Football Features

Chelsea stats: The curious case of Nicolas Jackson

By Will Evans | Twenty3

Published: 17:16, 22 April 2024

Nicolas Jackson’s Chelsea campaign has often veered from the sublime to the ridiculous.

That was perfectly encapsulated by his display against Manchester City in Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final, when the Chelsea frontman’s wasteful finishing could not match his all-round positive contribution.

Nonetheless, a return of 13 goals across all competitions represents a solid output for Jackson’s maiden season in West London, raising hopes that he can iron out the inconsistencies in his game.

We shine a spotlight on the Senegal international, to get to the bottom of his puzzlingly mixed performances.

Confidence boost

Jackson enjoyed an evening to remember in Chelsea’s last Premier League outing — scoring and assisting in their 6-0 demolition of Everton at Stamford Bridge.

But he looked like a striker short of confidence against Manchester City, as the Blues’ No.15 failed to shoot after rounding goalkeeper Stefan Ortega before being unable to convert a double chance early in the second half.

No player had an xG higher than his 0.73 in that fixture, but manager Mauricio Pochettino came out in support of Jackson, saying:

“Yes, he [Jackson] is doing fantastic. He is doing an amazing job for the team, running, scoring goals, and giving assists.

“For his first season, as a young guy coming from Spain with little experience there, he is doing fantastic.”

The Argentine tactician is acutely aware that increasing his striker’s confidence could lead to greater composure in the final third.

A mixed bag

Jackson’s 10 Premier League goals this season average out at a commendable 0.41 per 90 minutes, with all of those strikes coming from open play.

And only 13 players have scored more times overall, with the former Villarreal star’s open play tally putting him inside the division’s top 10.

However, the discrepancy between Jackson’s xG of 13.89 and his 12.07 expected goals on target does paint the picture of a forward who could be more clinical.

Ollie Watkins (20), Darwin Nunez (25) and Erling Haaland (30) are also the only players to miss more big chances than his 18, though this reflects the 13-cap international’s ability to get into scoring positions — even if he can’t always convert.

Unrealistic expectations?

Chelsea had to part with £32 million to secure Jackson’s services in the summer — and that price tag may have increased expectations at Stamford Bridge.

He is still only 22 and arrived on an eight-year deal, so there is plenty of time for the Blues’ coaching staff to smooth out his rough edges.

With a commendable 18 possession regains in the final third this season, Jackson’s off-the-ball work is already earning him plaudits in SW6.

It may not be long until he adds the final string to his bow and starts consistently converting the chances that fall to him.