Tammy Abraham did notfear Timo Werner’s arrival at Chelsea. On the contrary, he welcomed it.
Abraham admitted, though, that he would rather play alongside the Germany international, rather than have to compete for a place with a man who struck 34 times in just 45 appearances for RB Leipzig last season.
Of course, Abraham was Chelsea’s top-scorer in 2019-20, but his strike-rate paled in comparison: 18 goals in 47 outings.
Consequently, his hopes of starting regularly this season looked slim, particularly with Hakim Ziyech and Kai Havertz also arriving at Stamford Bridge during the transfer window to battle Mason Mount, Christian Pulisic and Callum Hudson-Odoi for attacking berths in Frank Lampard’s preferred 4-3-3 formation.
However, Abraham is relishing the fight.
As Lampard acknowledged after watching the homegrown forward shine in a 6-0 Carabao Cup rout of Barnsley in September, “Tammy’s such a positive player and person.”
He was never going to shy away from the challenge of proving himself worthy of a starting spot, which is exactly what he is now doing.
Indeed, with Lampard now having seemingly found the right defensive set-up after a fifth successive clean sheet, Abraham has emerged as a key component in what could potentially become Chelsea’s first-choice forward line.
With the England international leading the line, and flanked by Werner and Ziyech, the Blues have recorded consecutive 3-0 wins, over Burnley and Rennes.
Ziyech’s availability after his fitness issues has obviously added a whole new dimension to the attack.
However, Abraham’s influence cannot be underestimated, particularly in terms of getting the very best out of Werner, who had, at times, been left too isolated when selected as an orthodox centre-forward during the early part of the season.
“I’m very happy with Tammy,” Lampard said after watching his No.9 bag the third goal in the Champions League win over Rennes on Wednesday night. “I’ve had numerous conversations with him about his role and I’ve a good relationship with him.
“We brought in players who are versatile in their nature and the qualities that Tammy can bring to the team are never lost on me. I thought the link-up play between Timo and Tammy was good.
“I know from talking to Timo a lot that he is comfortable on the left side and playing him means we can call upon the attributes of Tammy or Oli (Olivier Giroud) as central strikers.
“The way we want to play in a 4-3-3, you get plenty of opportunities as a left-side winger or inside winger to get into the box, so it really suits Timo. We saw loads of fluidity in the front three as a whole tonight.”
Abraham played his part in that regard. He may not be considered as mobile as either Werner or Ziyech but it was noticeable how often – and effectively – he dropped deep to pick up the ball or create space for his team-mates to attack.
It isalso worth noting that as well as scoring three goals this season, Abraham has already racked up four assists – which is just one shy of his tally for the wholeof 2019-20.
When the Werner deal was confirmed, former Chelsea defender Ashley Cole argued that rather than spell the end of Abraham’s Chelsea career, the increased competition would actually bring the best out of the 23-year-old.
We are certainly seeing encouraging early evidence of that, which should come as no surprise, given he hasimproved immeasurably since being afforded regular game time by Lampard after returning to the club followinga successful loan spell at Aston Villa in 2018-19.
A man who grew up idolising Didier Drogba and now takes inspiration from Robert Lewandowskiis clearly doing his utmost to become the kind of all-round centre-forward that other players will adore playing off.
Abraham has an excellent rapport with Pulisic off the field and has already shown signs of developing a productive understanding on it, while he has also linked well when fielded in the same team as Havertz.
The fact that he is now proving he can play in the same attack as Werner is a good sign for the academy graduate.
After a summer spending spree at Chelsea, Abraham is now surrounded by star players. Happily, he looks right at home among them.
He is still a long way off securing a regular starting berth, of course. The competition for places remains intense.
The last two games are little more than a good start. He cannot afford to relax. He will have to remain on edge.
Source : goal.com