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Thomas Tuchel has been urged to drop one of his first-team stars - striker Timo Werner - if he wants to win the Champions League final against Manchester City.
The Blues striker, a £47.6 million signing from RB Leipzig, has struggled in front of goal with some glaring misses. However his all-round play has remained strong and he scored the first goal in Chelsea's 2-0 second leg win in the UCL semi-final against Real Madrid.
But axing Werner and bringing Christian Pulisic into the starting XI, due to the American's superior finishing skills, could be key to winning the final, according to Arsenal legend Paul Merson.
"Timo Werner scored a big goal for Chelsea against Real Madrid. But he shouldn't play in the Champions League final," Merson told StarSport.
"Christian Pulisic should start against Manchester City - because he is a better finisher.
"I'd be shocked if Pulisic doesn't play. He can beat two or three players and he's better in front of goal than Werner."
While Chelsea's performances have improved dramatically since Tuchel arrived at the club in January, Pulisic has reportedly been frustrated at his lack of playing time. He was a surprise starter in the semi-final first leg in Madrid - scoring a superb goal in a 1-1 draw - but was back on the bench for the second leg, replacing Werner with 23 minutes left.
However Merson believes starting Pulisic is crucial against City, in particular, because you get so few chances against Pep Guardiola's side and have to be clinical in taking them.
Christian Pulisic with a superb solo effort! :fire:- Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 27, 2021
He kept his head to take the ball down, round Courtois, and finish off the move :clap::clap::clap:
Chelsea lead! pic.twitter.com/Fi15wVrwXl
"When I played for Arsenal and we were defending corners, we could clear it and Ian Wright would beat two men on the halfway line and score. Pulisic does that," said Merson, adding that he's start the US forward in the Premier League fixture between the two sides on Saturday.
"I would play him against City this weekend and see how it goes. You won't get 10 shots a game against City, so you have to play your best finishers."
On the German striker's performance in the second leg, Merson conceded to StarSport: "Werner did well against Real Madrid. He's a handful and he just keeps going and going.
Chelsea lead! :raised_hands:- Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) May 5, 2021
A beautiful one-two in the build-up, before Havertz goes so close to scoring a delicious chip...
But Timo Werner is on hand to score the rebound from close range! pic.twitter.com/MWGVcseVul
"But Pulisic was unlucky not to play after scoring in the first leg, and when he came on he made a big difference.
"What he did to set up Mason Mount for the killer goal, checking his run and cutting it back, I don't see Werner doing that in a month of Sundays.
"He doesn't have that kind of composure. He would have smashed it across goal, probably without even looking, and the chance would have gone."
Is Merson right that Pulisic coming in for Werner is a change Chelsea should consider for their starting XI in the final? Let us know in the comments.
All imagery: PA Images
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