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Timo Werner joins Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino in underperforming in attack



Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool dodged Timo Werner transfer mistake as Chelsea handed familiar issue

Timo Werner’s finishing has been placed under the spotlight this season after a difficult first campaign at Chelsea since moving to the Blues from RB Leipzig last summer

Liverpool’s interest in Timo Werner last summer was no secret; Jurgen Klopp had clearly developed some form of relationship with the player, and his impending move to Merseyside was very public.

The global pandemic which started around that period forced the transfer into doubt, with Chelsea eventually taking advantage by paying much of the German’s transfer fee up front to RB Leipzig.

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Liverpool consequently moved for Diogo Jota, who has experienced an encouraging first campaign at Anfield, but it is interesting how Werner has since suffered from a problem at Stamford Bridge that is shared by many of Klopp’s forwards.

Sadio Mane ranks sixth in the Premier League at present for total shots having attempted to score 83 times, followed by Roberto Firmino in eighth and Werner in 11th; each player has been heavily involved with concluding the moves constructed by their teammates.

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However, all three have encountered major problems when it comes to converting those efforts into goals by actually finding the back of the net.

Werner was criticised on Tuesday night for failing to score against Real Madrid from close range, and just days earlier, Firmino and Mane failed to find the net against Newcastle United, resulting in a 1-1 draw for the Reds.

The extent of their finishing problems can be captured using Expected Goals.

The metric can offer an insight into finishing by placing a value on shots based on how likely they are to be scored according to historical data; the value is determined by a number of factors including shot location, body part used to take the shot and the position of the goalkeeper amongst other aspects.

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A penalty kick is typically awarded 0.76 xG – for example – because penalties are scored around 76% of the time.

According to Expected Goals, Werner has been presented with shots worth roughly 10.7 non-penalty goals in the Premier League this season, but he’s bagged just six times which highlights an underperformance of 4.7 goals.

The finishing over and under-performance of Premier League players this season is pictured below, with Werner, Mane and Firmino placed at the very bottom.

Premier League players ranked according to finishing performance above and below Expected Goals this season (Image: @DistanceCovered)
The high-quality version of the above graphic can be viewed here.

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Kai Havertz has also underperformed his Expected Goals for the Blues this season following his move from Bayer Leverkusen, but by 2.2 goals, which is less than half the amount of Werner.

Werner, Firmino and Mane should all recover and return to a normal finishing levels sooner rather than later as the skill generally tends to fluctuate from time to time, but right now, the three forwards are very much together with their misfortune.

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Werner actually overperformed with his finishing in the Bundesliga last season – by around 4.8 goals – which captures why his conversion struggles should be considered as short-term.


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