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By the numbers: Sarri-Jorginho vs. Lampard-Jorginho, same yet different?

A retrospective review between a season under Maurizio Sarri and season under Frank Lampard

Chelsea FC v Aston Villa - Premier League Photo by James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images

Malcolm X said: “The media’s the most powerful entity on Earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent.”

In the blink of an eye, narrative purported by the media can change perspective and perception. Jorginho, for example, has undergone a dramatic shift with how football pundits and analysts publicly view his game.

Not too long ago, he was heavily maligned for being the closest representation of Maurizio Sarri’s previous success at Napoli. Unheralded for much of last season under Sarri, Jorginho has revealed himself to be a technically gifted deep-lying playmaker, able to dictate tempo on and off the ball.

This season, the mood surrounding Chelsea has largely changed for a multitude of reasons. Perhaps all it took was Frank Lampard to praise Jorginho and his influence within the team to change the tune.

Chelsea FC v Brighton & Hove Albion - Premier League Photo by Chris Lee - Chelsea FC/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

The good folks at Statsbomb have put together a comparison of Jorginho’s time at Chelsea. For those unfamiliar with Statsbomb radar charts, radar charts provide a quick visualization for key metrics.

As always, it’s important to understand context regarding how data visualizations of this manner purports the interpretation. Flaws with radars include (and are not limited to) the order of variables, axes of different independent scales, and the misinterpretation of area versus length of each data point.

Reservations aside, let’s refocus on the chart above about Jorginho’s two seasons at Chelsea thus far. In red, we have Jorginho’s four months under Lampard. In blue, we have Jorginho’s prior season under Sarri.

For Statsbomb’s midfielder template, they display metrics commonly attributed to the defensive phase of the game on the left, and metrics attributed to the attacking phase on the right.

At first glance, Jorginho appears to be achieving better numbers across multiple metrics for this current season. He’s trending higher in certain key attacking metrics such as expected assists and expected goals from buildup.

Growth between seasons in terms of raw number is substantial, and is likely attributed to Lampard’s system receiving buy-in from the wide attackers. Lampard has stressed his wide attackers to stretch the opposing defensive line and get into the box. Personnel changes this year has brought in malleable players perhaps more willing to stick to tactics.

Objectively, Jorginho hasn’t been playing too differently between Lampard and Sarri. The numbers do suggest his influence has grown in attack.

Defensive metrics and statistics inherently do not tell the full story. Base defensive stats provide individual defensive contributions, however, as we all know defending is a team effort. As analysis improves, so will the ability to better assess defensive contributions.

Jorginho is not your prototype defensive midfielder who you can trust to defend in a 1v1 situation. But he is a solid contributor in the defensive phase of the game. The numbers do support this.

By the numbers, Jorginho’s defensive contributions have improved as well. Jorginho continues to intercept the ball at a high clip. Statsbomb prioritizes pressures and possession adjusted metrics for defensive contributions of their midfielder template.

Pressures denote the number of times a player has effectively pressed an opposition player per 90. Looking at the chart above, Jorginho has made improvements, albeit slight among both pressures and possession adjusted tackles since last season.

Over two seasons at Chelsea and two different managers, Jorginho has been a solid and consistent contributor. Lampard and Sarri’s systems share similarities in prioritizing possession. With Jorginho, you know what you’re going to get: a solid regista/deep-lying playmaker who will look to dictate tempo.

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