The start of the Premier League season has been very serene for Maurizio Sarri and his Chelsea team. Five wins from five sees the Blues sitting comfortably at the top of the league. With his swashbuckling style of play, this early season form has Chelsea fans dreaming of a 6th Premier League title win. The lingering question hanging over this team however is: ‘is this style of play sustainable?’ I will look at how Chelsea’s stats so far this term compare with Antonio Conte’s title-winning team and whether, although with completely different styles of play, there are any positive signs about how this season will end for Chelsea.
Currently, in the Premier League, Chelsea are scoring just under 3 goals a game. Although this seems like an unsustainable trend for the rest of season, we must bear in mind that champions Manchester City finished the season last year with the exact same value that Chelsea have now. Chelsea have conceded 4 goals in 5 games, meaning they have conceded just under a goal a game. A trademark of Sarri’s football revolution at the Bridge is to keep possession of the ball, this has seen Chelsea keep the ball on average 65.8% of the time while also boasting an extremely positive pass accuracy of 89%. Considering the fact they have also made the most passes in the league so far, this is a striking statistic. This stat is backed up by the fact that Chelsea have the highest short pass accuracy in the league, showing that ‘Sarriball’ is working, with its quick and short passes opening up the pitch. Finally, Chelsea are having 18.8 shots per game, beaten only by Manchester City who are having 23.8 shots.
Comparison with Conte’s first 5 games
By Antonio Conte’s fifth game in charge in the 2016/2017 season, Chelsea had won three, drawn one and then finally lost one to Liverpool at Stamford Bridge. At that point in time, Chelsea had scored 10 goals in the league, meaning a rate of 2 goals per game. The team was having 12.6 shots per game which is a 32.9% decrease on the current shot rate. During Conte’s first five games, possession was also down compared to his replacement as Conte’s Chelsea only had the ball on average 55% of the time. As we know, Chelsea did go on to win the title despite the stats of the initial games being less impressive when compared with today’s squad. The real reason Chelsea managed to win the league from this point was because of Conte’s formation change to a 3-4-2-1 system which led to a 13 game winning streak.
Comparison with the 13 Game winning streak
Promisingly for Chelsea this season, Sarri’s current Chelsea incarnation is still favourable when compared to the Conte’s formidable side in the winning run. That 13 game streak saw the Blues score at a rate of 2.46 goals per game. Chelsea’s average possession during that time was only 52% which is 13.8 percentage points lower than the current team. Passing accuracy was slightly lower in the 16/17 season at 84%. Where Conte’s Chelsea team really excelled was in the number of goals conceded. During their club-record winning streak Chelsea only conceded 4 goals in 13 games, this resulted in an impressive statistic of conceding 0.31 goals per game, which is markedly better than the current Chelsea side who are conceding at a rate which is 158% higher. Hopefully, this figure will become more appealing as the season rolls on.
Looking at these stats, it’s clear to see that Sarri has the foundations for a title-winning tilt this year. Offensively, Chelsea have never looked as good. The challenge for this side will be to better Man City’s stats which are currently slightly better but most importantly, to sort out their defence and concede less goals.