A few points to mention before we begin. This is my first written piece of (remotely) statistical analysis. As such it relies on simple statistics which may not give the whole picture. I decided to write this after looking at the shot positions and ratio of shots to on target shots in our losses against 'parked buses' and noticing a distinct pattern, we have a lot of shots inside the box. This is contrary to similar results last season where I noticed a LOT of shots from Luiz, Ivanovic and Cahill from 18+ yards. I often use such statistics in my own analysis of games but never put it all into writing before.
This being said, there seem to be two camps on WAGNH: Those who believe our first priority in the transfer window is to purchase a new CM such as Modric, Gundogan, Vidal etc. and those who think we should get a new Striker such as Costa, Balotelli or Mandzukic. I place myself firmly in the latter camp and hopefully this article will shed some light as to why that is. I think it's important to say that our current 3 strikers are in my opinion the worst aspect of the team. I also believe that we will be going in for both of these areas, but the purchase of Matic has made CM second priority.
So this article is a small overview into the relation between possession and shots taken, with the caveat of looking at where those shots were taken and whether they were on or off target for the Premier League games which Chelsea have played since the 6-0 win over Arsenal when it all looked so peachy for us. I have omitted the Liverpool game because while it was a fantastic result all it does is highlight that the ability to counter attack is a strong one in this team as it is, but we are more likely to face a parked bus in the majority of games and our issue is breaking down that bus.
Pretty much all of these statistics and images are from fourfourtwo.com/statzone
Chelsea VS. Norwich – 4/5/14
Score - 0-0
Possession – 72% - 28%
Shots – 23 - 6
I didn't get to see this game but looking at the statistics it was probably exactly the same as most of the others, I've read some of the comments and analysis and they say that individual players were not up to par (Matic in particular).
We had 4 shots on target in this game. 1 of which was inside the area. 1 shot on target inside the area is not good enough. It is that simple. According to the graphic one of the on target shots was just outside and I can't vouch for the pin point accuracy of these shot locations but it would be clutching at straws to bring up that point. 2 is not good enough either. As it stands the website I am using counts that second as inside the area, meaning we had 10 shots total inside the area with 2 on target.
As I said I didn't see this game and some of those off target shots could be headers: I'm assuming we ended up floating a few crosses into the box – which is a horrifically inefficient method of trying to score against a parked bus, especially with our strikers. The fact remains that we had 10 chances to score inside the box, and only managed 2 on target, 0 goals.
Chelsea VS. Sunderland – 19/4/14
Score - 1-2
Possession – 63% - 37%
Shots – 31 - 7
This game has the interesting footnote of being, to quote Karl Pilkington - "Bullshit".
I'm fully aware of the situation regarding Mike Dean throughout this one, and Vito Mannone also had a fairly good game, by my count we had 15 shots on target in the game with 1 goal. 9 of these shots (including said goal) were in the area. Looking at this game in particular suggests that we have no real difficulty in getting chances against a parked bus, what we lack is the ability to finish those chances.
We definitely should have won this game, we were unlucky with some horrendous incompetency from the referee (not favouring any particular team I'd like to point out) but, and I do hope people are starting to see where I'm going with this, we did not score enough goals despite having many chances in the area.
Swansea VS. Chelsea – 13/4/14
Score - 0-1
Possession – 37% - 63%
Shots – 7 - 26
Ironically, considering we won this game, it's one of the best examples of what I'm saying. We had one solitary shot inside the area during this game that was on target. Even the goal was outside the area. When you look at some of the trajectories of the arrows on the image, it's genuinely comical until you realise the depth of ineptitude it shows of all of our players.
15 shots inside the area out of 26 suggests we weren't struggling to create chances inside the area. 1 shot on target out of those 15 suggests that we are unable to finish these chances.
Chelsea VS. Stoke – 5/4/14
Score - 3-0
Possession – 51% - 49%
Shots – 18 - 4
Considering the reputation that Stoke City developed under Tony Pulis (more on that later) the stats for this game are quite surprising. The balance of possession suggests that they were by no means parking the bus. Look where it got them. 8 shots on target out of 18 is about the same as the other games, but as the scoreline shows this is what happens when teams AREN'T happy to cede us possession and try to keep the ball a bit themselves, they get pressed, they lose the ball, and we score very quickly because there is more space – it's what we are phenomenal at and have been all season – especially post-Jan.
This tactic has hinged on having Nemanja Matic in the centre of our midfield, and is also why we couldn't do it against Atletico (making our CL run all that more impressive – and why we should feel no real pain at going out in the semis).
Crystal Palace VS. Chelsea – 29/3/14
Score - 1-0
Possession – 33% - 67%
Shots – 14 - 21
This game is a prime example of why Tony Pulis does not get anywhere near the respect he deserves. His game plan (considering he manages at best mid table sides) is to sit back, and genuinely counter rather than defend. This is a perfectly legitimate tactic and one we have used in the past alongside the actual park the bus tactic (CL 2012 hello!). When you park the bus you don't try to counter much, but you do take advantage of clear opportunities when they present themselves (think Torres vs Barca).
But this is an article about Chelsea. We had one single shot on target inside the area during this game. 12 of our 21 shots were inside the area. Chances; No goals. Admittedly, half of those shots inside the area were blocked, another characteristic of a Pulis side is that type of defending. But there are still a good number of chances inside the area and not enough goals from them.
Chelsea VS. Arsenal – 22/3/14
Score - 6-0
Possession – 53% - 47%
Shots – 21 - 11
See what I wrote about the Stoke game. We all saw this game and there's nothing I can tell you that you can't work out for yourselves. Matic + Luiz press, attacking midfielders dribble, one of them or a striker scores because there is plenty of space available behind the defence. It helped us greatly on the way to a 6-0 win that Arsenal played one real CM against a pivot of that dynamism and quality.
I am fully aware that this is a basic version of analysis, and just something I have written up on a whim. We are all aware of the same pattern – we don't score against a parked bus. Some people think we need a CM as a top priority but that was Matic. A real striker is our top priority. Obviously we all expect both to come in this summer but say for example we had 50m to spend, I'd prefer to see 35m on a striker first, then the rest of the money (and sales) will be for a CM.
The way I see it we have plenty of options for next season even if Lampard goes with MVG coming back, Chalobah in the wings and even Joshy Mch. Against a team that is not going to attack – take the Swansea game for example – a player like Modric would be awesome, but I'd prefer to throw Josh in and see how he does.
Matic and Luiz are excellent together against a team that is going to attack us and try to put pressure on us, and I agree that we do need some kind of cover for Matic, but the striker has to be the first priority.
I recognise that it is not only down to the striker to score goals, and our attacking midfielders could also stand to finish much more consistently. As I mentioned before none of our 3 strikers are good enough to be a first choice, they have all chipped in with important goals, but that is the exception rather than the rule. Lukaku is a fantastic player and I'm a huge fan of him, but he alone with two of our current crop will not be good enough. There has to be a new signing, marquee type. I'm not sure how I feel about either, both have their drawbacks, but for me it does have to be Costa or Balotelli. We'll see.
On Mourinho and the fire he has come under recently for being unable to break down the bus:
Given the change in the team we have seen over the season, and the amount of work which has clearly gone into that, the stamina, explosiveness and transition play that are so evident in our press/counter game is phenomenal. As a manager you can only develop one side of the team at a time. I'm not talking about defence or attack, I'm talking about tactics. Yes we sit back and defend sometimes, and yes we play the press/counter sometimes, and sometimes we have to beat the bus, when you look at how well we do the first two you cannot blame Jose if we sometimes lack the ability to accomplish the latter. The first two are the ones you need to beat the big teams (check our top 4 record this season), which is a key part of developing the winning mentality which Jose mentioned at the start of the season that the younger players need.
If next season with the signings we make we still struggle at the third, criticism will be perfectly warranted, but right now I believe in Jose Mourinho and what we as a club have accomplished this season.