Last night, Maurizio Sarri chose to rest Jorginho from Chelsea’s 3-0 win over Malmo in the Europa League. The victory will have ruined a few accumulator tips as many felt an upset could have been on the cards.
After the match, Sarri claimed that Chelsea’s slow start showed how important Jorginho is to the side.
Jorginho has recently come in for a lot of criticism in the media, with the suggestion being that he is guilty of slowing Chelsea’s game down, that he passes sideways too often and that his mere presence has affected the game of N’Golo Kante who traditionally plays in a much deeper position.
With Sarri’s claim last night, I thought it might be worth comparing Chelsea’s passing statistics last night against their averages this season.
Let’s find out whether they actually performed better with the ball with Jorginho in the starting XI.
Last night without Jorginho
That means nothing at this stage, right?
Chelsea on average this season
OK, now we have something we can actually compare against.
Don’t forget; Sarri claimed that Chelsea were worse off with Jorginho being rested.
You can see for yourselves straight away that the statistics don’t actually back that statement up.
For example, last night Chelsea completed more passes at a higher % than on average this season.
In a previous piece, I’ve highlighted that completed passes don’t mean much unless they are going somewhere, so to note that they completed more progressive passes last night than on average is very interesting.
Jorginho has been criticised in the media for playing lots of lateral passes and not moving the ball forwards; well last night Chelsea actually played and completed more lateral passes than on average this season.
Last night, Chelsea played fewer forward passes than they have on average this season.
So, what does all this tell us?
Well, it is a bit of a mixed bag.
Last night, Chelsea completed more passes at a higher % than their average this season without their metronome, Jorginho.
Despite Jorginho being labelled as the reason Chelsea are not playing the ball forward enough, Chelsea actually played more lateral passes last night than normal without him on the field (Jorginho came on the for last 14 minutes).
But, Chelsea did play more progressive passes last night; suggesting that there was a little more purpose in their game than usual.
How much of that can be down to the fact they were at home against a weaker opposition?
That is hard to quantify exactly. The fact that it was a knockout match in European competition has to suggest that although Chelsea were favourites, Malmo were not the worst opposition they will face this season.
Was Sarri correct to say that they missed Jorginho last night?
The stats could take you either way on this one.
For me, the fact that Chelsea completed more progressive passes than on average suggests that Sarri’s claim that Chelsea missed Jorginho to pass the ball through the lines doesn’t tally. But, we are talking fine margins here as Chelsea’s passing as more lateral in general than when Jorginho is on the pitch.
Statistics, eh? Sometimes they make things even less clear.