Despite being top of the table and having the best defensive record in the whole league, Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea still have some troubles that need solving. Perhaps the biggest one of those problems is the Blues’ attacking weakness, that led to them scoring only 49 goals so far, which is nowhere near Liverpool’s 70 or Manchester City’s 69. That lack of offensive strength is obviously something the Chelsea manager is aware of, as he pointed that out quite a few times. Actually, he even tried to sign Wayne Rooney in the summer to solve that issue but, as we all know, failed to capture the Manchester United striker and got Samuel Eto’o instead.
As we all know, Eto’o didn’t turn out to be an answer to Chelsea’s attacking shortcomings. It seems obvious that the Blues’ offensive is inferior to other top teams’ strike forces. The question remains, how far are Mourinho’s strikers from the standards set by this season’s top scorers? And what are the reasons behind their lack of goals? Hopefully, this article will provide us with some answers to those questions.
Let’s start with a little explanation. Obviously, Torres and Eto’o aren’t only Chelsea strikers, with Demba Ba also being an option for Jose Mourinho. However, I’ve decided that he have played way too few minutes of football to include him into this comparison.
That said, let’s look at the most obvious attacking stats first. It’s not hard to notice that both Torres and Eto’o aren’t really less accurate with the shots they take than Suarez, Sturridge and Aguero are. The Spaniard’s shooting accuracy is only 3% worse than those of Liverpool’s deadly duo, and Cameroonian have actually achieved the same accuracy as Manchester City striker.
More of a difference can be seen if you compare the chance and clear-cut chance conversion stats. Eto’o seems somewhat unimpressive here as he’s the worst of all the featured players in both of those statistics. Torres doesn’t look much better in terms of converting chances, but he does the good job when presented with a clear-cut opportunity – actually only Daniel Sturridge does better here, with Luis Suarez achieving the same conversion rate as Chelsea’s biggest ever signing.
When it comes to the frequency of shooting, you can see a massive difference between Chelsea players and the other featured strikers. Torres seems especially bad here, as it takes him 49 minutes to take a shot and 94 minutes to shoot on target. In other words, he needs more than half of a match to even have a try at scoring, and slightly more than a full game to trouble opposition’s goalkeeper. Eto’o looks much better here, but he’s still somewhat off the standards set by Suarez, Sturridge ad Aguero.
As the creativity stats show us, Chelsea strikers seem to be a bit one-dimensional. It takes Torres much more time than any other of all the featured players to set up his teammate as he creates a chance every 79 minutes and a clear-cut chance every 1033 minutes. It’s better with Eto’o, who actually creates chances more frequently than Daniel Sturridge, who’s the least creative of this season’s top scorers.
However, a look at the quality of the chances created by those players shows us, that there is some big difference between the opportunities Eto’o creates and the chances created by Sturridge. 26% of all the chances Liverpool striker created were the clear-cut ones, while for Eto’o this stat is much lower 10,53%, so he may provide his teammates with more chances, but the quality of those chances isn’t as good as it could be. Actually, chance quality stat is another one that sees Chelsea duo much worse than the best strikers in the league.
Finally, there is final third pass accuracy stat, that yet again seems bad in Torres’ case, but quite decent for Eto’o, who’s on level with Suarez and Sturridge. Then there is Aguero with his impressive 81% final 3rd pass accuracy, which is probably the highest I have ever seen any striker achieve.
Let’s now have a look at all those players’ shot placement stats that you can see at the image above. As I’ve already pointed out, Chelsea strikers are taking much less shots than the current top scorers. That’s why I’ve decided to use the percentages instead of hard numbers to check if one of the reasons behind Eto’o and Torres not scoring too much is their shot placement.
As you can see above, Suarez, Sturridge and Aguero all place most of their shots on target closer to the goalposts, where it is harder for the goalkeeper to stop them. Obviously, all of them seem to try and avoid shooting into the center of the goal, where stopping the ball is easiest to do. It’s different with the Chelsea strikers, who tend to shoot more centrally. Again, Fernando Torres is the worst one here, as over 60% of his shots are fired into the middle of a goal. Given that poor shot placement, I’m seriously wondering how did Torres achieve a higher chance conversion than the other of a compared Chelsea strikers. And while Eto’os shot placement isn’t as bad as his Spanish teammate’s, he still looks worse than all of the rest of compared players.
If I were to answer the questions I’ve asked at the beginning of this article, I’d actually have to say that pretty much everything seems wrong with Chelsea attackers. They seem to be really far from the standards set by this season’s top scorers, as both Eto’o and, especially, Torres look much worse than the other featured strikers in almost every one of included stats. They are converting and creating fewer chances, shooting much more seldom and the quality of chances they create is much worse than this of Suarez, Sturridge and Aguero. Finally, even their shot placement seems wrong. If anything could stop Chelsea from winning the title this year, it’s their attack. Fixing it seems to be the biggest challenge Jose Mourinho has to deal with at the moment.
I'm a law student, Liverpool supporter and English football worshiper, who likes to analyse his beloved sport. You can follow me on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/PawelWolecki
Sep 19, 2014 0