There was a hint of excitement too, though, in a game that appeared to revolve around him, something that might start to become all too familiar. He was firstly denied a deserved goal after his shot clattered off Ben Godfrey and was credited to the Everton defender, before his delightful cushioned control and finish was ruled out after the ball brushed his arm. His influence inside the box, despite his menacing work in the deeper areas of the pitch, continued when he was clipped by Jordan Pickford after rounding England’s No 1, allowing Jorginho to secure a dominant win and consolidate their position in fourth.
While Thomas Tuchel described the midfielder’s performance as “fluid”, and it certainly was overall, there were a couple of heavy touches to remind the Germany international early on that a decisive impact in this game would not be quite as effortless as his subsequent display would look. Tuchel also conceded that the 21-year-old had “stepped up” and was capable of emerging as a “dominant” figure in this attack – which is now arguably one of the most important micro goals beneath the obvious team objectives to finish inside the top four and acquire a piece of silverware. Elevate the £72million signing towards his enormous potential and Chelsea will probably be in a good place, with the collection of forwards more than capable of improving their ‘goals for’ column (44), currently 12 behind Man City, 11 behind Man United and four behind Leicester.
In the present though, with Timo Werner still freezing too often in front of goal and incurring the wrath of Tuchel during Monday night’s game, Havertz is worth pursuing as a false nine, particularly against teams that don’t match up with the Blues’ back three.
Tuchel has swiftly constructed a sturdy foundation in just 11 games in charge of the Blues: Five successive home clean sheets and nine in 11 games overall. Now ‘The Professor’ will embrace the challenge of creating an attack capable of slicing opponents apart, with Havertz a candidate to be the centrepiece.
“I’m very happy with his performance, there’s no doubt about his quality,” Tuchel remarked after banking three more points. “His talent and his character. He needs to adapt to the Premier League and to a club that must win every game, the highest standards. It’s a normal process to adapt to this mentality.
“He showed up between the lines, he used his potential to accelerate our game, increase touches in the box, assists and through balls and to take the responsibility to finish himself; this is what we want.”
Tuchel opted against starting Mason Mount on Monday, but Chelsea’s player of the season so far offered a glimpse of how he can better bring out that “dominant” side of Havertz after the England midfielder’s introduction on 66 minutes.
Now, ahead of Leeds and perhaps a season-defining second leg against Atletico Madrid, a game that Mount is suspended for, Tuchel will surely be planning to match the pair more regularly throughout the season’s run-in.
The furious nature of Mount’s pressing offers the devastating potential for Chelsea to hurt opponents in transition, as evidenced when he pinched the ball off Tom Davies late on, conjuring up a three against two counter-attack alongside Havertz and Werner, the latter of whom conspired to miss his second one-on-one of the match. A let-off for Everton but a hint at what’s to come now that Havertz is up to speed and the inevitable return of Mount from the start.
Tuchel hinted as much too, declaring that he expected “man-marking” from the Toffees and therefore went for “speed and deep runs”. Mount can obviously provide the former in the tighter midfield spaces, while disrupting more adventurous opponents who operate with a less rigid shape. And Havertz is clearly willing to become a reference inside the box, something that is evidently missed without Olivier Giroud, who does not always have the legs to both link the play and become a target for that final ball.
So while the emergence of Havertz is exciting enough, the combination of the German and Mount in tandem may finally take Chelsea’s attack to the next level.