Chelsea signed Gonzalo Higuain last month on a loan deal from Juventus. Maurizio Sarri has been reunited with the Argentine striker, as he looks to revive his side’s fortunes. After a stunning start to the season, the Blues have faltered considerably. Higuain will hope to provide a spark in the Chelsea attack, and better the efforts of Olivier Giroud and Alvaro Morata in the process. In what directions do the early signs point? Here’s a statistical analysis that looks into the same.
Chelsea need to take their chances
First and foremost, Chelsea need a good striker. Generally speaking, they need good finishing all around, and the striker is top of the list in that aspect. Chelsea have created 12.7 chances per game this season, and only Manchester City have created more.
But in the ‘goals scored’ column, Chelsea are fifth. The Blues have bettered their expected goals tally by just 0.67. In comparison, fellow top-four contenders Arsenal have bettered theirs by 10.55. Chelsea clearly need to put their chances to better use. Enter Gonzalo?
Higuain has experienced an eye-catching start to life in the Premier League. Chelsea were trounced by Bournemouth 4-0 in his debut before they thrashed Huddersfield 5-0 at the Bridge. That was followed by the 6-0 humiliation at the hands of Manchester City.
That three-game roller-coaster is not an ideal sample space, but it provides enough metrics nonetheless. Higuain has scored twice in the trio of games, but both of those came against the lowly Terriers. Delving into the underlying statistics will be more fruitful.
Comparison with Giroud and Morata
Shots are the unquestionably the most vital metric for a striker. Higuain has taken 3.7 shots per 90 minutes. In comparison, Morata and Giroud managed 3.1 and 2.5 respectively. In terms of shot quality, Morata leads the pack with 0.4 expected goals per game. Higuain’s tally is 0.31, and Giroud is last with 0.13.
It’s been just three games, but Higuain is streets ahead in terms of converting chances. The Argentine betters his expected goals by 115%. Both Giroud and Morata underperform their xG – Giroud by 59% and Morata by 22%. Higuain’s sky-high percentage is bound to drop, but arguably won’t reach the depths of his predecessors.
Coming to creativity, Higuian compares favourably. Giroud leads with 1.7 chances created per 90 minutes, followed by Higuain on 1.1 and Morata on 0.8. Higuain also completes the most passes per game, which indicates that his buildup play can be productive.
What can Chelsea expect from Higuain?
Based on his brief tenure in London, Higuain already seems like an upgrade. He looks like a more potent goal threat, and he can link up with the likes of Eden Hazard. His first goal against Huddersfield showed his sharp movement and finishing. His second was a blinder, which highlighted his individual ability. It’s early days, but Higuain’s recruitment could prove to be a shrewd one for Sarri.
Morata has already departed to Madrid, and Giroud lookes resigned for a role on the bench. Higuain seems set to take up the starting sport, at least till the summer. Chelsea need to get their season back on track as soon as possible, and if their ‘number 9’ can start scoring, it will be a huge help.