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Time to drop Werner? Chelsea's misfiring striker needs time out of the spotlight

Chelsea are beginning to falter in what was amounting to a Premier League title challenge and the early-season output from landmark summer signing Timo Werner has also ground to a halt.

Werner failed to fire against Wolves on Tuesday evening with Daniel Podence and Pedro Neto netting at the other end to hand Chelsea back-to-back defeats in the Premier League.

It’s now nine games for club and country without a goal for Werner and there are calls from prominent voices for him to be dropped.

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Chelsea were named as title favourites by Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp last week but - after losing to Everton on Saturday as well as to Wolves - they could now drop as low as seventh place in a congested table.

Olivier Giroud scored his eighth goal of the season at Molineux to give Chelsea the lead and, in the process, matched Werner's goal tally in less than a third of the German’s game time in all competitions.

Ever-present, but increasingly quiet, Werner has looked off the pace since the last international break when his Germany side were defeated 6-0 by Spain.

Frank Lampard has nonetheless picked him in every league match, with Christian Pulisic, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Hakim Ziyech having all suffered recently with hamstring injuries.

Meanwhile, Werner’s fellow Bundesliga signing Kai Havertz has suffered with Covid-19 and missed three weeks.

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Lampard admitted post-Wolves that fatigue could be dragging his team down after two tough away trips in quick succession.

"There could be some fatigue. I hate to say it after a defeat because it could sound like an excuse but even the first 60 minutes, when we were the better team, we didn't have a zip about us," he said after the match.

"We have travelled up to Everton, come back and up to Wolves but everyone is in the same boat on that front. At the moment we have a couple of injuries in areas that mean I can't make too many changes or rotations in certain areas of the team.

"So I understand that side of it but when you are 1-0 up and turn the result around I wouldn't say it was because of fatigue."

Those 'certain areas' of the team that Lampard refers to are the wide attacking positions that Werner now occupies. The injury problems have affected the wide attackers and Werner had to do a job for his team, playing much of the match in the Midlands on the right wing.

Late in the match, Werner was seen tracking left-back Marcal with both Wolves and Chelsea pushing for winners at the same time. Ultimately, the Blues lost out. Werner ended the game with three shots - one going wide and two being blocked.

The £47.5 million ($59m) signing from RB Leipzig has played almost 1,600 minutes already this season - more than any other Blues player. Many saw this problem coming with Werner playing every week even on matchdays when Lampard had alternative options.

“Some days I am tired because of the match days I have played but I did it last season as well so I think these days it is normal to play so many games," Werner said when asked by Goal about fatigue before the Champions League game against Rennes in November.

"Every player needs a rest one game but I think this time the international break comes at the right point. It is always good sometimes to rest there. But in the end, I think it is good to play every game. I have fun playing every game so it is no problem for me."

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Every player wants to play but it was no surprise that a fresher looking Pulisic outperformed him on the other flank against Wolves.

Worryingly for Chelsea, they have regressed and are suffering last season's problems all over again - losing a tight match on the counterattack against a team who defended deep. Furthermore, it was naive to allow Neto the space to stretch his legs and win the game in the dying moments.

Like at Everton last weekend, Wolves were content to allow Chelsea the chance to cross and their compact shape limited the Londoners’ ability to play centrally and in between the lines.

There are indeed more problems at the club than just Werner, with mistakes creeping into what was a very solid back five including for new goalkeeper Edouard Mendy.

Havertz's ineffective displays are becoming more alarming by the week. Like Werner, Havertz also looks like a player who needs to be pulled from the team.

To get back in the hunt for a league title challenge, Chelsea need to rack up a series of wins once again and fast.

Lampard can ill-afford a backwards step having spent £220m ($275m) in the transfer window.

There will be no let-up for the manager, who has found himself in a delicate position, but his star striker needs time out of the spotlight.