With just SIX goals since November and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang frozen out, Chelsea are paying the price for not signing a goalscorer despite spending more than £600m this season… a lack of potency is crippling Graham Potter’s side in dismal run of form
- Chelsea have scored just 23 goals in 24 Premier League games and sit in 10th
- Despite spending more than £600m this season, the Blues lack a goalscorer
- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been sidelined, with Kai Havertz chosen up-top
Things are not well at Stamford Bridge. Not only is Graham Potter under severe pressure following two wins in 15 Premier League games, but Chelsea are facing a chronic goal shortage.
During their dismal run of form, the Blues have scored six goals in 16 matches since the start of November.
In the same period, Manchester United have scored 50 in all competitions, while even Wolves – who netted just seven in their first 15 league games – are outscoring Chelsea.
Potter’s side never looked like finding the net in Sunday’s dreadful 2-0 derby defeat to Tottenham, despite enjoying 59 per cent possession.
The data shows a more positive outlook with Chelsea’s xG in the Premier League at 31.16 over 24 games, meaning they average an xG of 1.3 goals per game.
Chelsea have won two of their last 15 Premier League games and scored just six in 16 matches
Their struggles in front of goal have led to severe pressure being put on on boss Graham Potter
Despite spending more than £600m since taking over, the Todd Boehly (left) led ownership group haven’t been able to find a prolific out-and-out goalscorer to positively impact the side
However, they are underperforming this by 8.16 goals with the Blues having netted just 23 times in 24 league games.
Although they have spent more than £600m this season under the Todd Boehly-led regime, the fact they don’t have an out-and-out striker or goalscorer is a damning indictment to their recruitment.
Kai Havertz has been deployed as Chelsea’s front-man in recent months, but the German is yet to fully convince in that position despite some important contributions.
The picture is better at the other end of the pitch with Chelsea having the third best defence in the league, conceding just 25 in 24 games – with only Arsenal and Newcastle obtaining a superior defensive record.
This demonstrates they have the basis of a solid team, but the inability to find the back of the net is having a profound impact on their progress and has led to Potter coming under serious scrutiny in his role.
In attack, their return of 23 goals is more than only Nottingham Forest, Crystal Palace, Wolves, Everton, Southampton and Bournemouth – six teams who are all in the relegation battle.
A quick look at the Blues’ bloated squad – which consists of more than 30 senior players – shows there is a significant imbalance, with several attacking midfielders.
Christian Pulisic, Mason Mount, Hakim Ziyech, Conor Gallagher, Kai Havertz, Mykhailo Mudryk, Raheem Sterling, Joao Felix and Noni Madueke are all players who are best served in roles behind a striker or wide.
In the Boehly-inspired £323m January splurge, Madueke, Felix and Mudryk all pitched up at Stamford Bridge for varying amounts, while Brazilian wonderkid Andrey Santos – who is yet to join up properly with the Chelsea squad – is another attacking midfielder.
While it is never easy to sign a striker, let alone in January, this could be viewed as a poor oversight from the Blues’ recruitment team to not address an area of weakness in the squad.
Chelsea have continued to be linked with RB Leipzig and Croatia star Josko Gvardiol – and while the 21-year-old is undoubtedly a major talent – spending a reported £70m fee on a defender when they are already well-stocked and have urgent needs elsewhere seems a waste of crucial resources.
Potter’s side are being significantly hindered in games, with some good performances on occasions over recent weeks, but the Blues have been guilty of being profligate in front of goal.
In their recent Premier League outing at West Ham, Chelsea dominated the first half an hour of the match and despite going ahead through Joao Felix, they couldn’t add to their lead, faded, and ended up drawing 1-1.
In their 1-0 defeat to Southampton, the Blues had an xG of 1.62 as opposed to Southampton’s 0.62, while during their first leg tie with Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League last-16, Chelsea had 22 shots and an xG of 2.18, but yet again failed to score.
Kai Havertz has failed to convince that he is the answer when he leads the line for the Blues
Despite bringing in Joao Felix (L) and Mykhailo Mudryk (R), Chelsea are still struggling to score
Chelsea are languishing in 10th place, having scored just 23 goals across 24 league games
Much has been made regarding Potter’s decision to exile Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang, but there are question marks over whether signing an ageing striker – who had lost his way at Arsenal before being released due to several disciplinary misdemeanours – was ever the answer for Chelsea.
The confused nature of his arrival was only added to by Thomas Tuchel – who brought in the forward – being sacked after they had just one game together.
When he joined on an initial two-year-deal, Boehly had said: ‘Pierre-Emerick is an elite striker with a proven track record in the Premier League and his arrival strengthens our squad, giving us new attacking options.
‘We are thrilled to have Pierre-Emerick on board with us in the new era at Chelsea and we’re really looking forward to working with him.’
That ‘new era’ doesn’t appear to have turned out very well so far, with the former Gabon international playing just 131 minutes of football in all competitions since the World Cup despite being the only fit senior striker available.
Aubameyang now looks set to be the latest to receive the ‘Chelsea striker curse’ that has seen big-name signings such as Fernando Torres, Andriy Shevchenko, Gonzalo Higuain, Alvaro Morata, Radamel Falcao and Romelu Lukaku all struggle to make an impact at Stamford Bridge despite prolific records elsewhere.
This raises the question of what Potter can do. After returning to the fold for the final seven minutes on Sunday, perhaps Aubameyang can be re-integrated fully and thrive with the plethora of quality, but often inconsistent forward players around him.
There is also Lukaku – the club’s record signing for £97.5m when he arrived last summer – but the Belgian struggled and was loaned out to Inter Milan this season.
The forward hasn’t had his desired impact for the Italian giants either, scoring just four times in all competitions after struggling with injury.
However, he has improved in recent weeks and netted the winner in their Champions League last-16 tie against Porto last week and – while he was perhaps rightfully criticised for his below par performances and conduct at Chelsea last year – he did still manage to score 15 goals in all competitions.
Lukaku also still has over three years to run on the five-year-deal he signed upon re-joining Chelsea in 2021.
While he is not widely popular with Blues supporters, the forward is 20th in the all-time list of Premier League goalscorers with 121 goals.
As every passing week of Chelsea’s attacking struggles goes by, the calls for Lukaku to return only increase, with BT Sport pundits Rio Ferdinand and Owen Hargreaves urging the Blues to ‘give him a chance’ next season.
In reality, the aggressive spending of Chelsea’s owners – which is expected to continue with attacker Christopher Nkunku already set to arrive for £63m – may be the way out of this, with world class strikers Victor Osimhen and Harry Kane reportedly interesting a host of top clubs this summer.
Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang is a natural goalscorer, but he has been sidelined by Potter
Romelu Lukaku is on loan at Inter Milan after struggling upon his return to Chelsea last summer
However, the likelihood of Kane going to Chelsea is next-to-none, and Osimhen is likely to have the pick of several sides amid his devastating form for Napoli this year.
The Blues’ unlikelihood of qualifying for the Champions League is likely to impact on the quality of forward they can bring in.
It is no doubt they are in a serious rut and although you’d expect their attacking data to eventually be matched in terms of output, it is a damning indictment of Chelsea’s recruitment that they are undergoing such struggles in front of goal.
Whatever happens, Potter needs to find a solution fast or the pressure will eventually become too much for the club to keep their faith in him.
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