Conor Gallagher: A Chelsea Journey
Mixed Fortunes and Transfer Speculations
Conor Gallagher has had a mixed couple of years back with Chelsea. Every transfer window, he has been linked with several clubs and it has felt like the club haven’t had any real desire to keep him. It seemed like he was viewed as an asset that could be lost in order to help with FFP concerns. However, Gallagher has been committed to the club and never actively sought any exit options. He is now benefitting from that as he has established himself as one of the first names on the team sheet under Mauricio Pochettino.
Chelsea’s Summer Signings and Gallagher’s Role
During the summer, Chelsea spent big money on their midfield. Moises Caicedo and Romeo Lavia were signed, while Enzo Fernandez had joined just months earlier. Gallagher looked to be surplus to requirments, but he has physical attributes that suit the style that Pochettino is trying to bring to Stamford Bridge. He is relentless in his off-the-ball work and he is aggressive in his pressing. Pochettino has been using the England international in a more advanced role and that has helped the team press high.
The Underlying Numbers: Goals and Assists
This season, Gallagher has yet to score, despite having 1.04 shots per ninety minutes, with an accuracy of 50%. He has accrued 0.8 expected goals (xG), which suggests that he will be on the scoresheet sooner rather than later. However, he is having a big impact in the final third, with four assists. An average of 3.39 shot creating actions per ninety minutes is up from last season’s 2.61, highlighting the bigger influence he is having.
Although his expected assisted goals (xAG) is only 1.7, the quality of attackers in the Chelsea team has helped overachieve on that number. It is unlikely that Gallagher will continue to record assists at his current rate, but he is an excellent attacking option in the side and he will contribute plenty over the coming months. Based on his underlying numbers, there should be an uptick in goals and a slowing of the number of assists.
The main attribute that Gallagher brings to Chelsea is his work rate and he adds a lot to the defensive structure. He averages 2.96 tackles per ninety minutes and he is regularly trying to impact the game, whether he has the ball or not. This has helped Chelsea become a front foot team and press high up the pitch.
Future Prospects at Stamford Bridge
In the recent match against Manchester City, the homegrown midfielder was one of the best players on the pitch. Gallagher needed a strong showing against one of the best teams to convince his doubters and he delivered one. He completed 95% of his passes and made two key passes in the game, including an assist. Off the ball, he made three tackles and continued to press relentlessly.
Gallagher is now looking like his long term future is at Stamford Bridge. Pochettino has placed his trust in the midfielder and he has found a key piece of his starting eleven. With the transfer window on the horizon, it wouldn’t be a huge surprise if there were links to other clubs. In previous windows, a sale may have made sense for the club. Now, Chelsea need to keep him at the club as a priority.