Michael Ballack has challenged Kai Havertz to "take on the fight" and make sure his slow start at Chelsea is soon forgotten.

Havertz became Chelsea's most expensive outfield player in September when he joined for around £70million from Bayer Leverkusen, but there has been little return on that investment.

He has appeared in 18 Premier League games, starting 12 times, but has just one goal and two assists to date.

The Germany midfielder has only created one goalscoring opportunity defined by Opta as a 'big chance', and he has been substituted off eight times already.

In 30 Bundesliga games for Leverkusen last term, Havertz scored 12 times, provided six assists and created 15 big chances.

Ballack, who had two spells with Leverkusen and also spent four years at Chelsea, can appreciate the difficulty Havertz has found in adapting to a different league and said the price tag "isn't his fault".

His view is that Chelsea must help Havertz, but that the 21-year-old must also help himself.

"It is important for Chelsea to understand that if you buy a player with that kind of potential, then you have to give him time, bit by bit," Ballack told Stats Perform News.

"So he can be in that role and that the team can be built around him.

"At the moment there are too many players that fight for many positions. There are only a few players that are so to speak 'untouchable'.

"Therefore he now faces a normal competitive scenario. It just depends on him, if he is able to win it.

"He needs that will, but if he sees it and takes on the fight then he will be able to get that spot as he has exceptional football qualities.

"However it is a different level than at Leverkusen. Therefore he has to live with it."

Germany great Ballack, 44, believes the recent arrival of head coach Thomas Tuchel to replace Frank Lampard could help Havertz find his feet in England.

The failure of Havertz and Timo Werner to make an instant impact at Chelsea no doubt contributed to Lampard losing his job, given both were major acquisitions and neither has lived up to expectations.

Ballack says fellow German Tuchel will be able to "communicate exceptionally" with Havertz, pointing to the style of Chelsea's play this season as being a factor in why the once-marauding Bundesliga star has proven less effective in the Premier League.

"At Leverkusen, they forced the game onto him with a lot of freedom. He didn't have to chase the ball and was used to attack," Ballack said.

"He probably has some issues now with the rhythm. That means, the game is a bit different. He now also has to work back and work harder on pressuring the opponent."

Werner, meanwhile, was bought in the expectation he would be a regular goalscorer, yet he last netted in the Premier League on November 7, in a 4-1 win over Sheffield United.

This weekend sees Chelsea play the South Yorkshire side again, and Ballack is sure former RB Leipzig frontman Werner is on the brink of getting it right in front of goal. 

"Timo started off pretty well. Of course, if you aren't scoring as a striker, then it is hard on the self-confidence," Ballack said.

"I believe, that it is very hard for him overall, as he was used to playing differently at Leipzig.

"He had a lot more space in front of him. Chelsea is the kind of team that has a lot of ball possession, wanting to dominate the opponent. Maybe even more so with Tuchel."

As with Havertz, Ballack suggests the onus is on Werner to adapt and find a way to become a greater threat to defences.

"Maybe he has to work on his playing style a little bit or try to get himself into better positions," Ballack said.

"As a striker you are depending on your fellow players to find you and if the [goal drought] breaks, then he will be able to find his old form.

"He used to have good phases with the national team, using his physical presence and power to break down on the wing.

"So when the [drought] breaks, then things will go better again."

Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel believes the Premier League is the perfect place for Kai Havertz to realise his "almost endless" potential.

Havertz, 21, is yet to hit top form for Chelsea after arriving from Bayer Leverkusen for a reported initial fee of £62million in September.

The Germany international starred in the previous two Bundesliga seasons, scoring 29 goals and providing nine assists in 64 games.

Tuchel, who replaced Frank Lampard at the helm of Chelsea earlier this month, praised Havertz for making the move to the Premier League – and he said the playmaker had immense talent.

"His potential is endless, almost endless. It is a challenge for him, and I think he made a very brave choice, you have to understand,” he said.

"I am a huge fan of Bayer Leverkusen in terms of how they have developed as a club over years and years and what players they developed and what quality of football they play.

"But you come from Leverkusen to Chelsea, the culture cannot be any more different. A club where it is OK to maybe be second or third best, to reach the top four and repeat for this on a very high level. Then you go to a club where they talk about trophies and winning titles, it is so open, there is a certain atmosphere like at Bayern Munich they do this every year, they demand titles, titles and more titles and it does something to a club in the atmosphere.

"So that means that Kai has stopped not just to a different country, not only to a different club, not only different team-mates, itself it's already complicated, he even changes his culture and club environment in a dramatic way.

"And I love it because he is so far out of his comfort zone."

In 17 Premier League games this season, Havertz has one goal and two assists for 10th-placed Chelsea.

But Tuchel, whose side host Burnley on Sunday, believes the midfielder is in the perfect league to realise his potential.

"He seems to be like the guy who needs to be pushed and we will not stop doing it," he said.

"For him, this league is perfect because he cannot rest and he has so much potential that he needs to be challenged physically also, that it is not enough that he can rely on his endless talent."

Timo Werner and Kai Havertz have struggled at Chelsea as they have yet to adapt to the different styles in the Premier League, according to Gus Poyet.

The Germany internationals moved to Stamford Bridge before the start of the season as part of a massive squad overhaul costing upwards of £222million.

Neither player has found top form in England, though, as Chelsea's run of two wins in eight league games saw Frank Lampard sacked as head coach and replaced by Thomas Tuchel.

Werner has nine goals and five assists in 28 games in all competitions this season, with only Tammy Abraham (11 goals and four assists) registering more direct goal involvements for the club. However, the former RB Leipzig star has scored just once in his previous 10 appearances, in a 4-0 FA Cup victory over League Two Morecambe.

Havertz, with five goals and five assists, is the only other Chelsea player to have recorded at least 10 goal involvements in 2020-21, but the reported £72m arrival from Bayer Leverkusen has been outshone in midfield this term by Mason Mount.

Former Leverkusen coach Tayfun Korkut told Sky Sports that Havertz "will probably never be the darling of the supporters because he is not someone who fights", although he insisted the 21-year-old should be given time to show his true quality.

Poyet, who spent four successful years at Chelsea, thinks the early "adrenaline" Havertz and Werner had after their transfers has worn off and that the differing approaches by opposition teams in England is posing them problems.

"I think at the beginning [of the season] it was decent [for Chelsea]," he told Stats Perform News. "I think when you have new players, the adrenaline of these players is incredible. They bring something special to the club, but then to maintain that, especially for young players, is very, very difficult.

"So, there is a period of adrenaline, in which you're going to give a lot. There is a period of adaptation and then there is English football, which even if you think that you know, I promise you, you don't until you are on the pitch every weekend, because every game is a different story, every game is a different challenge.

"Today, you play against a team that they're going to keep the ball, and tomorrow you're going to get a team that is going to play long ball and you're going to have to defend 100 balls in the box. And then the next day, somebody's playing on the break, and the next day somebody plays the same system as you, and then you change and they change. Every game is a different challenge.

"I think it's been tough especially for the youngest ones, especially for [Kai] Havertz and [Timo] Werner. Because you know they're playing now in a low moment and, normally it happens unfortunately for us, the decision to bring something different is by changing the manager."

Kai Havertz has all the qualities to be "world class" but was always likely to need time to settle in at Chelsea, according to Bayer Leverkusen's sporting director Simon Rolfes.  

The Blues spent a reported £72million (€80m) to bring the Germany international from Leverkusen in September, yet he has so far struggled to justify the hefty price tag.  

The attacking midfielder was one of several big-money signings during a busy close-reason recruitment drive, with compatriot Timo Werner - who arrived from RB Leipzig - also enduring a difficult start to life at Stamford Bridge. 

Havertz has managed five goals and five assists, as well as 23 chances created (1.4 per 90 minutes) and five big chances created (0.3 per 90) in 25 appearances so far in 2020-21.  

For comparison, during his final season at Leverkusen, he registered 18 goals (0.43 per 90), nine assists (0.21 per 90), 84 chances created (1.99 per 90), 20 big chances created (0.47 per 90) from 45 appearances.  

Chelsea's struggles on the pitch this term saw club legend Frank Lampard sacked and replaced by Thomas Tuchel, and Rolfes feels it is unfair to focus purely on Havertz, who he is backing to show his true abilities in the Premier League.

"It's always difficult if you change country and a little bit of a different style. That's the same if we sign players," Rolfes told Stats Perform News. 

"Some players need two days, some guys need half a year. For example, Moussa Diaby needs three-four months to adapt from France, although he was playing for PSG, to adapt to the Bundesliga.  

"You have to have in mind when you sign players, that not everybody is directly from the first day there.  

"I've followed Chelsea a little bit from a distance, but it's not only Kai or Timo Werner struggling a little bit, it's also the team – they expected more from the whole squad.  

"That's not so easy if it's not working in the team and you come in as a new player. It's much easier if the team is working and you step in your best position.  

"That's a process for Kai, to adapt to England and the Premier League. There is no doubt Kai is a fantastic player and has all the ability to play on the world-class level and although it's probably not his best six months, there is no doubt in my opinion."

"There is a spirit in the team but also the club – a dynamic in the last months and last years. That should lead us one day to a title, that's our big goal."

Bayer Leverkusen are one of Germany's biggest clubs, but not since the 1993 DFB-Pokal have they celebrated silverware.

Leverkusen have come close on numerous occasions in the Bundesliga – runners-up in 1997, 1999, 2000, 20002 and 2011, while they also reached the 2002 Champions League final, succumbing to Zinedine Zidane's iconic volley in Glasgow.

There were also runners-up appearances in the DFB-Pokal – 20002, 2009 and 2020. But an exciting and entertaining Leverkusen, even in the post-Kai Havertz era, are on the right track amid Bayern Munich's domestic and European dominance.

Leverkusen sporting director Simon Rolfes told Stats Perform News: "It's not easy if you're playing with the best team in the world – Bayern – but we have made a step forward and quite close to the top. We want to go forward. If it happens this year, fantastic. But we want to proceed and develop the squad, and mentality."

When star Havertz left for Chelsea at the start of the season in a transfer that could rise to €100million, and Kevin Volland joined Monaco, it left a noticeable hole at BayArena, where the pair scored 30 goals across all competitions in 2019-20.

But led by prodigy Florian Wirtz and a thrilling core of players, including Moussa Diaby, Leon Bailey and Nadiem Amiri, Leverkusen are continuing to challenge this term.

Leverkusen are third in the Bundesliga – three points behind RB Leipzig and 10 adrift of reigning champions Bayern – while Peter Bosz's side are preparing to face Young Boys in the Europa League last 32 and Rot-Weiss Essen in the DFB-Pokal round of 16.

With Havertz having departed, Leverkusen have a better goals/game ratio (2.5) through 26 games across all competitions this season, compared to 1.8 in 2019-20. The club have also improved defensively – goals conceded/game (1.0) and expected goals against (1.0) are better than last term (1.3) and (1.4) respectively.

Collecting 32 points, Leverkusen have played the best first half of a Bundesliga season for seven years – they collected 37 points at this stage in 2013-14.

Leverkusen have also exceeded their xG value of 23.1 to almost nine goals (8.9) – only Bayern have a greater margin between goals and xG (13.9). 

"In general yes because it's a chance for other players to develop and take more responsibility in the team and on the pitch," Rolfes, who was appointed in 2018, said when asked if he was always confident following the exits of Havertz and Volland. "We had the view that there could be other players who could take a step forward. The only thing for sure is Havertz is a world-class player, a fantastic guy and player. It's very difficult to replace him, so we said, it's not our direction to find a replacement for Kai because you will never find that replacement.

"We said okay, we will give our own players the chance to grow, this strategy works out very fast. It's always a risk for sure, but we have the confidence in those players to make a step forward, and also the team. If your superstar is gone, everyone knows we have to give more.

"We try to build-up, play offensive with ball possession, straightforward – the kind of style we showed against Borussia Dortmund [2-1 on January 19] is what we want. We want to have the ball, a lot of clubs and trainers are speaking to play without the ball, in Germany it's very popular, but we want to have the ball and want players who want the ball."

The emergence of teenage sensation Wirtz, and development of Diaby, Bailey, Edmond Tapsoba and Amiri, has further highlighted Leverkusen's successful recruitment and philosophy, which has become synonymous with German clubs.

"You have to have a clear strategy," Rolfes, who made almost 400 appearances for Leverkusen between 2005 and 2015, said. "A clear strategy of recruitment but also your playing style. That's really important for players but also the success of a club – both are strongly connected. For your playing style, you have to sign the right players. Then you have the chance that the players adapt quicker and develop better in your system because they feel comfortable in the way of playing. That's crucial.

"We know the Bundesliga, financially solid, but we are not at the top that we can sign every player, we have to develop players. The strategy is to recruit good players for our style and develop them to the top. Some clubs in Germany are quite successful with this."

"We are focusing on that talent and try to find them," he said. "We analyse millions of data with artificial intelligence, to pre-select and be early. It's not because we know players other clubs do not know, maybe 20 years ago, but everything is transparent. But you have to find them a bit quicker, but also clear in your playing style and what can they develop with your training work, in which areas they can develop in weak points. Because we are not signing players where everything is 100 per cent, we know they have weak points, but we know we have to work with them on that."

Data and AI continue to play a huge role in football, with Rolfes adding: "It's very important and because the data will be better and better, it will become much more important in the future because you will get better results. We are working with our own team on scouting, preparing for next matches – just in our daily work."

The likes of Michael Ballack, Toni Kroos, Bernd Leno and Havertz have all made names for themselves at Leverkusen, and Rolfes continued: "We count on the young players [at Leverkusen]. We give them trust and the opportunity to play. For example, Wirtz, we give him the chance to replace Havertz and not sign another star to put in front of him. That is one thing.

"We have a very professional environment, we really take care of the guys – try to develop them, work on the pitch and prepare them for top football. We have an advantage that the media surrounding is not so big here. That's good for young players to have a familiar environment where they feel very comfortable and less stressful, then try to reach the best level on the pitch."

Wirtz is the heir apparent to Havertz, having made an immediate impact after the 17-year-old swapped Cologne for Leverkusen in 2020.

Having made his debut in May 2020, Wirtz became the youngest goalscorer in Bundesliga history the following month, finding the net in a 4-2 defeat to Bayern after coming on as a substitute. Dortmund's Youssoufa Moukoko has since snatched that record.

Among all players with at least 50 dribbles in this season's Bundesliga, only Augsburg's Daniel Caligiuri has a better dribbles success rate (70 per cent) than Wirtz (65 per cent). 

Wirtz is one of 50 players born in 2003 or earlier to appear in Europe's top five leagues this season. Those 50 players have collected a total of 14 goal involvements – with seven of them coming from Wirtz. 

Among all players in Europe's top five leagues born in 2003 or earlier, Wirtz played the most minutes in all competitions this season (1,579) and had the most goal involvements in all comps (11 – six goals and five assists). 

"I saw him for the first time at 13. Now I have to say, he is playing Bundesliga the same way he was playing at 13, 14, 15, 16 – I followed him all the years. I always said okay, that's the player for us, the player for Leverkusen. That was not a surprise for me when he came to us and adapted very quick to our style," former Germany international Rolfes said.

"It was also one argument I said to him during the transfer. I said, 'you are a player for us, you will develop your skills and strengths much better because that's what we need in our style'. His development is fantastic."

Like Havertz, Bailey could be the next Leverkusen star to leave amid constant speculation over his future.

The 23-year-old winger, who has scored four goals and supplied five assists in the 2020-21 Bundesliga so far, has been linked with the likes of Manchester United and Manchester City and Rolfes is unwilling to sell the Jamaican to just any club.

"He's played a fantastic season," Rolfes said. "He struggled a bit last season, but he is performing at a very high level. A good guy in the squad. He has a chance to score goals for sure. A fantastic technique. That's part of lives also, to sell players but we want to sell to the top eight clubs in the world, but not to other clubs. Sometimes a player will leave us. We have a contract with Bailey but we are quite relaxed."

Diaby is another prime example for Leverkusen, where the accelerating Frenchman has 561 sprints in the league this season, more than any other player. 

The former Paris Saint-Germain speedster has been involved in 15 goals in all competitions in this season (in 26 games) – with his next goal involvement the 21-year-old would already reach his value from his first season in Leverkusen (16 in 39 games). 

"When we extended the contract until 2025, that was a really nice Christmas present to extend the contracts of Diaby, Tapsoba and Wirtz," Rolfes said. "[Diaby] is a key player of our squad. His acceleration and speed is outstanding. He has developed on scoring and assisting. To use his acceleration on a top, top level. He has potential to develop further. I'm very, very happy he is part of our squad."

Meanwhile, Timothy Fosu-Mensah could be the latest success story for Leverkusen, who also completed the signing of Netherlands Under-20 international Jeremie Frimpong from Celtic on Wednesday.

After joining Manchester United's academy in 2014, the 23-year-old called time on his Old Trafford stay in January, and Rolfes said: "He is not so young but the last two years, you had the feeling there was more in the box than there was in the last two years. That's interesting for us, to sign that kind of player where you have the feeling they can reach more. We want to help him.

"Timothy is a really good guy, ambitious guy. I like this. He has the ability, the physicality, very fast, a good technique. A lot of fundamental things that are important for our playing style. Then if the mentality and ambition isn't right, then let's work on that to develop you. I'm convinced Timothy can be the next example for our club."

Thomas Tuchel's appointment as the new Chelsea head coach was confirmed on Tuesday - and the new man does not have a lot of time to get settled.

Frank Lampard was sacked on Monday, with Tuchel's widely anticipated arrival promptly following.

The former Paris Saint-Germain coach took charge of training on his first day and will be thrust straight into the spotlight when Chelsea host Wolves on Wednesday.

The Blues entered the latest round of Premier League fixtures sitting ninth in the table and Tuchel will be looking for an immediate impact.

But there are long-term tasks to complete, too, if the German is to stay at Stamford Bridge beyond the end of his initial contract, which runs to 2022.
 

HELP WERNER AND HAVERTZ

Having worked with the likes of Kylian Mbappe and Neymar during his time at PSG, Tuchel knows all about the challenges of motivating some of the world's top talents.

At Chelsea, that will mean eliciting an improvement in the performance of his much-criticised compatriots Timo Werner and Kai Havertz.

Werner, for whom Chelsea paid RB Leipzig close to £50million, scored 28 Bundesliga goals in 34 appearances last season but has mustered just four in 19 in the Premier League, the most recent of which came on November 7.

Meanwhile, Havertz arrived from Bayer Leverkusen with a price tag in the region of £70million and a reputation as one of Europe's most creative young stars but has one goal, two assists and just 11 key passes to date.

Tuchel will be asked to get more from the Germany pair to boost a Chelsea team who have scored only four goals in their past five league outings.
 

KEEP ACADEMY ACES INVOLVED

Hindered by a transfer ban in his first season in charge, Lampard at least made use of Chelsea's impressive academy to bring a number of young talents into the team.

Perhaps most exciting among those were Mason Mount and Billy Gilmour.

Both Mount, 22, and Gilmour, 19, started Lampard's final game in charge against Luton Town and formed a creative double-pivot in an attack-minded side, earning praise from the coach for their discipline and movement.

Mount will surely feature in Tuchel's immediate plans, but Chelsea will hope both the England midfielder and team-mate Gilmour can continue to develop over the coming years.
 

SETTLE ON HIS BEST SIDE

Between the big spending ahead of this season and the promotion of a number of academy talents, Lampard was certainly not short of options. But that might have been to his detriment.

Looking to pack an array of star names into a first XI, the team too often lacked balance.

Juggling club captain Cesar Azpilicueta and Reece James proved tricky, while Thiago Silva and Kurt Zouma - seemingly Lampard's preferred centre-back pairing - have started together in only 14 of the 29 games so far this season in all competitions.

There has been concern regarding the form of N'Golo Kante, perhaps played out of position, while Lampard struggled to work out the best fit up front in his 4-3-3.

Tuchel must be more decisive.
 

EFFECTIVELY MANAGE UPWARDS

An increasingly strained relationship with director Marina Granovskaia reportedly contributed to Lampard's demise, so keeping the Chelsea board onside will be crucial for Tuchel.

Dealings with the top brass at PSG in his previous job were not always straightforward for Tuchel and may have been a factor behind his departure from Paris, which came despite impressive results across recent seasons.

Criticism of PSG's transfer business did not go down well with sporting director Leonardo, who fired back at the coach, telling him he "must decide to respect the choices of the sports management".

Tuchel could hardly complain about the level of investment at Stamford Bridge over the past year, so similar comments towards Chelsea power-brokers would be unlikely to go down well.

It did not take long for Chelsea to run out of patience with Frank Lampard following significant investment in their first-team squad during the close season.

Chelsea spent in excess of £200million on reinforcements for the 2020-21 campaign but with the club ninth in the Premier League and 11 points off top at the midway point, they dispensed with the services of their head coach on Monday.

Lampard arrived just 18 months ago with the club under a transfer embargo and was lauded for his faith in youth during a debut campaign that yielded a top-four finish and an FA Cup final appearance.

However, Chelsea have not managed to maintain an upward trajectory this season and after a run of two wins in eight Premier League games the decision was taken to cut ties with the club legend.

It is fair to say some of Chelsea's new arrivals have not lived up to expectations this term and we look at the numbers behind their performances.

Timo Werner – £45m from RB Leipzig

Werner arrived from Leipzig with big expectations having been involved in 36 league goals (26 scored, eight assisted) in 2019-20 – a tally only bettered by Robert Lewandowski (38), Ciro Immobile (45) and Lionel Messi (46).

He did not take long to find his stride, having a hand in 11 goals (eight scored, three assisted) in a 10-game stretch in all competitions between September and November.

However, the only goal he has scored in 15 appearances since the end of that streak came against Morecambe in the FA Cup third round – it ended an 827-minute drought in all competitions.

He is without a goal in 11 Premier League outings and his difficulties in front were compounded by his failure to convert from the penalty spot against Luton Town on Sunday.

 

Kai Havertz – £71m from Bayer Leverkusen

Alongside Werner (14) and Tammy Abraham (15), Havertz (10) is one of just three Chelsea players to have been involved in at least 10 goals in all competitions this season.

However, half of those have come against lower-league opposition – he scored the first hat-trick of his senior career against Barnsley in the EFL Cup in September, and versus Morecambe in the FA Cup this month had a goal and an assist.

When looking at his figures from the Premier League, he has just one goal and one assist in 16 appearances – 11 of which have come from the start.

Lampard seemed to struggle to figure out how to get the best out of versatile forward Havertz and given his price tag that will be high on the agenda for his replacement.

Ben Chilwell - £45m from Leicester City

A plantar fascia injury delayed Chilwell's Chelsea debut but he was quick to make an impact, becoming just the third Blues player to both score and assist on their Premier League debut, joining Deco and Alvaro Morata.

Within 13 games he had already matched his career best of four Premier League assists in a single season, while his six goal involvements in that time frame was the same as he managed across the entirety of 2019-20 for Leicester.

Crosses from the full-backs were a key part of Lampard's approach and Chilwell's 82 in open play is second to Reece James' 97.

But while 24.7 per cent of James' deliveries were accurate, only 13.4 of Chilwell's were - the third-worst rate of any Blues player to find a team-mate with at least one cross in open play.

Hakim Ziyech – £33.3m from Ajax

An assist for Werner in a pre-season friendly against Brighton provided promising signs, but a knee injury meant his competitive debut did not arrive until October.

He has registered two goals and four assists in 17 appearances in all competitions, but only Mason Mount (2.5) has created more chances per 90 minutes than Ziyech (2.4) this season (all comps).

Furthermore, he creates 0.8 Opta-defined 'big chances' per 90 minutes, which is the most of any Chelsea player to have featured in more than two games.

His expected assists in open play per 90 minutes of 0.21 ranks joint-seventh alongside Kevin De Bruyne (among players to have played at least 450 minutes), so with some better finishing his impact may look more impressive on paper.

 

Edouard Mendy – £22m from Rennes

After Kepa Arrizabalaga committed three errors leading to goals in as many Premier League appearances to start the season, bringing in Mendy from Rennes appeared an astute decision.

He kept nine clean sheets in his first 12 appearances in all competitions, but in his subsequent nine outings he has shut out the opposition just twice and conceded 13 goals.

In the Premier League, Mendy has let in 12 goals from an expected goals on target (xGOT) of 10.8, meaning he has let in one more goal than would have been anticipated from the chances he has faced.

That is the joint-eighth worst in the league among keepers to have played over 900 minutes.

 

Thiago Silva – free transfer

Although he became the first outfield player to make an error leading to a goal on their Premier League debut in two years when his loose control was seized upon by Callum Robinson in a 3-3 draw with West Brom in September, Silva's experience seemed to significantly improve Chelsea's defence.

Only Kurt Zouma (64.6 per cent) has a better duel success rate than Silva's 63.5 among players to have played at least 10 games in all competitions, and he has helped them tighten up when defending set-pieces.

Excluding goals scored directly from free-kicks, Chelsea conceded 13 times from set-pieces in the Premier League in 2019-20, while this term they have only shipped five from dead balls and one of those came when Silva was not in the side.

The Brazilian has also made them more of a threat from set-plays, providing two of the nine goals Chelsea have scored in such situations.

Chelsea boss Frank Lampard hopes Kai Havertz and Timo Werner will gain confidence from scoring in the FA Cup win over Morecambe.

Werner ended a goal drought of 827 minutes with the home side's second in a 4-0 triumph at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, Mason Mount having opened the scoring.

Havertz was involved in his fellow German's goal just before the break and went on to find the net himself against fourth-tier opposition, heading in a cross from Cesar Azpilicueta in the 85th minute.

The duo were part of a strong team selected by Lampard, who believes the big-money signings from the Bundesliga made a "nice little step" forward as they continue to adapt to life at Chelsea.

Discussing Werner, who had not scored for his club since a 4-1 win over Sheffield United on November 7, Lampard said: "I'm pleased for him.

"Strikers want to score goals and he's had plenty of near misses in those times. He's been getting in positions to score goals but they haven't been going in for him.

"I was pleased to play him today and get him confidence from scoring a goal. It wasn't easy, there wasn't space behind them because they defended so deep, but he gets his goal and moves onwards.

"It's important that we understand with both Timo and Kai that they are young lads coming into this league. Tough patches are normal coming into the Premier League - some of the greatest players that have graced it have found that at the beginning.

"That is a nice little step for both of them."

While Werner made way for Olivier Giroud in the 68th minute, Havertz played the full game, during which he completed 89 per cent of his attempted passes.

The former Bayer Leverkusen player also had two shots as he continues to build up his fitness after overcoming COVID-19, with Lampard insisting Chelsea fans must show some patience with the 21-year-old.

"There are numerous levels Kai can go up because of the potential of him as a player," Lampard told the media.

"Even in his short period at Chelsea he's been unfortunate in that he had COVID and suffered a bit in coming back from that.

"Today I saw him - and during the week in training too - looking stronger and fitter. There are levels to go up, but - again - we have to remain patient.

"He's come here with a huge amount of talent but has to get accustomed to the league, accustomed to the speed of the league, the pace of the league. We as a club must support him through that for the future, both him and Timo.

"It was a small step in a big picture, but a step made in a good way for both of them."

The victory means Chelsea have progressed in their third-round tie in every season since 1997-98, when they were eliminated by Manchester United.

Chelsea eased into the fourth round of the FA Cup with a 4-0 win over Morecambe on Sunday to end a three-match run without a victory.

Perhaps in a sign of the growing pressure on his position after a run of one win in seven games in all competitions, Frank Lampard named a very strong team for the visit of the League Two side to Stamford Bridge.

Mason Mount's fine strike on the midfielder's 22nd birthday opened the scoring before Timo Werner ended a goal drought of 827 minutes shortly before half-time.

Callum Hudson-Odoi got his side's third and only goalkeeper Mark Halstead denied the Blues further goals until Kai Havertz powered in a late header.

Morecambe almost snatched a shock lead with 11 minutes played, Kepa Arrizabalaga - on his 100th Chelsea appearance - doing well to stop Adam Phillips' drilled cross from going over the line.

Chelsea's breakthrough came with 18 minutes gone, Mount given time to pick his spot from 20 yards out, leaving goalkeeper Halstead with little chance.

Werner had missed an early header but could not pass up the chance to make it 2-0 just before half-time, the forward prodding into an empty net after Havertz headed back across goal.

Any lingering doubts about the result were removed four minutes after the restart, Hakim Ziyech's pass beating the offside trap and allowing Hudson-Odoi to power a shot through Halstead.

Havertz should have made it 4-0 only for Halstead to block at the near post and the keeper made a second fine stop to deny Christian Pulisic on the rebound, the keeper's best moment of a good display.

He could do nothing to prevent Haverz from finding the back of the net five minutes from time, though, the midfielder meeting Cesar Azpilicueta's deep cross with a thumping header.
 

What does it mean? Light relief for Lampard ahead of testing run

It would have been an almighty shock had Morecambe become the first team since Manchester United in 1997-98 to knock Chelsea out of the competition in the third round.

Lampard took no chances, fielding a formidable line-up against a fourth-tier side who had to isolate for 10 days after a coronavirus outbreak in late December.

The Blues sealed a comfortable win that will have lifted spirits ahead of a run of five league games that includes visits to Fulham, Leicester City and Tottenham.

Ziyech enjoys roaming role

His shooting was a little wayward but Ziyech was certainly precise with his passing, albeit against modest opposition who only returned to training this week.

He made more passes in the Morecambe half (56) and created more chances (four) than any other Chelsea player in his 67 minutes on the pitch.

Can Werner kick on?

It will have been a relief for Werner to score his first goal since November, but there was still a feeling of disconnect between the striker and his supporting cast and he only completed one more pass (14) than goalkeeper Kepa.

Lampard will have hoped to give the £47.5million man a confidence boost. Time will tell if it worked.

What's next?

Chelsea return to league duties at Fulham next Friday in a west London derby, with the game at Leicester to follow on January 19.

Kai Havertz was dubbed the 'Crown Prince of German football' while at Bayer Leverkusen but the Bundesliga club have a new star now: Florian Wirtz.  

While his former club colleague has struggled so far to make an impact at Chelsea, Wirtz - the latest young gem to come through at Leverkusen - is dazzling for Peter Bosz's team, who remain ensconced in the top four despite defeats either side of the mid-season break in Germany's top flight. 

The 17-year-old did not wait long to suggest he could be the heir apparent, either. Having made his debut in May 2020, he became the youngest goalscorer in Bundesliga history the following month, finding the net in a 4-2 defeat to Bayern Munich after coming on as a substitute. Youssoufa Moukoko has since snatched that record away.

This season, Wirtz has gone from the periphery to centre stage, scoring twice and providing four assists in 13 appearances. His transition from promising talent to first-team regular has been swift, leading to comparisons to Havertz, the playmaker who swapped the BayArena for Stamford Bridge.

However, for Bosz, while both players have huge potential, the duo differ in so many ways.

"I never compare players with each other because that is impossible. There is no player like the other," Bosz told Stats Perform News. "You can't compare them. That's not possible.

"I also won't do that with Florian Wirtz, because he has his own style. He is different from Kai Havertz, who is more of a striker. Florian Wirtz, as far as I am concerned, is a midfielder, so you can't compare them.

"Also, you can't compare them physically; Kai is 1.92metres (6ft 3in), Florian is shorter. One is left-footed, the other one right-footed. They both have their own style. But both of them are very good. Both are very talented. Both have a huge career ahead of them.

"And Florian is only 17 years old. What he has shown though in the Bundesliga already is something special."

Wirtz has been a part of a Leverkusen squad that has impressed so far in this campaign, both at home and abroad. 

Despite a first defeat to Bayern Munich before the mid-season pause in Germany, Leverkusen gathered 28 points from their opening 13 league games. Only three times have they managed to collect more points across the same period - and on each of those occasions they went on to finish in the top four.

In the Europa League, Die Werkself finished top of Group C to qualify for the last 32 in style, winning five of their six round-robin fixtures. Having reached the quarter-final stage of the competition last year, when they lost 2-1 to Inter, hopes are high they can go further this time around. 

But while there has been much to please Bosz and Leverkusen's supporters so far, the Dutch coach insists there is still plenty more to come from his squad.

"Everyone still has some space to improve," he said, insisting no player has reached a nine out of 10 yet. "The difference to last year is that we are very consistent now.

"We deliver stable performances. It means that we concede less goals. We stand more compact on the pitch.  

"But we have also lost important players. Kai Havertz went to Chelsea, Kevin Volland to Monaco. I think that our team spirit has improved. This is the biggest step ahead." 

Despite Havertz no longer being around, Leverkusen have been excellent going forward, with champions Bayern the only team to score more in the Bundesliga so far. Their attacking intent has not come at a considerable cost defensively either - only second-placed RB Leipzig have conceded fewer goals.

The emergence of Wirtz has been one of the factors in helping Leverkusen continue to progress as a club, even with those key departures in the previous transfer window.

 

"He's a very talented young player. He has a lot more to improve. But, you know, he's only 17," Leverkusen winger Leon Bailey told Stats Perform News about his talented young team-mate.

"He's still learning. But he has a lot of qualities that a lot of older players don't have yet. And that's something you can see clearly, and this is something that's special. 

"And I think, as the years go by, he will only get better. There is a lot more to come from him, as he understands more and get a lot more experience.  

"I would say he's very smart. He has a lot of quality when he's on the ball. And he has a great passing ability."

Bailey's assessment is backed up by Wirtz's output, with no Leverkusen player having created more chances from open play than his tally of 23. While his passing accuracy is perhaps lower than might be hoped for at 73 per cent, his touches in the opposing box (31) and passes into the final third (55) are examples of his forward thinking when in possession. 

Those risks have reaped their rewards this term too, considering his six goal contributions so far. Bosz clearly has faith in him, as only goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky and Moussa Diaby have played more minutes in the Bundesliga so far. 

Any suggestion of becoming the new Havertz may be wide of the mark, but the future looks bright for Wirtz, the latest jewel to emerge at Leverkusen. 

Ilkay Gundogan suggests it is "quite normal" for Timo Werner and Kai Havertz to be struggling at Chelsea after moving to the Premier League amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Werner and Havertz were high-profile recruits from the Bundesliga prior to the 2020-21 season as Chelsea looked to turn a team that scraped Champions League football into genuine title contenders.

Other signings, such as Edouard Mendy, Thiago Silva and Ben Chilwell, have quickly had an impact, but the Germany internationals have found life a little more difficult.

Werner did not score in his first three Blues appearances in all competitions but then netted eight times in nine games, before enduring an 11-match goalless run that takes him up to Sunday's meeting with Manchester City.

The former RB Leipzig forward, who has netted with just 10.3 per cent of his 39 Premier League shots, missing eight big chances, lost his place for the first time for the draw with Aston Villa last time out, albeit Chelsea had played Arsenal just two days earlier.

Werner - involved in eight league goals - has still fared better than Havertz, who has had an underwhelming eight attempts and created 10 chances across 14 games, scoring one and assisting another.

The misfiring pair will meet international colleague Gundogan on Sunday in a crunch clash in the top half of the Premier League.

The City midfielder expects the pair to come good, though, pointing to the difficulty of relocating to a new country under the strange conditions of a global health crisis.

"They have two new German players who have tried to adapt as well as possible," Gundogan told Sky Sports.

"In general, I think it's not easy to adapt quickly to the Premier League when you come from a different country, and now with the situation going on, I think it's just even harder.

"So I think it's quite normal that they are struggling a little bit, but they both have incredible talent and I'm sure they will both be able to prove it in this league."

Chelsea, in sixth, and eighth-placed City are level on points ahead of the game at Stamford Bridge, seven points adrift of co-leaders Liverpool and Manchester United.

Frank Lampard's side have won just one of their past five league matches to quell title talk, but Gundogan is still wary of the threat of opponents who have won their past two home games against City.

"Like every year, Chelsea have a great squad with incredible players," Gundogan said.

"They are a great team and they have a really ambitious manager so I feel like they will really challenge us - not just this weekend but also generally in the league.

"They got some really talented, young recruits in the summer, spent a lot of money and got some really good players, so I think they will do well.

"They've done well; of course, they are also a team that struggles like everyone does, but they have a lot of quality and it's going to be a great game."

Frank Lampard says some context is needed over Kai Havertz's early struggles at Chelsea as he backed the attacking midfielder to show his "undoubted talent" once he fully settles.

The Germany international has struggled to transfer the form he showed at Bayer Leverkusen since joining Chelsea in a reported £72million (€80m) deal in September.

Havertz has just one goal and one assist in 14 Premier League appearances and has been named among the substitutes for the Blues' last three outings.

However, Lampard insists the 21-year-old is still finding his feet after moving to a new country, a period of adaption not helped after being laid low by coronavirus earlier in the season.

"Just as Kai was just coming to terms with the Premier League and he had some really good performances with us he got COVID and he had it quite severely as I think people are really starting to open up about now," Lampard said.

"I have read a few things recently about how much people can suffer with it now. Some people are asymptomatic.

"He definitely has had a bit of a fallout with that physically and I speak with him a lot and we know that. It is something we are trying to help him to deal with.

"The expectation around him, you have to put context into the story. Kai's talent is undoubted. I see that every day. Giving him the time to adapt to the Premier League and to our team is crucial.

"We have seen players come here in the past, didn't really adapt, went elsewhere and come back to the Premier League and absolutely lit it up to unbelievable levels.

"I am not trying to compare Kai directly with that but there are so many stories across the Premier League, not just Chelsea.

"I have full belief in him. We need to give him that time, particularly because of the COVID situation, that is a problem. That is not a non-issue - it is an issue that is related beyond his illness."

Havertz has created 10 chances in his 14 top-flight appearances this term at a rate of 1.1 every 90 minutes, placing him behind fellow attackers Mason Mount (2.4), Callum Hudson-Odoi (2.7) and Hakim Ziyech (2.8).

He averages just 0.9 shots per 90 minutes, meanwhile, which is 14th on the list of Chelsea players, behind even holding midfielder Jorginho (1.1) and full-back Reece James (1.3).

That is in stark contrast to his impressive figures in the Bundesliga when scoring a record-breaking 17 goals - the most in a single season for a teenager - in 2018-19 and following that up with 12 more last term, on top of six assists.

And Lampard is aware of the demands that come with making a high-profile move, having taken time to get going at Chelsea following an £11m switch from rivals West Ham in the early part of his playing career.

"Transferring leagues to a game that is fast and physical week in, week out, every three days is a big ask and not something that should be expected just because we paid this amount for you or you are an international or your age or how many goals and assists you made," he said.

"You can't take anything as a given in that sense. I thought that with Kai anyway and I was there to help him, I am there to help him when he came. I was excited to take on that challenge with him of how this league is going to be different.

"Let's see how you can adapt because your talents are going to be different in a really positive way and help us. The one thing I certainly know as a coach is that I can rely on is my personal experience when it mirrors up slightly.

"I know I had to do extra work myself. Kai is different to me. Particularly with the knockback of COVID. Now we have to give him time to do the extra work now and it will make him stronger in the end. And remember, he is a young player and he needs time."

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