Chelsea have now moved to eight points clear at the top of the Premier League table and their extraordinary rebirth under Antonio Conte has been great to watch. Although certain players should be disappointed in their lack of effort last season, there have been others that have been brought to the next level by the Italian. One such player is Pedro. He was okay in his first season, but he was asked to come into a difficult dressing room and that would have impacted on his performance. It is already difficult settling into a new country and the atmosphere at Chelsea was poisonous under Jose Mourinho. The Spaniard worked hard, but he failed to live up to expectations.
However, he has been given another opportunity under Conte and he has grabbed it with both hands. Since the change to a 3-4-3 formation, Pedro has been one of the first names on the team-sheet. He usually plays on the right-hand side of the three attackers and has made the position his own. Many expected Willian to have another good year after receiving the Player of the Year award last season, but the Brazilian is having to play a supporting role to Pedro, highlighting just how consistent the former Barcelona man has been for the Blues.
Looking at the stats of Pedro’s first season, they aren’t too different to this season in a lot of the key areas. The difference has been the increased quality in both his creation and scoring of chances. He appears to be more confident when he is the final product and that is leading to more goals and assists. This could also be attributed to playing in a winning team rather than one that was rooted in mid-table of the Premier League.
During the 2015/16 season, Pedro managed to score seven goals and contribute two assists. He averaged 2.5 ball recoveries, 1.9 chances created and 2.5 shots per ninety minutes. His chance conversion rate was 12.3%. Meanwhile this season, the Spaniard has contributed five goals and five assists already. However, his averages are slightly lower than the previous season, as he has averaged 2.5 ball recoveries, 1.07 chances created and 2.14 shots per game. His chance conversion comes out at 19.2%.
His improvement isn’t as remarkable as it looks in terms of what he is contributing to the team, but he is becoming a lot more clinical with his end product and that is why he is a key member of the first-team at Stamford Bridge. The most impressive improvement has been his increase in assists, as he is now producing much better chances for his team-mates, despite creating fewer overall. This could be a systematic improvement from Chelsea, as a result of the change of formation. They may now be creating more space in the final third, which allows their attacking players to create clearer-cut chances. Another difference has been the return to form of Eden Hazard and Diego Costa this season, which has led to more chances being scored by Chelsea.
The statistical comparison above does highlight one major improvement in Pedro’s game and that is that the Spaniard is a lot more clinical than he was last season. At Barcelona, he was always seen as a reliable source of goals and a player that can change a game, despite not being one of the stars. He is fulfilling a similar role at Chelsea and it isn’t surprising that he is one of the first names on the team-sheet under Conte. The attacker very much fits the stereotype of a Conte player, in that he works hard, but also possesses the quality to make a difference when the team is in possession.