Football Features

Chelsea stats: Are mistakes or misfortune causing poor defensive record?

By Will Evans | Twenty3

Published: 16:52, 10 April 2024

Chelsea continue to be dogged by defensive deficiencies.

The Blues were looking to build on a morale-boosting 4-3 victory over Manchester United on Sunday, but could only draw 2-2 with strugglers Sheffield United at Bramall Lane.

Mauricio Pochettino’s side were once again undone by frailties at the back, and their goals against tally now stands at 52 for the campaign – inside the Premier League’s bottom half.

So, how can the West Londoners improve their defensive resilience?

Clean sheet conundrum

Chelsea secured their fifth top-flight clean sheet of the season against Fulham back in January, but it has been downhill ever since.

They have now gone nine matches without registering a Premier League shut-out, during which time they have conceded four goals on two occasions – and let in two against relegation-battlers Brentford, Burnley and most recently Sheffield United.

Breaking that unwanted streak will bring some much-needed confidence to the team’s back line.

Underperformance

A degree of misfortune is perhaps partially to blame for Chelsea’s defensive record.

After all, the Blues have conceded 21 goals across the aforementioned nine games, but only have an xGA of 15.22.

That applies across the season as a whole, too, with their 45.38 expected goals against some way below their actual tally of 52 conceded.

Pochettino will hope to see some variance between now and the end of the campaign, as Chelsea try to claw themselves into a European qualification spot.

Cut out mistakes

Cutting out mistakes will be key to Chelsea’s hopes of tightening up in defence.

They have made 19 errors leading to a shot or goal this season, more than every other Premier League club.

Veteran Thiago Silva is the primary culprit on this front – only two players have made more errors leading to shots or goals than his four to date.

Lavia key to solving Chelsea’s defensive issues?

Chelsea are aggressive pressers and only allow 10.53 passes per defensive action (PPDA), which puts them inside the Premier League’s top five sides for that metric.

However, the Blues’ defence can often be left exposed when teams play through their press, primarily because they lack an athletic, defensive-minded central midfielder to shield the back line effectively.

That role may well be handed to £58million summer signing Romeo Lavia next season, but injury issues have seen the 20-year-old make just one Premier League appearance this term.

His eye-catching 114 possession regains in the middle third for Southampton in 2022/23 certainly hint at how he will improve Chelsea’s engine room in their long term – even if he is unable to contribute to this year’s push for continental qualification.