EPL 2016/17: The numbers that validate Chelsea's position on top of the table
Thierry Nyann looks at the points, goals and clean sheets that make up Chelsea's table-topping numbers.
Chelsea are top of the Premier League table after 13 games and have played some of the best football in the top flight this season. So good have they become in the last seven games, it’s easy to forget the slump they were in last season under Jose Mourinho.
They have recovered from that, plus the little blip they suffered early this season, conceding goals for fun and getting worse off each match day. The results mounted huge pressure on Antonio Conte, who was brought in to turn the situation around for the Blues.
When that final goal went in at Arsenal, beautifully bundled off the turf into the back of the net by Mesut Ozil, one could only guess what Conte might have thought to himself.
However, the former Juventus tactician has turned things around for good at Stamford Bridge and it’s appropriate for the Chelsea fans to sing his name loudly during games these days. Without the pressure of playing mid-week UEFA Champions League football, Chelsea are delivering some of the best football that has propelled them to the top of the table.
But even they have critics. Former Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp doubts Chelsea’s credentials, despite their crucial win against Spurs on Saturday.
"They have got fantastic talent, I love watching Eden Hazard play and Diego Costa has been outstanding, but I'm still not sure that all around that is a team that will win the league," Redknapp said.
Well, Harry, these are the top five numbers that prove Chelsea deserve to be at the very top of the league.
17 points better off than last season
The Chelsea side that lost games for fun and couldn’t find ways past sides like Southampton, Crystal Palace and Leicester last season, are the same side enjoying good spells and dominating matches this season.
Under Jose Mourinho last season, Chelsea’s first 13 games produced 14 points as they went through their worst patch since Roman Abramovich secured the club in 2003. Exactly a year later, Chelsea have 31 points after 13 games, 17 points better off. Those 17 points are the reason Chelsea are top of the table.
10 goals conceded
When Abramovich bought Chelsea in 2003, Chelsea conceded 30 goals under Italian manager Claudio Ranieri. He was sacked for Mourinho, who delivered his words of making Chelsea special as he moulded a side allergic to conceding goals and went through the 38-game season, having conceded only 15 goals.
Like the old adage goes, “attack wins games but defence wins titles.” Following Conte’s switch to the 3-4-3, Chelsea have conceded only one goal in seven games, and a total of 10 goals the entire season. This statistic is only equalled by Tottenham; the joint meanest defence in the Premier League.
29 goals scored
For all the defensive work Chelsea’s players have put in, you’d be forgiven for discounting their potency going forward. With fewer shots on target since the shape changed towards the end of September, Chelsea have scored the most goals in the Premier League, having averaged 16.7 shots on target up to the Arsenal game compared with 15.4 after.
The effectiveness of the machine Conte has built is truly telling in these numbers, particularly in the ‘Goals for’ column on the table.
7 clean sheets
Kindly put one hand up in the air if you thought Thibaut Courtois could be this good this season, and you could just walk away with the ‘most accurate predictor’ prize after reading this piece. Chelsea have played over a dozen games this season and kept seven clean sheets, thanks to the all new defensive shape and the back-to-form Courtois.
The Belgian now has the best stats of the goalkeepers this season due to his ability to organise the back three during dangerous moments in Chelsea’s games. His nearest competitor in the league has four clean sheets.
Out of a maximum of 39 points, Chelsea have secured 31, further reason why they deserve to be at the top of the pile. The most important stat of all in football is the points, and Chelsea have it in their favour at the moment.
Conte’s men had accrued 10 points in six games before their menacing run to snatch 21 points in seven games. They sit atop the league with the kind of form that suggests they aren’t looking back. Detractors will keep crying out the questions, but as of now, Chelsea have the answers this season.
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