Statistics are becoming more prevalent than ever in the world of football and particularly here in the Premier League.
Whilst certain aspects of the beautiful game are impossible to gauge in numerical terms, there’s something incredibly reassuring about quantitative analysis when compared to the subjective opinion of a workaday pundit.
It’s why the popularity of statistic-based websites such as Whoscored and Squawka continue to surge only upwards, whilst Sky Sports and BBC Sport turned to data from Sports Interactive – the creators of Football Manager – during the summer when running the rule over rumoured transfer targets of the Premier League’s top clubs.
So with that in mind and seven league fixtures of the new campaign already gone, Football Fancast have decided to delve through Chelsea’s statistics for the 2015/16 in search of a few anomalous gems.
After a few hours of running the numbers, we came up with FIVE Chelsea statistics that might surprise you…
Plenty of criticism has been thrown Eden Hazard’s way this season, which is perhaps inevitable when coupling last term’s PFA Player of the Year award with Chelsea’s recent form.
Indeed, Jose Mourinho pointed the finger at the 24 year-old winger after a 2-1 defeat to Crystal Palace in August, whilst Belgium boss Marc Wilmots described him as ‘the worst player on the night‘ as the Red Devils scraped a win against Cyprus earlier this month.
Hazard is certainly yet to rekindle the title-winning form of last year. But statistically speaking, his form hasn’t actually been that far below his usual standards. He’s currently second in the Premier League’s dribble charts and fourth in terms of chances created per match.
In fact, he’s actually performing better than last season on certain fronts, as shown below:
Perhaps this statistic isn’t too surprising, considering Cesc Fabregas’ selection in the starting Xi has been a subject of great debate throughout Chelsea’s underwhelming start to the campaign.
But nonetheless, the fact no Premier League player has been dribbled past more times per match than the Spain international this season typifies why he’s come under such scrutiny – first and foremost, the lack of defensive protection he offers the likes of John Terry, Gary Cahill and Kurt Zouma at the heart of defence.
But here comes the twist. Who was the Premier League’s most dribbled past player last season? Nemanja Matic! That’s right, the 6 foot 4 enforcer famed for his physicality and defensive dominance. Head-scratcher, to say the least.
With the exception of the current campaign, many have viewed Chelsea as the most formidable defensive outfit in the Premier League since Jose Mourinho’s return, evident enough through them recording the lowest goals conceded record in the division for two consecutive seasons.
Counter-intuitively, however, it appears interceptions aren’t a core part of their defensive mantra – in fact, quite the opposite. No team has made less interceptions per match than the Blues this term:
And interestingly enough, it was the same case last year despite the west Londoners claiming the Premier League title. They actually made the fewest defensive actions (clearances, interceptions and blocks) of any top flight club:
That’s partly due them dominating the majority of their opposition last term, meaning less defensive actions are required. But it also suggests that the best defensive units rely on prevention (stopping an attack before challenges are necessary) rather than cure.
When Steven Naismith came off the bench to net three past Chelsea earlier this month, the Everton forward placed his name in the annals of Premier League history for a few different reasons.
First and foremost, he became only the sixth player in Premier League history to net a hat trick from the bench, along with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, Robert Earnshaw, Emmanuel Adebayor and Romelu Lukaku.
He also became the 32nd Premier League player to bag a perfect hat trick – scoring with either foot and his head – the third to do so for Everton alongside Yakubu and Luis Saha and only the fifth to record PL hat trick against Chelsea. The others are Dion Dublin, Patrick Berger, Kanu and Robin van Persie.
But perhaps most interestingly and telling of Chelsea’s woes this season, he also became the first player to score thrice against the Blues under Jose Mourinho, spanning a whopping 203 league games.
From those aforementioned 203 league games in charge of Chelsea, the Blues have conceded 141 goals, which works out at just 0.7 per match.
Rather incredibly, however, that means 10% of the goals conceded by the Blues under Mourinho in the Premier League have come this season alone, in the space of just seven games. It’s also one goal short of their entire total from the Special One’s first campaign at the helm, 2004/05, and almost half the amount they conceded last term (32) already.
Meanwhile, Mourinho’s Chelsea had claimed 103 clean sheets in 196 league fxitures before the start of the season – meaning they didn’t concede in 53% of their games.
This term, however, they’ve kept just one clean sheet, during a 2-0 win over London rivals Arsenal. That drops Mourinho’s clean sheet ratio from better than one-in-two before this season to one-in-seven since it began. Harrowing.