Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel saluted two-goal misfit Timo Werner but warned – this is a start, but it‘s up to you to get yourself out of this rut. The Germany striker has had a rotten season, riddled with injuries and loss of form, but his two goals and a sparkling performance at St Mary’s against an admittedly hapless Southampton showed that perhaps the £47.5million striker is beginning to rediscover his touch.
Tuchel’s side bounced back from their awful week, and defeats by Brentford and Real Madrid, with an emphatic performance on the South Coast. But they will rarely meet an opponent as limp as Southampton. And, the Chelsea manager warned, rescuing their Champions League campaign in Madrid on Tuesday night will be an infinitely tougher task.
As for Southampton, where do you start? The two Ukrainians who waved their flag above the Chelsea directors’ box – even though Roman Abramovich, obviously, wasn’t there – showed more fight in five minutes as they were hustled out by stewards than this Saints side.
So yes, Werner, who had not scored in the league since October (against Saints, again) before this, had a good day. But ruthless Tuchel wants more. The German said: “Have I had a talk with him about his form? It would have been a long talk from October until April!
“At some point there are no words. You have to help yourself. You sign for Chelsea, you have to live up to it and accept the pressure that comes with it – and you have to help yourself. You have to be ready when the chance comes, and that is what he did. It will do him good, but it was so necessary. He looked confident.
“There were a lot of things made for his style of play. These are the kind of performances strikers need, and we need from the strikers – it is a give and take. Timo’s attitude is always good – but he still needs to adapt. He used to play regularly, for teams that were built for him. But he needs to adapt, and to the physicality of the league. The process is not finished but it was a step in the right direction.”
Werner, obviously, still managed to hit the woodwork twice and fluff another good chance as well as netting twice. But against this Saints defence your elderly auntie could have grabbed a hat-trick.
The striker hit the post and bar before Chelsea actually scored, in the seventh minute, when Marcos Alonso drilled home. Ten minutes later Ruben Loftus-Cheek pulled the ball back, Saints could not clear, and the excellent Mason Mount fired in. Another four minutes and from a Chelsea break Werner skilfully went the goalkeeper and scored.
By the 31st minute, astonishingly, it was four, as Mohamed Salisu lost the ball to Werner, who hit the post with his shot, but Kai Havertz drilled in the rebound. It was 4-0, and visions of those recent 9-0 thrashings by Leicester and Manchester United were flashing through Saints minds.
In the end, there were only two more in the second half, as Werner tapped in after N’Golo Kante’s shot was saved by Fraser Forster, and then Mount put in a rebound after Christian Pulisic’s shot was stopped. By then St Mary’s was half empty. They’d seen it all before.