Kai Havertz made his first full start for Chelsea under Tuchel since the German manager’s opening day stalemate against Wolves back in January. And what a start Havertz made. An ever-present threat who effectively won the match for Chelsea against Everton on Monday night.
He first forced Ben Godfrey in knocking the ball into his own net from close range before winning a second-half penalty that all but sealed the match for the Blues.
Havertz is the kind of versatile player who relishes the challenge of unlocking defenses, making timely runs and operating in foresight. His false nine role in the center of the park against Everton deployed him in a position that Bayer Leverkusen are all too familiar with.
A position that allowed him to excel during his final weeks with the German club, as he knocked in eight goals in eleven games, convincing Roman Abramovich to lure him to London.
Havertz has a knack for drifting into positions that make him hard to mark for oppositions. His line of passing and vertical play define him as a player who devastatingly makes an impact from central areas rather than areas out wide.
Frank Lampard utilized him as a No.8 alongside Kovacic and just behind the main forwards, but being a forward himself, Havertz requires the final-third to make an impact.
Speaking of Havertz’s attacking abilities couple of weeks back, Tuchel praised him. So far as to calling the former Leverkusen forward an ‘unique’ player’ whose positional sense of play baffles him.
“It is not clear to me where he needs to settle down. Does he need to settle in one special position or is he a kind of hybrid player? Today I would say he is in between a No.9 and a No.10,” Tuchel declared.
The match-winning performance by the German playmaker was exactly the kind of showing Chelsea have been dependent upon through Mason Mount, at least since Tuchel took over.
One can only imagine what holds in store if Tuchel decides to play Mount and Havertz in an attacking set-up that brings the best out of a traditional No.9 – say Timo Werner or Tammy Abraham.
Chelsea’s final-third problems has been evident more recently against the likes of Atletico Madrid and Manchester United – teams that play with a conservative defensive mindset. Opening up stubborn defenses in Europe is quite a task at hand and Tuchel might just be in the process of doing so.
Speaking after the Everton match to Chelsea’s official website, Havertz said:
“I played like a false nine, I had the freedom to go everywhere I wanted to go, and I think that’s good for me.”
Freedom. That is exactly what Chelsea need in attack. The freedom to express themselves. With innovative players such as Havertz, Pulisic and Mount, Tuchel need not look further to create goal scoring threats.
Chelsea’s star studded striker options includes Hakim Ziyech, Tammy Abraham, Timo Werner and Olivier Giroud, who have so far been nullified by the lack of creativity in the final-third and tight passing lanes that seem to leave opposition defences unbothered.
“I like to have freedom on the pitch,’ Havertz exclaimed after the Everton victory.”
This freedom certainly looks like it will give opponents the jitters. Kai Havertz has so far appeared 29 times for Chelsea this season, scoring five goals and making eight assists. (transfermarkt)
If he consistently puts in displays like the one against Everton, Chelsea might have their attacking headaches solved, once and for all.
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