StatsTalk: Willian to be dropped?
Pedro was one of Pep Guardiola’s favourite players in the Barca squad that won the treble under the famed manager. He won six trophies in his first year with Barcelona, coming straight into the squad from Barcelona B team. Famously, Pep once said that if Pedro was a Brazilian, people would call him Pedrito and he would be unaffordable to anyone.
A few weeks earlier, when Manchester United were very vocally in the hunt for the Spaniard’s signature and had just offloaded Angel Di Maria to PSG someone asked Pep about the Spain international. Unsurprisingly, he had words of praise for the Barcelona maverick:
“Pedro has played millions of games for Barcelona … so that shows the quality he has,”
“He is a world champion; he is a European champion; he has won the Champions League and many league titles. There is no doubt about his quality and he has the ability to play in any team in the world.”
Pedro is unlike any winger on the books at Chelsea, especially the once that prefer the right side of the pitch. Willian may be an enormous workhorse, but he is not a prolific goalscorer. Willian creates chances for others to score and assist but Pedro is capable to finish them in cold blood himself.
He is not as much a replacement to the Brazilian as he is an alternative. Especially against teams that need to be killed in one go, big team. He is a big game player, one who scores in finals and wins it for the team. Besides, he is just as hard working and contributes enormously in defense as well. Suiting the style Mourinho has embraced in the last season.
His main asset is pace, just as it was for Salah but every man with a sane mind would know that Pedro is about much more than just that. He is a fox in the box, popping in the right positions at the right time. Not exactly prolific like his more famed team-mates at Barcelona but still deadly enough to decide game on his own.
Let us look at the numbers upon which we base all these opinions. They show a glimpse into what Chelsea are getting with a player who in full force can score more than 20 goals a season. Chelsea badly miss such a player apart from their striker.
We have included Pedro’s numbers from the last time he had a good number of minutes per week, unlike last season where he was shadowed by the best attacking trio of the world.
On the first metric, we see Willian clearly coming out on top of the two wingers. He creates more chances than the Spaniard, as simple as that. Willian also has the tendency to cut inside more often than Pedro. He lays off more passes into the path of team mates who can then take advantage of the situation or squander it.
Pedro relies on his pace to beat his man and remains closer to the sideline, even hugging it. He is the player who can cross beautifully and accurately for the players in the box to finish. He is more impactful, but less frequent. His individual efforts are more concrete and he is still very much a team player.
This is another area of the game where Pedro is easily beaten by Mourinho’s first choice right winger of last season. He takes on more people per game and mananges to beat more opponents as a result. This results in more chances for his team-mates. However, Willian’s end products lets him down. He has come a long way from being the distraction between signing him and Hazard.
Pedro may not have the numbers, and is simply behind Willian in terms of taking on opponents on stuff such as dribbles. That is just not his forte and he still does more than enough in that regard to be considered good enough.
Willian’s biggest criticism is that for all his lung bursting efforts on the pitch, there is very little to show in numbers. Looking at the above infographic, that may not be entirely true. But it is not entirely false either. A player with three assists in an entire season who is one of the front three is no good number.
Diego Costa, whose sole job is to score manages the same number of assists even with a significant number of less minutes than Brazilian team-mate. Pedro is another story, as his crosses and passes reach their target with accuracy and prove deadly for opponents. His assists number is 250% more than Willian. That’s one of proving his value to the team in numbers.
One thing that Chelsea miss the most since the pairing of Drogba and Lampard last won the league together is a goal-scorer who can score 20 goals a season apart from the main man up front. Lampard, at his peak is sorely missed.
Willian is famed for his inability to score with his shots. They would either go wayward or go over the bar. At best, he would hit the woodwork. Once in a blue moon he would score a lucky goal like the one against Everton last season. Goal-scoring is not his stronghold and there is no shame in admitting that.
Pedro is another animal altogether. He comes with the promise of replacing Frank Lampard’s goals. As every Chelsea fan knows, those goals will prove vital to any Premier League title charge. It is a benefit that just can not be neglected. He is very much capable of scoring 20+ goals every season if given the opportunity on the pitch.
His goals have been crucial for Barcelona, he is the only player to score in six different competitions for Barca. Only last week, he won the UEFA Super Cup for Barca after coming off the bench. Such goals have the chance of changing games and Chelsea very much need it.
Hope is a very big word for anyone who comes to Chelsea. Salah, Schurrle, Cuadrado are all testimony to wingers who were supposed to make the spot their own. But none has been successful in doing so. Perhaps even Pedro wont replace the hardworking Brazilian but he is sure to complement Willian in a very big way. What one can’t do, the other will. Besides, Pedro is already proven at every stage of concern.
What do you think about Pedro’s chances against Willian? Let us know in the comments below.
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