Kai Havertz sends clear messages to Graham Potter on Chelsea role with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang


There was not too much riding on England’s Nations League clash with Germany on Monday night. The Three Lions had already been relegated following defeat in Italy on Friday evening, while Germany were unable to qualify for the finals. The rivalry between the countries ensured it was never going to be a dull match, though, and it proved that way, especially for Graham Potter .

The new Chelsea head coach will have been watching the match somewhere, that’s for sure – and he would have been delighted with what he witnessed at Wembley. Potter had the chance to see Raheem Sterling, Reece James, Mason Mount and Kai Havertz play, with Ben Chilwell being an unused substitute.

The Germans took the lead on 52 minutes from the penalty spot, with Manchester City midfielder Ilkay Gundogan striking the ball past Nick Pope. Havertz then doubled the visitors’ lead at Wembley with a fantastic left-footed shot from outside of the box that left Pope with no chance. It was set up by his former Chelsea team-mate Timo Werner, but it was all about the brilliance from Havertz.

England then replied with a goal from Luke Shaw, with James the provider. The Chelsea right-back found the Manchester United defender with a fine crossed delivery to the back post. The Three Lions, just minutes later, equalised through Mount. The Chelsea attacker, on the edge of the box, struck the ball first time into the corner after some good work from Arsenal winger Bukayo Saka. It was Mount’s first goal of the season for club or country.

England were then handed a penalty that was dispatched by Harry Kane brilliantly, with many thinking that would be enough for the home side to win the game. However, following an error from Pope in the England goal, Havertz was on hand to tap the ball in instinctively to ensure the points were shared.

So, two goals from Havertz, one from Mount and a fabulous assist from James. Plenty to take out of the match for Potter ahead of this weekend’s trip to Crystal Palace – but he will be particularly pleased with the contribution of Havertz in the match. The 23-year-old hasn’t been at his best for Chelsea so far this season.

In fact, he has just the one goal to his name – the winner in the 2-1 win against West Ham United in what was Chelsea’s most recent Premier League outing – for the Blues. For the majority of the campaign so far, he has been used as the centre-forward but the signing of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang would seemingly change that. Havertz can play, and is perhaps more natural, in one of the roles behind the central striker.

However, in Potter’s first match in charge of Chelsea, Havertz was used up front with Aubameyang in what was essentially a 3-5-2 formation. It’s a formation Potter used on numerous occasions when he was in charge at Brighton and it’s something Chelsea supporters are set to become accustomed to seeing in their new head coach’s tenure in west London.

Potter, though, also used the 3-4-3/3-4-2-1 formation down at the Amex Stadium, something Thomas Tuchel became famous for using when at Chelsea. This means, usually, there are two number 10s behind the central striker. In Germany’s draw with England on Monday, Havertz started the match as the main striker, but in the second-half, Hansi Flick reshuffled his side and the Chelsea attacker dropped deeper.

Havertz was quiet in the first half, but as soon as he dropped back into the number 10 role, he drastically improved. He saw so much more of the ball. Of course Germany performed loads better in the second period than what we saw in the opening 45 minutes, so that would have had its bearing, too, but Havertz grew into the match when in the number 10 role.

Chelsea make the short trip to London rivals Crystal Palace on Saturday afternoon in what will be Potter’s first Premier League match in charge of the Blues. It will now be interesting to see whether England’s 3-3 draw with Germany has any influence on his team selection.

Aubameyang, who retired from international duty with Gabon earlier in the year, has been able to work closely with his new boss over the two- week break. He could indeed start as the number nine against the Eagles, but it’s intriguing to see if Havertz is used alongside the former Arsenal captain or if he is deployed behind him. It could indeed be one of those in-game changes, like we saw Flick do against England on Monday.

Either way, when you look at the first 20 or so minutes against Dinamo Zagreb, where Havertz was also used in the deeper role, and Monday’s Nations League match, the recent signs are pointing towards the German being dropped back behind the striker.

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