason Greenwood.

    Attwell stuck with his initial decision not to give the spot-kick and, much to the frustration of United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and full-back Luke Shaw.

    Afterwards, Tuchel – just the second manager to see his side keep a clean sheet in his first four home matches in the Premier League after Brendan Rodgers with Swansea City in 2011-12 – told reporters: "For me it was no penalty. I was surprised and I'm still surprised [at the reaction].

    "I didn't see it live where the penalty should come from, and when we checked on the pictures we have I couldn't see any incident that should qualify as a penalty. Until now I don't know why it should be a penalty."

    It was another 0-0 affair between Chelsea and United – both matches in a league season failing to yield goals for just the second time after 1921-22.

    Chelsea are unbeaten since Tuchel replaced Frank Lampard – the Blues in the midst of a 10-match undefeated streak across all competitions.

    Tuchel's Chelsea are fifth in the Premier League, one point adrift of the top four, six points behind second-placed United and 18 adrift of runaway leaders Manchester City through 26 rounds.

    "It would have been a big result. We tried everything to win, to be prepared for no other intention but to win," Tuchel said. "We are in the middle of a battle to the top four.

    "We have closed the gap quickly and now is the moment to hang in and to show performances every three or four days.

    "I feel the team is very competitive and difficult to play against. We will be able to win games. We are still in the battle and that's the good news."

  • Aguero to be managed closely as Guardiola hails seemingly outgoing Garcia Aguero to be managed closely as Guardiola hails seemingly outgoing Garcia

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    City made it 20 successive wins in all competitions on Saturday, as they edged past West Ham 2-1 in the Premier League thanks to goals from defenders Ruben Dias and John Stones.

    Aguero made just his fourth start of the season in total – and his first since October – with the City great, who is out of contract at the end of 2020-21, having struggled with injuries through the course of the campaign.

    The 32-year-old failed to have an attempt and created just one chance before he was taken off in the 61st minute, having had 32 touches – less than any other outfield player to have started the game for City.

    Guardiola, however, insisted Aguero will need time to pick up his sharpness, though the striker's minutes will have to be managed precisely. 

    "Sergio has been out for more than a year, he played cup games but got injured again, then it was surgery," Guardiola told a news conference.

    "With Sergio, at this part of this season, having that special talent and special quality is going to help.

    "So it's good that he played 60 minutes, that's good for his legs. In the next games, we might need him for 10, 15 minutes or from the beginning. 

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    Guardiola concedes Aguero wants to play more, but reiterated that he has to balance his squad, namechecking Eric Garcia, whose stay at City is set to end at the culmination of the campaign.

    Barcelona have been heavily linked with a move for the 20-year-old, who ended last season as the club's first-choice centre-back alongside Aymeric Laporte.

    Garcia has made just three league appearances this season, and last featured for City in an FA Cup win over Swansea City in early February.

    "There are other players who want to play too, so I know Sergio is so important for us. What he has done for this club – he has scored the most important goal for us," Guardiola continued.

    "We want to help him and see him good but, at the same time, Raheem [Sterling] didn't start, Phil [Foden], Bernardo [Silva] didn't. So I try to handle it so everyone can be involved.

    "You cannot imagine how I feel about Eric Garcia, he's like a son. Last season, during lockdown he was the best defender that we had.

    "He'd never make a mistake like Ruben, John and Aymeric have not this season. He was the reason we qualified for the Champions League, clubs like Bayern and Barcelona wanted him and that's not because he was an average player.

    "In the last two games he was not selected, that's why it's difficult to put all of the players in. Players have to be patient and at the end all you judge is the performance. If the players are performing well they will have more chance to play again."

    Asked if sentiment will come into play with Aguero's game time as his time at City potentially draws to a close, Guardiola replied: "From day one, my message here is what happened before is over – we learn from this and onto the next one.

    "It's not just for Sergio, it's for everyone. I think about who is best in this position, who is in the best condition. If I am fair to one player, I am unfair to another one, that is the difficulty.

    "Now it's for him to prepare if we need him, at the end there will be games that are tough and difficult and we will need a goal! Who is the best guy to do that – it's him.

    "Every player needs time, especially him but everyone needs time. We have trophies to fight for, soon we'll be going to Goodison Park for a quarter-final, the second leg of the Champions League. 

    "Many nice things to fight for and everyone needs to be ready."

  • Liverpool showed quality at Sheffield United but must repeat it against Chelsea, warns Klopp Liverpool showed quality at Sheffield United but must repeat it against Chelsea, warns Klopp

    Jurgen Klopp claimed Liverpool did enough to warrant their win over Sheffield United, but he knows Thursday's clash with Chelsea presents an altogether tougher challenge.

    Liverpool stopped the rot in the Premier League on Sunday, ending a four-match losing streak by clinching a 2-0 win at Bramall Lane.

    Curtis Jones opened the scoring with his second league goal, before Roberto Firmino's wayward effort diverted in off Kean Bryan. That brought up Liverpool's 7,000th top-flight goal - only Everton have scored more.

    Oli McBurnie and Oliver Burke both missed good chances for the home side, who suffered their 21st Premier League defeat of the season, with the Blades the first side since Newport County in the fourth tier in 1970-71 to lose as many as 21 of their first 26 matches in an English Football League season.

    Liverpool's focus now switches to a clash with Thomas Tuchel's Chelsea at Anfield.

    Tuchel succeeded Klopp at Borussia Dortmund before going on to coach Paris Saint-Germain and now the Blues, who drew with Manchester United on Sunday.

    A win would see Liverpool move above Chelsea, though a fifth straight home defeat could see the Reds' Champions League hopes take another blow.

    "Very important. Many people have written us off, that's completely fine," Klopp told Sky Sports.

    "Tonight we showed that we are still there, but on Thursday we play Chelsea and we have to show it again. But with all the problems we have we are still around the exciting places. That's where we want to be, what we will fight for.

    "I have never thought about controlling the situation. We have to win football games and the rest is controlled by itself. It's always like this, there's no way without results to get into the Champions League.

    "It's normal and right that we get criticised, but if it's just about the performance it makes it so tricky. We cannot fight like other teams, sit deep, let them come and hit on the counter-attack.

    "That's not how we can get back on track, we have to keep being dominant and deal with the situation, disappointments and frustration in the games. In other games we might have reacted differently. Tonight we stayed on track and scored in the right moment, it always helps.

    "I think we could have scored three goals in the first half. It just shows what we created was really, really good. The finishing was good enough today, but we know we can improve that."

    Liverpool kept a first Premier League clean sheet since January 17, with Ozan Kabak and Nathaniel Phillips starting together for the first time in defence, in front of Adrian, who stood in for Alisson.

    Kabak led the way for tackles (three) and clearances (four – level with Adrian) in Liverpool's team, though he did still have some shaky moments.

    With Jordan Henderson set to miss a prolonged spell, Klopp is hoping to have Fabinho – himself a makeshift defender – fit to feature against Chelsea, while at the other end of the pitch, Diogo Jota is also set to return, having missed Sunday's match through illness.

    "Probably [Jota and Fabinho] both back for Chelsea," Klopp said.

    "Diogo was with us in the hotel but got sick, so he wasn't with us in the squad. I would think that he is ready for Thursday but I don't know at the moment.

    "Fabinho has had two training sessions with the team, he should be closer, ready for the squad I am sure."

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