This article is part of Football FanCast’s The Chalkboard series, which provides a tactical insight into teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…
Chelsea face Crystal Palace at Stamford Bridge on Saturday as they look to consolidate their place in the top four before the international break.
Whilst many will pinpoint Wilfried Zaha as the main threat for the Eagles, there is another player the Blues should be keeping their eye on.
The Blues face Roy Hodgson’s side this weekend having won their last five games in the Premier League and they’ve looked particularly sharp going forward – they have scored 25 goals in 11 games this term in the top tier.
However, defensively, they have been vulnerable. They have shipped 17 goals in the league, which is less than just five other teams. Palace will be looking to exploit that this weekend, and Jordan Ayew could play a big role in doing so.
Ivory Coast international Zaha, of course, is Palace’s star player. Currently valued at £49.5m by Transfermarkt, he would likely command a higher fee than that, and he was the subject of heavy interest from both Arsenal and Everton during the summer.
However, he ended staying with the London club, which affected his confidence. He admitted as much in October, and that has been clear with his form. So far this campaign, he has just one assist and has failed to get himself on the scoresheet despite starting 10 matches. He has still proved dangerous in flashes – he has averaged 4.5 dribbles per match, for example – but he is not as threatening as he has been previously.
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Ayew, though, has done well since joining from Swansea for £2.5m during the last transfer window. Palace have netted just 10 goals in the Premier League, but the Ghana international has scored four of them. That comes from just 35.4 touches per match, which is not exactly a huge amount.
The £7.2m-valued striker – as per Transfermarkt – has also won two fouls per match, which is, again, not to be sniffed at. Also, he is a lot less likely to give the ball away than Zaha – he has been dispossessed 2.1 times compared to the former Manchester United forward’s 4.6 per match.
Usually, you would not look beyond Zaha in terms of danger men, but recent circumstances have changed that. Instead, Ayew is the one to watch, and he will be waiting to pounce if the Blues’ defence offer him any gifts.