On the eve of the first Premier League weekend of the season, Timo Werner had been drafted in to many Fantasy Football teams as fans looked forward to seeing the German in a Chelsea shirt.
Indeed, many stakes were placed on Werner being top scorer this year at his initial price of 15/2, but his current odds of 50/1 are a reflection of how those particular bets are going.
With just four goals in 17 league outings, it’s fair to say the 24-year-old has been disappointing in the Premier League, although his record of five goals in eight games across the three cup competitions offers a glimpse of what he is capable of.
Werner ended a 12-game goal drought in Chelsea’s 4-0 FA Cup win over Morecambe on Sunday, and although the League 2 side were no match for the Blues it came as a welcome relief for the striker and his manager Frank Lampard.
However, legendary Chelsea centre-half Frank Leboeuf recently said Werner was “struggling against big defenders” in English football and backed his compatriot Olivier Giroud to be Lampard’s first-choice number nine instead.
Meanwhile, Tore Andre Flo – Leboeuf’s former team-mate at Stamford Bridge – is a bigger fan of Lampard’s other main option up front Tammy Abraham, who has scored six goals in 14 league appearances with a strike-rate of one goal every 130 minutes so far this term.
“I think he’s a very good player, I’ve known him for a long time having worked with him at the academy when he was younger,” former striker Flo told bookmakers.co.uk.
“He’s got great potential and I think he’s done well to compete amongst these superstars that Chelsea have bought.
“He can be pleased with how he’s doing when he gets minutes on the pitch and he’s proven that he can score goals, so he’s a valuable player in the Chelsea squad and, given he’s only 23, I think we’ll see more of him in the future.”
Can Two Strikers Play a 4-3-3?
That said, the Norwegian still has high hopes that Werner will find his feet and suggests Lampard's favoured 4-3-3 formation can still get the best out of the German and indeed Abraham.
“I think they can work together,” he said. “I don’t think they’ve quite found the right rhythm to maximise a partnership just yet, but I think they can do – there’s more to come.
“As a striker you need goals and finally Werner found the net again and hopefully that can instil confidence and he’ll continue to score. He’s more than capable of doing well in the league, it’s just about getting a few goals and getting that confidence up.”
Meanwhile, rumours continue to link Giroud with a move away as he seeks guaranteed first-team football ahead of the European Championships this summer and, in turn, Chelsea are being linked with potential replacements.
“There are a lot of rumours and it’s hard to comment on them until they become more than just rumours,” said Flo. “But a club like Chelsea will always look to be in the market for a striker.”
Having spent lavishly in the summer, it is not yet known if Lampard will be given the green light to make significant signings in the current window, particularly as the former Blues midfielder is feeling the heat on the back of poor league form.
Lampard Under Pressure
Chelsea languish 9th in the Premier League table after a run of just one win and four defeats in their last six league games, with Lampard currently second favourite (3/1) in the sack race betting behind Chris Wilder, while Thomas Tuchel has been tipped as a potential replacement.
Flo is fully behind the club legend though and hopes Lampard will be given enough time to turn things around.
“I definitely think that he is the right manager,” he said. “Yes, the results have probably not been as good as we would have liked lately, it’s been up and down, but it’s such a strange season – we’ve seen many clubs doing really well and then suddenly fall, and vice versa.
“Chelsea are no different and I really hope that Frank gets the whole season to prove himself and stay on to build what I think can be a very good team.”
Some 10 points off the top, Chelsea are 66/1 outsiders in the Premier League title race, although there’s still a long way to go. Not one to be disheartened, Flo is looking forward to the return of the Champions League and would settle for a top four finish in the league.
“I think the aim should be to get a Champions League place for next season, so a top four finish would be a success,” he said.
“It looks unlikely that Chelsea will win the league, unless they go on a really good run and others stumble, so I think realistically another top four finish would be a good result.
“They could also go far in the Champions League as well which would be really important for the club and also for the fans. A run in Europe could really show that the club is on its way back to former glories.”