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Usage and the striker myth


TorontoChelsea

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Chelsea's, as it is, set-up right now simply cannot have a dominant striker. That’s not to say that we can’t improve at the position. we certainly can, just that with our current squad and style, we can’t have a top-scoring striker. Robin Van Persie coming to Chelsea would certainly help enormously, but it would not result in an extra 30 or even 15 goals for Chelsea. If you look at Manchester City and Manchester United, the top shooters on both squads last season were strikers. United, in particular, played a possession game to key up their strikers. Van Persie had 141 shots, Rooney had 86 and nobody else even had 50. United were set up entirely to feed their strikers. Ashley Young led United with the most shots for a non-striker with 27. City was more equitable in their distribution but it was still favouring strikers. Tevez, Aguero, and Dzeko had many more shots than anyone. Chelsea distributes the shots much differently. Lampard led Chelsea with 80 shots. Mata had 70, Torres 68, Hazard 63, and Luiz 56. Now, the good news is that Lampard and Mata were our most accurate shooters so you want them taking the most shots, the bad news is that it leaves few extra shots for a new striker who wants to take more shots. Especially, when you add in the new players, De Bruyne and Schurle who both like to shoot. This is why I understand Chelsea’s pursuit of Rooney, of someone who can play off the ball and set up shots as well as take his own. It is also why someone like Falcao would never have worked at Chelsea like he did with Atletico Madrid.

This brings me to my second point about usage. You want Mata, Hazard, Oscar, De Bruyne, Schurrle, and a new striker and so on to be dominant offensive forces? It’s not really possible. Teams, even top teams will have a few goal scorers and few assist guys. There aren't top teams with 5 guys with 15 goals and 5 guys with 10 assists. Even Barcelona, for all their ridiculous number of goals, only had 3 players with 10 goals and 3 with 10 assists. Real Madrid had the same. Fundamentally, you need to decide who you want to run your offence and who you want taking your shots and how you want your other players to compliment them. (This is what I liked about City’s purchases this year. They mostly bought players to compliment the excellent core they already had.) It will be interesting to see how that develops this year and who becomes or remains Chelsea’s maestros and scorers.

Better Premier League teams will generally take around 14-18 shots a game. Chelsea, last season took 16.5 shots a game, which was 5th most in the league. Let’s say Chelsea get roughly the same number of shots a game this season. How are you distributing those shots? (Keep in mind that many of the shots will also come from defenders on corners and from free kicks) Schurrle and De Bruyne were the #1 and #8 shooters in the Bundesliga last season, averaging 6.3 shots a game. Those shots simply are not available at Chelsea even without adding a striker without severely reducing the number of shots taken by other players. (One thing is for sure. Luiz needs to shoot much much less. 2 goals on 56 shots means someone else should be shooting instead) Ultimately though, there is no easy answer and this might be Mourinho’s most difficult task. Having to juggle a group of talented players who all want the ball and combining the right group of players to bring out the most efficient and ruthless side.

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Chelsea's, as it is, set-up right now simply cannot have a dominant striker. That’s not to say that we can’t improve at the position. we certainly can, just that with our current squad and style, we can’t have a top-scoring striker. Robin Van Persie coming to Chelsea would certainly help enormously, but it would not result in an extra 30 or even 15 goals for Chelsea. If you look at Manchester City and Manchester United, the top shooters on both squads last season were strikers. United, in particular, played a possession game to key up their strikers. Van Persie had 141 shots, Rooney had 86 and nobody else even had 50. United were set up entirely to feed their strikers. Ashley Young led United with the most shots for a non-striker with 27. City was more equitable in their distribution but it was still favouring strikers. Tevez, Aguero, and Dzeko had many more shots than anyone. Chelsea distributes the shots much differently. Lampard led Chelsea with 80 shots. Mata had 70, Torres 68, Hazard 63, and Luiz 56. Now, the good news is that Lampard and Mata were our most accurate shooters so you want them taking the most shots, the bad news is that it leaves few extra shots for a new striker who wants to take more shots. Especially, when you add in the new players, De Bruyne and Schurle who both like to shoot. This is why I understand Chelsea’s pursuit of Rooney, of someone who can play off the ball and set up shots as well as take his own. It is also why someone like Falcao would never have worked at Chelsea like he did with Atletico Madrid.

This brings me to my second point about usage. You want Mata, Hazard, Oscar, De Bruyne, Schurrle, and a new striker and so on to be dominant offensive forces? It’s not really possible. Teams, even top teams will have a few goal scorers and few assist guys. There aren't top teams with 5 guys with 15 goals and 5 guys with 10 assists. Even Barcelona, for all their ridiculous number of goals, only had 3 players with 10 goals and 3 with 10 assists. Real Madrid had the same. Fundamentally, you need to decide who you want to run your offence and who you want taking your shots and how you want your other players to compliment them. (This is what I liked about City’s purchases this year. They mostly bought players to compliment the excellent core they already had.) It will be interesting to see how that develops this year and who becomes or remains Chelsea’s maestros and scorers.

Better Premier League teams will generally take around 14-18 shots a game. Chelsea, last season took 16.5 shots a game, which was 5th most in the league. Let’s say Chelsea get roughly the same number of shots a game this season. How are you distributing those shots? (Keep in mind that many of the shots will also come from defenders on corners and from free kicks) Schurrle and De Bruyne were the #1 and #8 shooters in the Bundesliga last season, averaging 6.3 shots a game. Those shots simply are not available at Chelsea even without adding a striker without severely reducing the number of shots taken by other players. (One thing is for sure. Luiz needs to shoot much much less. 2 goals on 56 shots means someone else should be shooting instead) Ultimately though, there is no easy answer and this might be Mourinho’s most difficult task. Having to juggle a group of talented players who all want the ball and combining the right group of players to bring out the most efficient and ruthless side.

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This is why I found it hilarious when people were criticizing Torres' latest performance for the lack of shot taking. If ever there was a high-profile striker unsuited to Chelsea's current set-up it would be him, but he tried his best to link up play with the three behind him. At least he did in that in the first half, before they became worn out from fatigue.

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Good points, still not enough to defend the poor Torres.

I understand it is difficult for him to change his game at his age, but to completely loose faith and appetite for goals isnt acceptable.van Persie ( Because he is the N°1 now ) would do things differently if he was here, he would come to the middle, make few passes and make himself a way for a shooting possibility and I'm sure he'd be well served by Juan or Eden, when van Persie shoots it is for scoring, Torres shoots to shoot.Van Persie knows he isnt the pivot type of players somes says we need, he is the complete striker who makes goals by himself most of the time and that is what we need.Torres is camping infront of the 4 defenders waiting for an impeccable pass.

We need a Rooney, a Suarez or even a Van Persie as example because such players does not rely on others to make their goals, they will always try to find space and be prepared to receive the ball and prepared to shoot.Torres takes his time, control, make one touch or two, and then try to shoot.The hunger to score must always be present for a striker, it leads him to better movements and even better agility infront of goal, does Torres even care about the game at times ?

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Jesus, how are people reading this as a defense of Torres? He's been very poor and we can do better BUT you can't have a team with Mata, Oscar, Hazard, Schurrle, De Bruyne, and Lampard and also have a striker scoring goals all the time. In order to be a top striker, you need to be shooting a lot. Suarez took 5.7 shots a game last season. Van Persie, 3.7. Torres took 1.9. Those extra shots aren't available on Chelsea. Who do you want to take the 2-4 extra shots a game off of? Our leading shooters were Mata and Lampard but they were also our best shooters and scorer. You want to take them off Hazard and Oscar? And that's without De Bruyne and Schurrle even taking any shots either. You don't add a 20 goal scorer to your team and think "hey, we're going to get another 20 goals" because you're not. Chelsea made a decision to load up on aggressive attacking midfielders. You can't have that team and also a team with a dominant striker, it just doesn't work. There are only so many goals to go around. Chelsea had a record breaking year 09-10 and they still only had 4 players score more than 5 goals and 4 players get more than 5 assists. The best striker for us IMO would be someone adept at holding the ball up and linking up well with our midfielders and is able to be an efficient scorer..

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the striker was more of a cushion pinging the ball back to the attacking mids. often Oscar ran past Torres and not just for the goal - also for the reverse flick from Torres etc

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Jesus, how are people reading this as a defense of Torres? He's been very poor and we can do better BUT you can't have a team with Mata, Oscar, Hazard, Schurrle, De Bruyne, and Lampard and also have a striker scoring goals all the time. In order to be a top striker, you need to be shooting a lot. Suarez took 5.7 shots a game last season. Van Persie, 3.7. Torres took 1.9. Those extra shots aren't available on Chelsea. Who do you want to take the 2-4 extra shots a game off of? Our leading shooters were Mata and Lampard but they were also our best shooters and scorer. You want to take them off Hazard and Oscar? And that's without De Bruyne and Schurrle even taking any shots either. You don't add a 20 goal scorer to your team and think "hey, we're going to get another 20 goals" because you're not. Chelsea made a decision to load up on aggressive attacking midfielders. You can't have that team and also a team with a dominant striker, it just doesn't work. There are only so many goals to go around. Chelsea had a record breaking year 09-10 and they still only had 4 players score more than 5 goals and 4 players get more than 5 assists. The best striker for us IMO would be someone adept at holding the ball up and linking up well with our midfielders and is able to be an efficient scorer..

FYI, I didn't want to turn this into Torres discussion. I just wanted to bring up the argument regarding the shots distribution to highlight how neither of our current strikers (especially Torres) can thrive in the current setup.

Great article, btw.

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