StatsTalk: What’s Wrong at Chelsea?
It’s not Mourinho’s third Season for sure! Chelsea visit the Hawthorns for the third game of the season proper. However, it seems the Blues are still hung up with their preseason. We compare the current season to the last one on a per game basis using some stats. There are some simple facts revealed along with some anomalies.
The First game was a draw against last season’s over-performing Swansea. It meant that Chelsea were going to begin the season on a low not. However, the Blues had more horror to endure at the Etihad the following week. Manchester City romped up with a surprising 3-0 win against Jose Mourinho’s lads.
The loss to City meant that for the first time in 17 years, Chelsea were without at least two points on the board. Manchester City went five points clear of the Blues so early in the season. As Jose himself stated, he could yet multiply the remaining 36 matches by 3 and win the title. Mathematically its a very obtainable target. However, if football were mathematics, Alan Turing would be its greatest star. Yet we lean on numbers to see where it went wrong for Chelsea.
In his pre-match press conference, Mourinho has very clearly stated his dissatisfaction with the stars of last season’s title charge. Only Diego Costa was spared the name calling:
“I’m not happy with anyone. I’m not happy with [Branislav] Ivanovic’s form, [Gary] Cahill, John [Terry], Azpi [Cesar Azpilicueta], Eden [Hazard], [Cesc] Fabregas, [Nemanja] Matic.”
In addition to that, the Special One also talked about how he was more committed to winning now and had started hitting the gym more often in order to be fit for increased action on the touchline. He also told journalists about how everyone was doing an extra shift in training in order to improve and finally get the victory that has been eluding the team so far.
Watching more videos, Mourinho is sure to have seen the difference in numbers from the last season to this one. The above criticism of star players is testimony to just that. We try to reveal what Mourinho has been able to gauge, with the help of some numbers.
What’s Wrong with the Attack?
A lot. Chelsea were cruel finishers last term. Diego Costa was an all guns blazing striker whenever on the pitch. Hazard obliged in some big games as well. The defenders struck gold in terms of goal scoring. This season is a paradigm shift. Although two games into the season is far too soon to make a judgement, we must know what’s wrong though.
The blue bars are the total shots and the other one is for shots inside area, the place where most of Chelsea goals came from last season. The numbers are based on a per game basis.
Last season when Chelsea became Champions, they had taken almost 14 shots on the opposition goal in each game. In the two games this season, that number is down to just above ten. That’s four shots less for each game, one or more of which could be the game changer if taken.
As a safe assumption, lets assume that only 0.3 goals could be created from the reduced number of shots. Multiplying it by 38 gives the number 11.4. It means that Chelsea will score almost 11 goals less this season compared to last season. This is only an assumption but it still is a very drastic number of goals, worth anywhere between 5 to 15 points.
In comparison to last season, for the first two matches the shots taken from inside the area have reduced from above eight to above five. That’s three shots less from inside the area per game, our most promising place to score a goal. We could say that the of the five shots less being taken in each game have mostly been taken away from inside the area. Hence it will have an even greater impact on the number of goals we score.
Last season, we were very good inside the area, this season we have not been so far. All this compounds the goal-scoring problem. We have scored 2 goals in 2 games. Hazard, Costa or any other striker needs to up their game significantly for these numbers to improve.
Where’s the Midfield Magic of last season?
Gone with the wind, it seems. Cesc Fabregas has looked a ghost of himself and Matic has not been up to his usual imperious best. The attack and defence have both suffered as a result. Fabregas’ passes and clever balls to Costa have dried while Terry and Cahill have had a torrid time thanks in part due to Matic’s inability to hold his opponents.
In their run to become the Champions, Chelsea played more than 500 passes per game last season. More than the Liverpool of 2013-14. Though nothing like the tiki taka numbers of Bayern Munich and Barcelona, 500 is still a very, very good number.
This season, Chelsea’s passing numbers are closer to last season’s Stoke City than they are to the two teams mentioned above. Clearly a fall of 100 passes per game is not natural. Something is off with the midfield and very much so.
The lack of performance from Fabregas and Matic aided to the absence of Oscar might be a factor but that should not be the justification. A team that prides itself in being a European powerhouse needs to do better than that, even when having an off day.
Just as the attempted passes have reduced so have the successful passes in direct proportion. The latter is completely dependent on the former and should improve shall the midfield pair begin to fare better. They need to.
The Key passes have also declined from close to 11 per game to 7.5. That’s the failure of the attacking trio, including last season’s Player of the Year Eden Hazard. It has a telling impact on the ability of the team to score goals.
The Weirdness of The Defense:
Let’s make one thing clear, the Chelsea defence was the best in the league last season but it was not all by itself. It was equal parts great and equal parts made to look great thanks to Nemanja Matic. So integral he was last season, that Chelsea lost very few games with him in the lineup.
If you dont concede, you won’t lose. Manchester City showed that Chelsea can concede. Especially when Nemanja Matic was way off his best. The following numbers might give the impression that the Chelsea defence has been better this season.
However, all it really shows is that the defence has truly been exposed much largely due to the drop in form of the midfield Giant that the Serb is. His importance can’t be stated in words only, Chelsea need a good deputy for him. For bigger games he may need help too. Anyways, treat yourselves to the nightmare that Chelsea endured last week at the Etihad.
More interceptions, more blocks, and more defensive errors. That’s been the story so far. Again, remember the name: Matic, Nemanja Matic. He comes good and all will seem well again. He continues to be awry and we will continue to curse Cahill and Captain. End of Story.
Is there Light?
Sure. You can bet on that. It’s named Paul Pogba. But that’s not coming, and the next best thing is having Jose himself. He can win the title with the team he has. He must be doing every thing he can. The players though need to take the losses as an experience and learn from it.
Midfielders need to wake up from their hibernation, the striker need to be sharp and precise. The defence will sort itself out once these two things happen. Terry is still the best CB in the league, despite his lack of pace.
So let’s see whether Chelsea return to more respectable numbers with the game against West Brom at the Hawthorns. Here’s hoping it’s better than last season.
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