4 Things To Know About Demba Ba to Chelsea

It’s finally official – Demba Ba has joined Chelsea. Here are four things to know about the new Chelsea striker:

1. His finishing is world class – So many Chelsea fans have been frustrated by the finishing of current Chelsea strikers (mainly Fernando Torres). Here’s a direct comparison of Ba and Torres in the Premier League since Torres joined Chelsea and Ba joined the league initially with West Ham…

Striker Minutes played Goals Minutes / Goal
Torres 4390 14 314
Ba 5321 36 148

Sure, Torres has made more substitute appearances, but the fact that Ba has a goals per minute ratio that is 166% LESS than Torres clearly highlights the prowess of Ba in front of goal and the poor form of Torres at his time with Chelsea.

2. Ba scores in a variety of ways – Ba is right-footed but he can score in every way imaginable. Below is a comparison of the the Premier League goals scored by Ba and Torres…

Striker Right Foot Left Foot Header
Torres 9 2 2
Ba 15 5 10
Striker Penalty Free Kick Tap-In
Torres 1 0 0
Ba 3 2 1

It’s pretty remarkable to see that 64% of the goals Torres has scored for Chelsea in the Premier League have come with his right foot, whereas only 41% of Ba’s Premier League goals have come with his dominant right foot. Ba is a striker who is not only superior in the air compared to Torres (who has improved here recently) but also appears to have a stronger weaker foot than Torres for scoring goals.

3. He’s from France, NOT Senegal – Demba Ba may represent Senegal at the international level due to his heritage but he is actually from Sèvres, France. He grew up in France, playing football at the youth level for a variety of French clubs before getting his first chance with French club Rouen. To dispel whatever misconceptions some people may have he is as European as strikers come.

4. His knee “concerns” haven’t caused him to miss games – Much has been made about Demba Ba’s knee and his past failure of a medical for Stoke City before joining West Ham. Certainly he is not a model for a healthy footballer (few will dispute that) but the fact is that Demba Ba hasn’t missed serious game-time since the 2009-2010 season. His knee, or any other injury for that matter, has not been a serious concern in his 71 appearances for West Ham or Newcastle.

In short, Demba Ba on paper is a great acquisition for Chelsea. On a club with two of the best and youngest creative players in the world (Juan Mata and Eden Hazard) Chelsea don’t need a striker who is looking more to set up others like Torres often is, they need a striker to put the ball in the back of the net from inside the penalty area. Demba Ba’s is the guy to fill this need.

Are Chelsea Fans Too Quick to Criticize Fernando Torres?

Before I start, let it be known that I have tried to remain extremely objective surrounding Fernando Torres. I have written both negative articles and positive articles about his performances last season. I am not one of those people who supports Torres unconditionally because of his looks or any other reason.

With that said, Torres was awful against Shakhtar in the Champions League as Chelsea lost 2-1 in Ukraine. He was substituted off by Roberto Di Matteo after 70 minutes and rightfully so – he provided only one real shot on goal and lost the ball eight times to Shakhtar defenders. It was the worst performance for Torres this season.

Chelsea fans were brutal regarding his efforts after the game – “He’s horrible” “Need to sell him immediately” “Bench him for Sturridge and don’t look back”. By now with Torres, I’m used to comments like these and I really don’t think too much about it – but after this match in particular it is quite unfair to single out Torres. Oscar misplaced too many passes against Shakhtar and the game looked bigger than him at times. Hazard had several chances and weakly shot the ball on goal to be easily saved on multiple occasions. Mata was brought back down to earth and wasn’t nearly as much of a factor as in recent games. Petr Cech needed to make 9 saves, some incredible, to keep the game from getting out of hand and to maintain Chelsea’s respectable goal difference. It was a bad game for most members of the Chelsea squad, not just Torres.

So why does Torres get so much of the blame? Here’s why I think it’s unfair…

  • Torres has FINALLY started scoring goals – Chelsea fans waited so long for Torres to score goals and now he finally is with 7 goals in his last 11 Premier League starts. Any manager in the world would love a striker who scores at that rate and it’s certainly a reason why Chelsea are at the top of the table. Sure he misses chances, but all strikers do, including Didier Drogba (who only had 5 Premier League goals last season).
  • Torres has been very smart about his shot selection – While people point to his missed chances it’s somewhat surprising to note that Fernando Torres actually has taken only 17 shots to score his 4 Premier League goals this season. Compare that to the likes of “better” strikers such as Luis Suarez (5 goals, 50 shots) and Jermain Defoe (5 goals, 43 shots) and it makes Torres look significantly more clinical when he does decide to pull the trigger.
  • Torres “leads” the second best attack in the Premier League – With 19 goals scored this season Chelsea have the second best attack in the Premier League – it’s honestly hard to complain about that. Obviously the goals and smart shot selection from Torres helped to reach this goal total but his ability to run and create space for the attacking trio of Mata, Oscar, and Hazard has been under-appreciated and doesn’t show up in the stats.

In short, Torres may get a lot of the blame when Chelsea loses and sometimes he deserves it. But when the opponent destroys Chelsea on both ends like Shakhtar did in the Ukraine it’s unfair to single out one player, basically as a result of habit, when he has been playing quite well in previous matches.

Lampard admits inadequate squad

“The fixtures and where we are in the table doesn’t lie, we’re not as good as we used to be. It’s something we must all put right.” – Frank Lampard (Chelsea TV)

Romeu to the Bench: Good or Bad?

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Of the many signings brought in to Chelsea this summer none have surprised quite as much as Oriol Romeu. The young Spaniard burst onto the scene last fall and saw an extended first-team run during the winter but after a (reportedly minor) injury he has been relegated to the bench. His last start was on January 31st and recently he’s seen back-to-back appearances as an unused substitute under new manager Roberto Di Matteo. So does he deserve to be on the pitch or does he actually belong on the bench? Let’s find out…

Chelsea have a win percentage of 64% in the 22 games Romeu has played in (W14 D6 L2), up from only 37% (W7 D5 L7) in the 19 matches Romeu has not featured.

A pretty substantial difference, Chelsea have seen a 73% increase in their win percentage this season when Romeu has played in any part of a match.

Chelsea have a +23 goal difference in the 22 games Oriol Romeu has played (average goal difference of 1.05 per game), allowing only 18 goals in these games (0.82 goals allowed/game) and scoring 41 goals (1.86/game). In the 19 games without Romeu Chelsea have a +7 goal difference (average GD of 0.36/game), allowing 24 goals (1.26/game) and scoring 31 goals (1.60/game) in these matches.

Not only do Chelsea have a goal difference of more than three times as much in matches Romeu has played in, but they also allow over half a goal less per game and ironically scoring has actually increased by 16% when Romeu plays any part of the match.

With these stats alone you could make a pretty strong argument that Chelsea are better when Romeu is on the pitch, but when you look at the stats below it’s an easy call…

Chelsea have an 82% win percentage (9W 1D 1L) when Romeu players full 90 minutes of a match and only a 38% win percentage (12W 10D 8L) when he doesn’t.

When Romeu plays the full 90 minutes Chelsea have scored 22 goals (2 goals/game), conceded only 6 (0.55 goals/game) and have a goal difference of 16 (1.45 goals/game).

In the 30 games Romeu hasn’t played the full match Chelsea have scored 50 goals (1.67/gm), conceded 36 goals (1.2/gm) and have a goal difference of only 14 goals (0.47/gm).

Yes, that’s correct, Chelsea have a better goal difference in the 11 games Romeu has played the full 90 minutes in than the 30 where he hasn’t. Simply amazing, not to mention Chelsea have allowed twice as many goals per game in the same situation.

I don’t care what the reason is for Romeu riding the pine lately at Chelsea, be it his ever looming and confusing buy-back clause with Barcelona, respect for more “senior” players, or even the return of Michael Essien, there needs to be a place for Oriol Romeu in the starting 11 of Chelsea. He’s earned it.


Mata explains Chelsea move

“I came (to Chelsea) first for the club, but as well for (AVB). He gave me a lot of confidence, for this I am very grateful to him.” – Juan Mata (Official CFC)

Terry rushes back for squad

“I said to the physios, the way things were here, I just wanted to push myself and be involved and try to get back as quickly as possible.” – John Terry (Chelsea TV)

Di Matteo on AVB Sacking

“Andre (Villas-Boas) has brought some very good, positive ideas and changes to this football club and we will benefit from his changes. I enjoyed very much working with him and we will remain friends for the rest of our lives, but I will have to move on for this club and try my best with the players we have here.” – Roberto Di Matteo (Official CFC)

The Demise of Andre Villas-Boas


Andre Villas-Boas was sacked earlier today, the 5th manager to leave the club since Jose Mourinho was axed on September 19th, 2007 (not including Ray Wilkins who managed 1 game). Of these managers, AVB had the worst winning percentage…

…and it wasn’t even close. A full 10% separated AVB from the last Chelsea manager who didn’t make it a full season, Phil Scolari. (stats courtesy of thechels.co.uk)

Another shocking stat is the goal difference per game of Chelsea under AVB – a meager 0.63 which is less than half of the difference under Ancelotti and 75% less than the next worse Chelsea manager (Hiddink – 1.09). The stats are clear even though some may disagree with the decision – AVB did not have Chelsea playing anywhere close to the same level as his predecessors.

So how exactly did the demise of AVB happen? Let’s recap his time at the club…

June 22, 2011 – Chelsea pay Porto £13.3m in compensation to land AVB, fans rejoice. Some are hopeful he can have a 20 year run at the club – he didn’t last 20 months or even half of that.

August 2011 – AVB, unlike some managers before him, attempts to plan for the long-term future of Chelsea by signing the likes of Juan Mata, Oriol Romeu, and Romelu Lukaku – the first 2 have been solid first-team players, the latter still only 18 with the physique and upside to be one of the best strikers in the world.

September 2011 – After going undefeated in the first 5 matches under AVB, Chelsea lost 3-1 to United on September 18th. It was their only loss of the month.

October 2011 – Chelsea lose only once in the month of October (against QPR with 9 men) until October 29th, when they lose to Arsenal 5-3.

November 2011 – Anelka starts his last “real” game for Chelsea in a 1-1 draw against Genk on November 1st, Alex on November 5th against Blackburn. This is where I think AVB really started to lose the locker room after he froze out two players who were not only key members of the club’s success in the past but also highly respected by senior players. Chelsea won only 39% (9 wins, 7 draws, 7 losses) of their matches after the win against Blackburn, down from 59% (10 wins, 4 draws, 3 losses) before this date.

December 2011 – After a 2-0 defeat on November 29th to Liverpool, Chelsea replace Fernando Torres with Didier Drogba who rejuvenates Chelsea, guiding them to convincing wins against Newcastle (3-0), Valencia (3-0), and Manchester City (2-1). Drogba scored 3 goals combined in these matches. After a shock draw to Wigan and a respectable draw to Spurs, Drogba left for the Africa Cup of Nations and Chelsea lost all momentum, losing 3-1 against Aston Villa at the end of the month.

The Impact of Fernando Torres


Fernando Torres was one of the most anticipated transfers of recent memory when he made his £50m move from Liverpool to Chelsea in January 2011 – but to say his first year at the club was rough is an understatement. Even the untrained eye and casual fan know of the woes of Torres, but how bad is it? Let’s take a look at the stats…

Fernando Torres has played the full 90 minutes in 13 of the 38 Chelsea matches played this season. In these 13 matches Chelsea average 1.46 points per game  (19 points total using 3 points per win and 1 point per draw as Cup competitions are not allotted points) – winning 5 matches, drawing 4, and losing 4 (38% win percentage).

In the 25 matches Torres has NOT played the full 90 minutes, Chelsea are averaging 1.8 points per game (48 points – winning 14, drawing 6, losing 5 – 56% win percentage), which is a 23% increase in points from when Torres plays the whole match and a 18% increase in win percentage.

Chelsea have scored 21 goals in the 13 Torres played from start to finish, or 1.62 goals per game. In the 25 matches Torres did not play the full 90 minutes, Chelsea have scored 48 goals, or 1.8 goals per game. The club has scored 11% more goals when Torres does not start and finish the match.

So the offense takes a dip when Torres is on the pitch for the full match but honestly it’s not drastically awful, especially when compared to before the Birmingham and Napoli matches when the percentages looked much worse (a staggering 40% point difference to 2.04 per game, 16% goal difference to 1.87 per game). It can be concluded though given the points statistic that the team does perform better when he isn’t on the pitch, but the notion Chelsea scores more when Torres doesn’t play is pretty inconclusive, especially given the sample size of only 13 games.

I have, however, saved the most shocking statistic for last – I don’t even know where to begin in explaining this one…

In the 13 matches this season Fernando Torres has played the full 90 minutes Chelsea have a goal difference of +2. In the 25 matches Fernando Torres has NOT played the full 90 minutes in Chelsea have a goal difference of +22.

This even includes matches Torres has played the full 90 in such as the 5-0 thrashing of Genk earlier in the season at home. A difference in goal differential of two times as much is shocking, five times is astronomical, but ELEVEN times?! Surely there has to be a correlation here between Torres playing and the Chelsea attack/defense faltering.

Most Chelsea fans are aware of the new Torres style – drop deeper and facilitate – but is his style of play forcing midfield and defensive players to push forward more? Are his teammates having to increase their workrate as build-up play and attacking the goal relies more on them (compared to Drogba)? Any insight you may have please, please let me know.


UPDATE 2/24 – I have calculated a plus/minus for Torres – Chelsea are +7 when he is on the pitch and +17 when he isn’t. You can view the full post at thechels.co.uk.

Torres goal and assist rates

Fernando Torres averages a goal every 362 minutes this season for Chelsea and an assist every 227 minutes. He scores or assists every 139 minutes.