Chelsea didn’t just dominate Arsenal, they taught them a lesson. Only one Arsenal player impressed on the day, Emil Smith Rowe, whilst every Chelsea player on the pitch looked phenomenal. Romelu Lukaku has grabbed many of the headlines so far because of his outstanding debut performance, but it was Kai Havertz that maybe would have pipped him to the Man of the Match award had it not been the Belgium’s ‘second debut’.
Kai Havertz: Proving Doubters Wrong
Unbelievable Freedom for Havertz
All eyes were on the return of Romelu Lukaku going into Sunday’s game at the Emirates and rightly so. If you are to pay £97 millio for a striker then he better perform from the get go. And He did.
Lukaku was phenomenal in the match, bullying Pablo Mari in defence and creating chance after chance and nabbing a goal on his return. His goal was fittingly in the 15th minute considering he had played 15 games for Chelsea before the game. Lukaku had eight shots throughout the game and probably should have scored at least two if it wasn’t for the big hand of Bernd Leno.
What was more important, however, was the space that Lukaku endlessly created for his team, and in particular, Chelsea’s young German star, Kai Havertz.
By pinning his defender, Lukaku pushed Arsenal’s whole backline to the edge of their own box, leaving space for Havertz in between Arsenal’s midfield and attack. Havertz then had the ability to move about the pitch with ease, picking up little spots, and linking the play extremely well.
Everyone thought that Werner would be the beneficiary of Lukaku’s arrival, but it looks like it could be Havertz.
The Moments That Made Kai Havertz Stand Out
Kai Havertz has struggled at times at Chelsea as he has been forced to do a variety of jobs. For one, he has had to play in Lukaku’s role many times as Chelsea’s main striker, Timo Werner doesn’t have the physique to be able to match up to defenders in the same way.
That’s not to say that Havertz didn’t do this role successfully, most notably in the Champions League final against Manchester City, where he worked well alongside the movement of Timo Werner to score the winning goal, he had some of his best moments in a Chelsea shirt.
Havertz looked much more comfortable with Lukaku alongside him, however, as he was able to drop into deeper positions and play against Arsenal’s midfield rather than their attackers. Although tall, Havertz doesn’t quite have the strength to take on centre-backs and is much more comfortable against full-backs and midfielders.
The first stand-out moment came as Havertz received the ball in his own half. With no one around him, since Lukaku had taken care of both centre-backs, he had the best route to drive forward, look up and play a phenomenal through ball down the right-hand side to Reece James. Havertz is particularly strong when deep in the pitch as he is great on the ball.
The second moment culminated in Chelsea’s second goal of the game. Havertz was given the ball in a difficult situation by Alonso, but held off his defender to play an excellent reverse pass down the line. As the move continued, the space opened up for Reece James who buried the chance.
Havertz here was given the opportunity to drift wide, where usually he wasn’t able to as he had to allow Werner to be the runner.
What This Means for the Rest of the Season
Chelsea have such a great squad this season that they will regularly be rotating their attacking line-up based on the opposition they are facing. This weekend it looks most likely that Werner will start alongside Lukaku in an attempt to expose Liverpool’s high line as they did last year.
Havertz’ issue this year is that Mason Mount is almost impossible to drop with his form over the last two years. Other players such as Christian Pulisic, Hakim Ziyech and Timo Werner are also in good form, and that means it will be hard to nail down a spot in the starting 11. If the weekend was anything to go by, however, Havertz has the ability to stand out from the pack and dominate the league this year, with the potential to add a league title to last season’s Champions League.
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