It’s been a funny old couple of months for Chelsea fans. A rich vein of form brought top of the league elation by the beginning of December, but turgid performances over the next few weeks saw new anxiety set in. January brought both the African Cup of Nations and some emphatic victories, but reviving fortunes were punctured by a dismal showing at Hull. In the very next game came a professional performance and a two nil win over Wenger’s Arsenal.
The top Premier League sides have been dropping more points and conceding more goals than in previous seasons, and it’s been a roller coaster ride. On the surface, however, it’s not looking bad for Chelsea who can boast a 72% win record under Ancelotti (Mourinho managed 71% in his three years), twenty clean sheets and having only failed to score once. What better time, then, for bridgeviews.co.uk’s monthly look back over the stats to look at what they can tell us about Chelsea’s progress?
Goals galore: and four players are getting all of them
In contrast to recent years, Chelsea have been prolific in front of goal this season, scoring 85 goals in total. Most have come at home, where the Stamford Bridge faithful have already celebrated 56 goals.
It’s in the league that the improvement in front of goal under Ancelotti is most marked. We are now two thirds (66%) of the way through the Premier League season and, having scored 60 goals, Chelsea are already 88% of the way towards matching the total number of goals scored last season, and 83% of the way to matching the club’s Premier League record (72). Scoring at rate of 2.4 goals per game, Chelsea are on target to score 92 over the course of the season, just five less than Man Utd’s current record of 97.
Perhaps even more surprising is that Chelsea are keeping up with their normally more attacking counterparts this season, having scored just one less than Man Utd and the same number as Arsenal. And they said our attack was ageing...
Looking at the goals that have been scored however, it’s clear that the vast majority are being scored or created by four players: Drogba, Lampard, Anelka and Malouda. Between them they have scored 53 goals – 62% of all Chelsea’s goals – and made 31 assists. Drogba’s worth is clear for all to see, contributing (by way of scoring or providing an assist) a goal every 0.8 games, but Malouda’s effectiveness is perhaps more surprising. He’s made far less appearances than Drogba and Lampard (just 19, many from the subs bench) and has contributed a goal every 1.2 games. Lampard’s record stands at having contributed a goal every 1.3 games.
But a leaky defence is costing points
On the face of it, 20 clean sheets – that’s one in 56% of all the games Chelsea have played this season – looks a very good record.
If Chelsea don’t pick up any silverware this season however it will be because the defence is not what it once was. Petr Cech has been beaten 20 times in the league already this season – just four less than were conceded in all of last season combined. The club is comfortably on course for its worst defensive record in the league for five years, when 30 goals were conceded in 03/04.
A goal down? Chelsea probably won’t come back
Over the last five years Chelsea have earned a reputation for composure, resilience and mental toughness. But the stats suggest something a little different this season. In all of Chelsea’s 36 games so far this season, Ancelotti’s men have conceded the first goal 11 times (that’s nearly one in every three games). And in those games Chelsea have only come back to win four times, drawing six of them.
That might not seem so bad, but consider those stats in the face of Chelsea’s record against the so-called ‘big four’, which reads four games played, four wins, eight for zero against. Those eleven teams who have scored against Chelsea first aren’t typically the league’s best clubs, but mid to lower table opposition. The reason Chelsea aren’t further ahead of Man Utd is because of a worse than normal record against lower table opposition, and too many draws having conceded an early goal – the West Ham game being a case in point.
Playing away isn’t so easy
And no, I’m not referring to John Terry’s private life. Chelsea’s record at home – in contrast to last season – has been astonishing under Ancelotti, with 89% of all games played at Stamford Bridge ending in Chelsea victory. Chelsea have won 92% of all home league games, racking up an average of 2.9 points per game.
Away from the safety of SW6 however there is a very different picture. Chelsea have won just 50% of all away games in the league, and scored just 1.8 points per game in the process. Across all competitions, they have scored half as many goals away (21 compared to 39 at the Bridge) and concede more, too (12 compared with 8). Only a third of Chelsea’s clean sheets have come on their travels.
Many of the stats above can be rationalised – you can understand why they’re working out that way. Many, for example, have speculated that Drogba’s increased return is down to him being more consistently partnered with Anelka or Ancelotti understanding how to ‘man manage’ him. But the difference between home and away performance – such a dramatic change on last season’s form – is more difficult to explain. I’ll be posting on this later in the week. In the meantime, if you have any ideas why Chelsea’s luck is drying up away from home, please post a comment.
You might also be interested to read:
- How the stats looked in January: prolific scorers and losing form
- How the stats looked in December: all or nothing football and the trouble with playing away