The London club were in the race for gold with Manchester City and Liverpool in the 2021/22 Premier League until the 15th round, but then fell further and further behind the two big guns. From then until the end of the season, they remained in third place. In the 15th round, they suffered a 3-2 defeat at West Ham in a very tight game and managed to win only two of their subsequent eight league games. At the end, they were in danger of not qualifying for the Champions League, but finished the season with 74 points, with 76 goals scored and 33 conceded managing to hold on to third place, ahead of Spurs and Arsenal.
Mason Mount was by far Chelsea’s most productive player in the 2021/22 season, both in terms of goals (11) and assists (10). Lukaku, who since then moved back to Inter on loan for next season, and Havertz both scored 8 goals. In terms of assists, the young Reece James was the second most prolific with 9 assists (plus scoring 5 goals) and has been very important in both defence and attack this season.
The defenders themselves scored 22 goals (29% of the team’s goals) in total, making them the best defensive unit in the league in terms of goals scored, both proportionally and overall. This highlights both the crucial role of the defence in the attacking play and the lack of a goal-scoring striker this season.
With neither Werner nor Lukaku living up to expectations, Tuchel will be forced to sign at least one top-class striker in the summer, especially as Lukaku has already moved on to Inter and Werner is also among the possible departures. The first attacker signed by the Blues is Sterling from Manchester City, and it is an open secret that the new owner has a huge admiration for Cristiano Ronaldo.
Let’s take a look at a few defensive indicators by using per 90 numbers. They take into account the playing minutes as well making sure that players’ performances are a lot more comparable.
Andreas Christensen, who since signed for Barcelona as a free agent, won most of the aerial duels, nearly three every 90 minutes. He is followed by Ruben Loftus- Cheek with 2.8 on average, and then the French centre-back Malang Sarr (playing only 598 minutes), who won 2.6 aerial duels on 90 minutes.
Most interceptions were made by the Brazilian veteran Thiago Silva, at 5.6 per 90 minutes. Saúl Niguez is the second with 5.4 (on the pitch for only 530 minutes) and Marcos Alonso is the third with 5. Alonso’s place in the starting line-up was in question, but after Ben Chilwell’s injury, the Spanish winger has not disappointed this season. I would also like to highlight the performance of 22-year-old Englishman Trevoh Chalobah, who has been getting more and more chances, averaging 4.9 interceptions and winning 2.2 aerial duels per 90 minutes, the fourth most in the team.
Moving on to the offensive part, we can see that Reece James averaged 0.4 assists. Thiago Silva proved to be the best in terms of progressive passes (10.8 per 90 minutes), although Rüdiger was not far behind with 10.6. Jorginho averaged 7.8 passes into the attacking third, topping the list, followed by the two central-defenders - Thiago Silva 7.7 and Rüdiger 7.6 / 90 min.
Looking at the successful key passes, the top three finishers are all home-grown players. Top of the list is Callum Hudson-Odoi (0.97/90 mins), still only 21 years old. The second is Reece James (0.89/90 mins) and the third is Mason Mount (0.88/90 mins). Hudson-Odoi is also in first place in terms of progressive runs made (4.8/90 mins). The English winger has yet to perform well enough to be considered a solid starter by any manager (he has only played 1019 minutes this season), despite a couple of years of serious interest from Bayern Munich.
Antonio Rüdiger, who left for Real Madrid, is top of the list in several aggregate indicators. He is credited with the most progressive passes (389), the most progressive runs (69), the most successful passes into the attacking third (276) and the most minutes played after Eduard Mendy (3291 minutes). Whoever replaces him in the summer will certainly struggle to produce the quality of play that the German midfielder has managed this season.
It is also worth highlighting the performance of one of the club’s homegrown players Mason Mount, who scored the most goals (11) and provided the most assists (10) in the 2021/22 campaign. He also had the most touches inside the opposition box (128), made the most successful key passes (25) and also tops the charts in terms of xG (expected goals) and xA (expected assists). Many compare him to the club’s great legend Frank Lampard and see him as a worthy successor.
The xT (expected threat) measure shows how a player increases the chance of building an attack/scoring a goal with each game situation. The xT per 90 minutes highlights the important role the centre-backs played (especially Thiago Silva and Antonio Rüdiger) The most likely replacements for the German are Naploli’s Senegalese Kalidou Koulibaly and the former Chelsea player Nathan Aké. Thiago Silva, despite his age (37), is at the top of the xT per 90 table, has played almost flawlessly and has already said in several interviews that he is very comfortable in the team. The question is how many more years the Brazilian centre-back can keep up this level.
When comparing actual and expected goals, it is clear that Mason Mount outperformed according his xG indicator, while the other attackers - except for Werner – finished their chances well. Werner still hasn’t found his scoring boots and his efficiency was the worst of the season. With an xG of 7.4, he has only scored 4 goals.
There can also be a difference between a goal and a goal depending on how much they contributed to the team’s final result in a given match. Even though Ziyech didn’t get many chances, he scored 4 goals and all 4 of them were quite important for his team, as these 4 goals were worth a total of 10 points for Chelsea. Marcos Alonso’s goals also came at the best time, earning 8 points for the Blues with his 4 goals. The home top scorer, Mount, scored 11 goals for 7 points and Lukaku’s 8 goals were worth 8 points for the team.
Based on the overall performance during the season, third place was a realistic result, as the team performed very inconsistently. No one had a chance to catch up with the two leaders, who finished 20 points ahead of Chelsea. The performances of Mason Mount and Reece James last season should be encouraging, but the departures of Rüdiger and Christensen constitute a huge loss.
Thomas Tuchel and the new management will have a tough job this summer if they aim to build a team in contention for the league title. However, looking at the reinforcements made by the other teams, it could be tough to finish in the top four.
(Cover photo: www.football365.com )