Pochettino, Year I: What do the data say about Chelsea 23/24?

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With the possibility of having a full preseason and defining what he seeks in the current Chelsea team, Mauricio Pochettino has accrued enough months in charge to assess his work. The Argentine has repeatedly emphasized the need to give time to a project that has signed numerous young players for significant amounts of money to […]

Published:21/03/2024

With the possibility of having a full preseason and defining what he seeks in the current Chelsea team, Mauricio Pochettino has accrued enough months in charge to assess his work. The Argentine has repeatedly emphasized the need to give time to a project that has signed numerous young players for significant amounts of money to compete with much stronger and better-positioned projects. But what has changed at Chelsea?

Football is a sport where countless reasons converge to explain a team’s performance, including chance, but prolonged trends tend not to deceive. And neither do the statistics. Despite spending a lot of money, the 22/23 Chelsea team had a serious problem in the penalty areas. In the Premier League alone, the team scored 37 goals excluding penalties out of the 53 Expected Goals generated, consistently missing clear chances game after game. In the overall season tally, data shows they generated chances worth 70 Expected Goals but only scored 47.

Offensively, strictly in numerical terms, things have improved: more Expected Goals are generated per game, fewer Expected Goals are needed to score a goal, and more goals are scored excluding penalties. Right now, in mid-March, they have exactly the same number of Expected Goals, scoring 66 goals out of 70 xG, nearly 20 goals more while playing the same competitions, including a League Cup final, lost at the last moment.

Where things aren’t going so well is defensively. The 23/24 Chelsea team is conceding more goals, opponents need much less Expected Goals to score, they recover far fewer balls in the opposition’s half (less than 5 per game, compared to 15 the previous year), and face more shots against. Their defensive activity in the opposition’s half has declined, perhaps in search of a different idea where they defend deeper and have more space to attack. Moreover, the most important aspect: they have conceded 44 goals excluding penalties, whereas in the entire 22/23 season, they conceded 48, keeping only five clean sheets.

This is compounded by the fact that their defensive performance largely depends on whether Thiago Silva and Levi Colwill can accumulate minutes. When they haven’t, the performance of Badiashile, Disasi, Chalobah, and the entire defense has been noticeably weaker. They influence both the security and the personality to progress with the ball.

However, in terms of offensive style, things haven’t changed much. Chelsea is the 4th team with the most ball possession but fails to translate it into danger, ranking 10th in Expected Goals. Furthermore, it continues to be one of the teams that accumulate the most passes before attempting a shot, with an average of 41 passes per shot. In their case, making so many passes is not translating into more depth, shots, touches in the box, or goal-scoring opportunities.

Founded in 2017 as a consultancy, Driblab has driven innovation through data in all aspects of professional football. Thanks to a transversal model, its database collects and models statistics in all directions. From converting matches and videos into bespoke data for training academies to developing cutting-edge technology, helping clubs, federations and representative agencies in talent scouting and transfer markets. Driblab’s smart data is used by clubs all over the world, with success stories such as Dinamo Zagreb, Real Betis and Girondins Bordeaux among others. Here you can find out more about how we work and what we offer.

Autor: Alejandro Arroyo
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