Chelsea’s Underperformance: A Deep Dive into Mauricio Pochettino’s Tenure
Since the arrival of former Tottenham manager, Mauricio Pochettino at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea’s lacklustre performances have raised eyebrows. Delving into the metrics gives a clearer understanding of where things might be going amiss.
The Bigger Picture
The reigning Premier League champions, Chelsea, have experienced a troubling start. For the first time since the 2000-01 campaign, the Blues have secured just one win from their initial six matches. Furthermore, their three defeats in the same number of matches is reminiscent of their poor start in the 2015-16 season. Analysing the past 38 games, equivalent to a full season, Chelsea’s victory column shows a mere nine ticks. When contextualising this with the overall Premier League performance during the 2022-23 and 2023-24 seasons, Chelsea’s standing is an unflattering 14th.
To highlight their decline, a comparative snapshot since Graham Potter’s appointment on 1st October 2022 and post his departure on 2nd April 2023 is crucial:
- Oct ’22 – Apr ’23 Premier League Standings:
- Manchester City – 1st (90 points)
- Chelsea – 14th (39 points)
- Post Apr ’23 Premier League Standings:
- Manchester City – 1st (43 points)
- Chelsea – 17th (11 points)
(Source: BBC Sport)
The Goalscoring Hurdle
Despite Chelsea’s commendable number of touches inside the opposition’s box, their goal conversion has been concerning. With 241 touches, only superseded by Tottenham’s 250, the Blues have netted a mere five times this season. In contrast, clubs like Brighton have netted 18.
The underlying stats further underline Chelsea’s inefficiencies:
- Shot Conversion Rate: Chelsea’s 5.5% is only better than Luton Town’s 4.8%.
- Goals vs Expected Goals (xG): Chelsea’s discrepancy between actual goals and xG is the highest in the division. With only 5 goals against an xG of 11.6, the negative difference is sizeable.
- ‘Big Chances’ Conversion: The team has managed to convert a paltry 16.7% of ‘big chances’. Out of 18 such opportunities, they’ve missed 15.
A Glimpse of Hope Amid Injuries
Christopher Nkunku, the £52m acquisition, was the silver lining during Chelsea’s pre-season. His synergy with Nicolas Jackson was eagerly anticipated. However, due to Nkunku’s unfortunate knee injury, this partnership remains a mere anticipation. Adding to Pochettino’s woes are injuries to seven other primary squad members, including skipper Reece James.
Significant investments like Mykhailo Mudryk, who came for a staggering £88m from Shakhtar Donetsk, haven’t yet yielded returns, with the forward yet to find the net.
Chelsea’s hefty £1bn expenditure over three transfer windows since Todd Boehly’s stewardship in May 2022 has brought significant pressure on the club’s performance. The stats indicate Pochettino’s reluctance to frequently shuffle his XI, evident from the mere five changes he’s made so far this season.
Chris Sutton, ex-Chelsea forward, expressed on BBC Radio 5 Live’s Monday Night Club that despite these considerable investments, Chelsea’s current XI doesn’t stack up against top Premier League outfits. In contrast, Andros Townsend, who previously played under Pochettino at Tottenham, believes in Pochettino’s long-term vision and his habit of providing players an extended run.
Pochettino’s challenge now is to invigorate his forward line and navigate Chelsea out of the storm. With no European commitments this season and the mounting pressure to ensure Champions League qualification, the season ahead appears daunting for the London club.