Tammy Abraham is fond of setting goals, for getting goals.
Four years ago, he targeted 30+ with Bristol City. He got 26. After a disappointing first go-around in the Premier League with Swansea, he dropped back down to the Championship and set out to beat his total from Bristol with Aston Villa. He once again reached 26, though in eight games less.
This season, the target was to match those totals. And while he didn’t quite get there, he still collected 18 goals, none of which came from the penalty spot. His 15 non-penalty Premier League goals were in fact the most of any Chelsea striker since Diego Costa, and made him just the fifth striker in the last 20 years to reach that mark for the club (Costa, Drogba, Anelka, Hasselbaink the other four — stellar company).
Unfortunately, Abraham’s form peaked early and faded late, and recency bias dominates the narrative. But a nearly 1-in-2 return in the league (15-in-34) is nothing to sneeze at. It was even good enough to activate the performance-based incentives in his contract while extending it by a year to 2023, thus also reducing the pressure in those negotiations.
Just looking at those numbers, it’s hard to argue that this wasn’t at least a good season for a 22-year-old striker tasked with leading the line for Chelsea. It’s certainly good enough to build on for even better returns next season.
“It’s been a phenomenal season for myself and the lads. I couldn’t have asked for a better season. I have had a few niggles here and there, but I have come out stronger and now I have to build myself for next season and start well and end well. That’s my aim.
“I have to raise my bar and go again.”
As we saw in the matches against Bayern Munich, there’s certainly plenty of room to improve, individually and collectively as well.
Abraham started the second leg, unlike the first, and eventually did get on the scoresheet for Chelsea’s one and only goal over the two games. Meanwhile, Tammy’s opposite number, Robert Lewandowski, had a hand in every single goal for Bayern as well (3 goals, 4 assists).
For a man fond of setting targets, there’s the ultimate ambition.
“For me he’s the best striker in the world right now, and that’s the level I’ve got to get to and better. That’s what I aspire to be. Coming here and playing against him is a great learning curve, a great experience for me. Going into next season and onwards I’ve got to build myself to get to those high levels.”
Action will have to follow talk, as always. With Timo Werner coming in and Olivier Giroud proving over the past few months that there’s more than enough juice left in the tank, Abraham will have to continue working hard and improving every day to keep earning his minutes from Frank Lampard.
He knows that of course, and is ready to take on that challenge, just as he took on the challenge of breaking the “Curse of the No.9 Shirt” this season.
“This is Chelsea Football Club. There is always going to be high standards and competition. I have to fight for my spot, it’s never going to come easy. It never came easy at the start of this season, but I worked my way into the team and that’s what I have got to keep doing.”
-Tammy Abraham; source: Chelsea FC
Right words, right thoughts. Right action?