Chelsea left striker-less after Lukaku, Werner injuries; Solskjaer praises saviour Ronaldo
While some Blues fans might argue that this would still be better than if Werner had to lead the line by himself, it is not an ideal situation for Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel ahead of a busy run which will see them play five games over the next 17 days.
WATCH: Tuchel speaks about Lukaku injury
Thankfully for Tuchel’s men, that run includes games against Norwich City, Newcastle United, and Burnley – teams they can easily beat even with 11 Saul Niguezs on the pitch.
Lukaku sustained a twisted ankle after a horrific challenge from Malmo defender Lasse Nielsen, while Werner suffered a hamstring injury midway through sprinting for the ball.
Tuchel, who had before the game declared that Lukaku was mentally and physically fatigued after being overplayed on international duty, insisted that he had no choice but to start the Belgium international against Malmo.
“If I knew before I wouldn't have done it. But you can't know it before and it was necessary that he was on the pitch and he started very strong,” said Tuchel.
“I spoke with him about the situation, that I think he carries a bit of mental fatigue around with him. I think that is also normal but he is our number nine and is our reference upfront.
“It's not a muscle injury or because of physical fatigue. He is a little bit overplayed; this is my opinion and maybe I'm not even right. But this was a moment to give him confidence and let him play. I don't regret it, things like this can happen. It was bad luck.
“Romelu twisted his ankle with the foul in the box and Timo has a hamstring injury. It will take a while for both of them. We need more examinations to be more precise but they will be out for some matches.”
In the absence of a recognised striker, Tuchel is expected to utilise a False-9, with Callum Hudson-Odoi and Kai Havertz in pole position to take on Werner and Lukaku’s role of missing chances for Chelsea.
And Tuchel has challenged the duo to prove that they are more than capable of stepping up, as he said: “They (Hudson-Odoi and Havertz) can prove a point now so we will have some games without Romelu and Timo so everyone is invited to join the race for minutes on the pitch.
“When they are on the pitch, they need to show their hunger and determination to be decisive and be in the box.
“This is how it is and they did it today but there's still room to improve and on Saturday we need the same hunger and determination from whoever starts for us because we need goals to win matches. We need to find solutions without Romelu and Timo, that's clear. Everyone will join the race to be decisive for us.”
Meanwhile at Old Trafford, Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was left thanking his lucky star – Cristiano Ronaldo – after the Portuguese rescued a victory from the jaws of defeat for the Red Devils.
United found themselves 2-0 down to Atalanta at half-time, but goals from Marcus Rashford (53’), Harry Maguire (75’), and the one and only Ronaldo (81’) saw them take all three points against the Italian side.
WATCH: Bruno Fernandes reflects on comeback win over Atalanta
And after the game, Solskjaer waxed lyrical about Ronaldo, whose goal probably has prevented the Norwegian from going the way of Old
“I was really, really pleased with how he led the line,” Solskjaer gushed. “As a centre forward we asked him to run the channels, drop in, press more because we're at home, of course. We want to get the crowd behind us.
“Even he was down inside his own six-yard box towards the end defending, you could see him sprinting. He did everything a centre forward should be doing, leading the line and defending. If anyone wants to criticise him for work-rate or attitude, just watch this game. Watch how he runs around.
"And of course, the goal is just what he does better than most. The header is not on a par with his Roma one but he's still got a leap and timing like no-one else.”
WATCH: Solskjaer hails Ronaldo's work ethic
United will next take on arch-rivals Liverpool in the English Premier League (EPL) this weekend.