A lot of excitement built over the summer due to the arrival of Kai Havertz at Chelsea. It was regarded as the biggest coup of the transfer window, as the Blues signed one of the most talented young players in Europe. In Germany, the belief was that he would leave Bayer Leverkusen to join either Real Madrid or Bayern Munich. However, the current global situation allowed Chelsea to make their most exciting signing since Eden Hazard in 2012.
When the deal was announced, some were concerned about the balance of the Chelsea attack, as Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech had already moved to Stamford Bridge. It would be difficult for Frank Lampard to fit all of his attackers into the same line-up and that has been proven over the first six matches. Havertz has managed to start all six Premier League matches, but there have certainly been adjustment issues as he settles in England.
There was a lot of excitement when he managed to score a hat-trick in the Carabao Cup against Barnsley, but he has followed that up with just a single goal and assist in the Premier League. Although supporters have been able to take some encouragement from his performances, with some flashes of brilliance, it has been a challenging first six weeks for the talented German.
At Leverkusen, the team was built around Havertz and he was integral to the general pattern of play. The German thrived in a false nine role following the restart last season. During his final two seasons with the club, he contributed 29 goals and nine assists. It was obvious that he was best when he was given license to make runs into he penalty box and offer a direct goal threat. Last season, he averaged 2.13 shots and 4.29 shot creating actions per ninety minutes.
It won’t surprise many that both of these have dropped, albeit the sample size in the Premier League is much smaller. The German international is currently averaging 1.16 shots and 3.29 shot creating actions per ninety minutes. Timo Werner has seen similar drops in these stats, which suggests that the Chelsea attack has yet to click into gear. That would be supported by the overall team numbers.
During their first six Premier League matches, Chelsea have averaged 11.67 shots and 1.52 xG (expected goals) per ninety minutes. There has been a sharp decrease from last season, when they averaged 16.29 shots and 1.75 xG per ninety minutes.
The general criticism that Lampard and Chelsea have faced has centred on their defensive frailties. However, the drop-off in attack is a similarly big concern, especially as they invested heavily in these positions.
The reasoning for this drop-off is easily explained, as they have began the season with nearly an entire new attack. There have been teething issues on the pitch, with the team continuing to gel. Hakim Ziyech has yet to come into the starting eleven and he will bring more creativity. Havertz and Pulisic are not creative players, which has led to a reliance on Reece James and Ben Chilwell to provide this on the flanks.
It is too soon to judge Havertz, as he is adjusting to a new league at a young age. However, Lampard needs to take that into consideration as he tries to get the best from the German. He has started all six Premier League games and he may benefit from more rotation at this stage of his Chelsea career, as he adapts. This will be an ongoing process over the next 12 months.
Havertz has done okay so far, but there is a lot more to come from him. The challenge is for Lampard to bring that out sooner rather than later.