Kai Havertz starred as a false-nine during Chelsea’s 2-0 victory over Everton in his best performance for the Blues since arriving for £72m.
Havertz has endured a difficult start to life in West London since his arrival from Bayer Leverkusen. Having suffered from a bout of coronavirus in the winter, Havertz has since been unable to find rhythm in his game.
Thomas Tuchel will hope that Havertz’ fine display against Everton will be a catalyst for the German star to consistently produce the form which commanded such a transfer fee.
Havertz’ reintroduction to the side came in a new role. Tuchel had explained that he saw Havertz as a false-nine in the weeks before and against Everton, this came to fruition. In a fluid front-three with Callum Hudson-Odoi and Timo Werner, Havertz was the central figure and exerted real influence on proceedings.
Two shots, two successful duels, a 95% pass completion rate and two actions leading to goals exemplify how complete Havertz’ performance was. The German showed every facet of his game to trouble Everton at every turn.
Havertz provided an excellent link between defence and attack whilst also occupying Everton’s central defenders. His run in behind which led to Chelsea’s penalty exemplified how he performed like a true #9.
Meanwhile, his 95% pass completion was more like a midfielder. He linked play superbly and consistently brought the likes of Werner and Hudson-Odoi into the game.
A false-nine needs to act as both a penalty box threat and a link between midfield and attack. Havertz’ display here was exactly that.
At Leverkusen, Havertz scored 16 goals in 2019/20, highlighting his ability in the box. With 8 assists in that time, the German star is clearly both scorer and provider. Tuchel looks like he could be the perfect coach to kickstart Havertz’ Chelsea career.
Chelsea and Tuchel are blessed with a plethora of attacking options. Hudson-Odoi was extremely impressive against Everton. He had a major hand in the opening goal with an excellent piece of play from the left, very reminiscent of Eden Hazard.
Timo Werner’s pace and willingness to run in behind was noteworthy. Chelsea’s fluidity in attack was exceptional. This was without Mason Mount, another player excelling under Tuchel.
Mount played a similar role to that of Havertz in the 1-0 victory at Spurs. Frank Lampard was unable to find a system in which Mount and Havertz functioned together. Tuchel will hope and expect to find a solution for two of his young starlets to thrive in tandem.
Havertz’ performance in a false-nine role has given Tuchel another welcome selection dilemma. As Chelsea approach the business end of the season, Tuchel will be delighted that so many of his players are hitting their stride.
With the likes of Christian Pulisic, Tammy Abraham and Olivier Giroud all struggling for minutes, Chelsea’s competition for places in attacking areas is fierce.
At least four of Chelsea’s attackers are contributing positively. Havertz, Hudson-Odoi, Werner and Mount have all been eye-catching in recent performances. With only three attacking spots available in Tuchel’s 3-4-2-1 type system, the Chelsea boss has a few decisions to make.
What cannot be denied, however, is that Kai Havertz has catapulted himself towards the front of the pecking order. There is little doubt that the German is precociously talented. With Hudson-Odoi at wing-back, a front-three of Mount, Werner and Havertz is an exciting blend and should be utilised by Thomas Tuchel away at Leeds.
If Havertz maintains his performance level and builds from the Everton win, he could be about to hit form at exactly the right time. Leeds could be about to run into a storm and Tuchel could continue his fine start.