This article is part of Football FanCast’s In Numbers series, which takes a statistical look at performances, season-long form and reported transfer targets…
Chelsea face Newcastle this weekend in the Premier League as they go in search of their fifth win in a row in all competitions.
First, though, we must get through the rest of the international break, and there are still some big games to come. One of those fixtures is Switzerland against the Republic of Ireland, with the former needing a win to keep their realistic hopes of qualifying automatically for Euro 2020 alive.
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From a Blues perspective, though, they should be watching this match to see one player in particular before their side’s clash with the Toon on Saturday. That man is Fabian Schar.
The 27-year-old is a 52-time international and has established himself as one of Newcastle’s most important players since signing for the club in a £3m deal. So far this campaign, only Matty Longstaff – who has only played one match – has a higher WhoScored rating than Schar’s 7.04. With Newcastle often under pressure – no team in the top flight has a lower average possession than Steve Bruce’s side’s 37.5% – the defender is often at the centre of the action. The term, he has dealt with the workload well on most occasions, too. In the Premier League, he has an average of 2.8 tackles and 2.4 interceptions per match, as well as 4.9 clearances. He is in the top three in all three aspects amongst his teammates this season.
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Against the Irish, though, he will be able to show off his lesser-known attacking qualities. His national side are far more comfortable in possession, recording 59.7% possession when these two sides met in the first qualifier for example, and Schar is impressive in attack.
He had two assists in five matches in the UEFA Nations League, whilst he has also scored during this qualifying process too. Eight goals and seven assists from the heart of the defence in 53 caps is impressive, to say the least, and his 85% pass accuracy in the Nations League also shows he knows how to find his man.
It will be these qualities that the Chelsea supporters, and indeed Frank Lampard will need to look out for on Tuesday at the Stade de Geneve.
Although it will be the Blues generally piling on the pressure at Stamford Bridge later this week, the former Hoffenheim man’s awareness on the ball will be something Bruce and co will be looking to take advantage of on the occasions they are able to make their rare forays forward.