By Steve Sands
As Chelsea prepare to host Aston Villa on Saturday, in what is a should win game, the big question is why the Premier League title holders sit 16th in the table midway through October – ten points behind league leaders Manchester City.
Jose Mourinho seems to have taken to blaming everyone for Chelsea’s poor start to the campaign, from match officials, the FA to a supposed rat in the camp leaking information about team selection and tactics.
The odds for the ‘special one’ to be the next Premier League manager to leave his post are as low as 4/1 at the moment with only Steve McClaren and Saturday’s opponent Tim Sherwood seen by the bookmakers as being at greater risk.
But what’s the real reason for the decline in form?
Thomas Negron from the Harvard College Sports Analysis Collective in the USA has done some very interesting statistical analysis as to where Chelsea have fallen short this season compared to last year’s triumphant campaign.
“Only four months after winning the Premier League title, Chelsea sits near the bottom of the table and has conceded the second-most goals of any team in the Premier League. I decided to look into exactly what has happened to Chelsea’s in the first six games of this Premier League season.”
“Last season, Chelsea conceded 0.84 goals per match in the Premier League. Through seven games this season, they have conceded 2 goals per match.”
“A lot of this boils down to a statistic known as TSR (total shots ratio) which simply measures the number of shots your team takes divided by the total shots taken in a game. Last season, Chelsea had a TSR of 57.6%. So far this season, their TSR is only 54.1% and this is with their average shots per game increasing from 14.8 to 16.4.”
“Chelsea are conceding 13.9 shots per game on average, much higher than the 10.9 shots per game they conceded last year. This has lead to increased work for their goalkeepers, who are averaging 4.3 saves per game compared to the 2.4 saves per game they had last season.”
“Their tackling percentage (successful tackles/attempted tackles) has fallen about three percentage points, making them one of the worst tackling outfits in the Premier League. Their clearance rate has also dropped significantly (from 27 clearances/game to 18.1 clearances/game) which relates to their inability of stopping teams from getting shot opportunities.”
At this point I can’t help thinking of the name of the ever dependable John Terry or defensive midfielder Nemanja Matic who was substituted just 27 minutes after he was brought off the bench in Chelsea’s recent 3-1 defeat at home to Southampton. The Chelsea boss seems to be making some strange decisions this season and behaving rather erratically, as highlighted by the doctor gate affair during the 2-2 draw with Swansea back in August.
As statistician Thomas concludes, all the numbers point to
“Some big issues with the Chelsea side. These trends will be important to look at as the season progresses and could lead to some important transfer business this January from the London club as they attempt to defend their title.”