Oscar enjoyed a very good debut season for Chelsea, featuring in most of their games in what was a gruelling campaign for himself and the club. The young Brazilian played a huge amount of football, making 64 appearances for Chelsea alone. Oscar though has returned for pre-season with Chelsea and has looked incredibly impressive in his first two pre-season games under new manager Jose Mourinho. So how important is he to Chelsea’s hopes next season?
How did Oscar do last season?
Oscar did score an impressive 12 goals in his debut season for Chelsea but only 4 of those came in the Premier League, with six of his goals coming in Europe. This is where Oscar was weakest domestically managing to convert just over 8% of his chances. He also managed to get just 43% of his shots on target:
As demonstrated with his peach of a strike against Inter Milan in pre-season, it is clear that he can score fine goals and thus he should improve on his Premier League productivity next season and get closer to ten goals. If he can do that then he can have a very, very good year for Chelsea.
It is not just goals he brings though, with his defensive work making him very effective in transitions, that, and his ability to break with the ball – last season he completed 1.1 dribbles per game. Interestingly he completed more dribbles per game than even Juan Mata. Oscar is a different type of player to Mata and Hazard and probably most wanted to play as the no.10, a role that was very much Mata’s last season.
Interestingly, Oscar was Chelsea’s third top tackler last season with 2.5 successful tackles per game, with only Ramires and Cesar Azpilicueta completing more. This is a very impressive statistic for a naturally attack-minded midfield player who made less starts than many of those midfielders he out-tackled. With his high number of tackles and 2 defensive actions per game (Hazard and Mata completed just one defensive contribution per game) on top of that, it shows what a hard working player Oscar is, one who tracks back and helps out the two defensive midfielders.
What role will he play this year under Mourinho?
In pre-season Mourinho has adopted a variant of a 4-2-1-3. Last year Oscar was often used on the right of the three attacking midfielders but this year Mourinho has said he wants to use Juan Mata on the right of a front three, moving him away from the no.10 spot he held last year. As a result Oscar will probably (as he has been in pre-season) be used as the attacking midfielder behind the striker. For Oscar this is potentially his best position as he can effectively get back and win the ball, as well as then break out and link up with Hazard and Mata. On a number of occasions last season he effectively sat on the opposition defensive midfielder (e.g. Mikel Arteta and Andrea Pirlo) in order to halt their influence. This is something he could regularly do if he is deployed as a no.10 given his strong defensive work combined with his ability to get forward.
Oscar’s debut season was a very good one, but he can improve on aspects of his play, notably becoming more clinical in the Premier League, where he has squandered good chances too often. Having been much better in front of goal in Europe last year it is clear that he does have the potential to net a large number of goals from midfield, something that hopefully Chelsea fans will see him do next year. His strong defensive contribution, combined with his ability to influence the attacking side of the game, means that he can become a real mainstay in Mourinho’s side, as Mourinho is known to appreciate midfielders who track back and put in a good shift. If he can step up his performances a gear or two then this could be a real breakthrough year for Oscar, who could be at the heart of any Chelsea success in 2013-14.