Branislav Ivanovic has taken the brunt of criticism from Chelsea fans for his play this season, but according to data from whoscored.com, Ivanovic is only the fourth worst performing Chelsea player this season.
According to the stats, the Chelsea player who has underperformed the most, compared to last season is captain John Terry, whose rating has dropped from 7.03 to 6.07. Terry was brilliant last season, but this season he has really struggled, winning fewer than half as many aerials per game as last season. Tackles, interceptions and clearances are all down, the last of those three dramatically so. That Mourinho dropped him is a logical move, despite what the newspapers say.
More worrying for Mourinho is that Eden Hazard is the next player whose performance has slipped compared to last season, down from 7.96 to 7.19. Intriguingly, his key passes per game have gone up, but he is dribbling and shooting less and playing more long balls.
Two other Chelsea players who have came under heavy criticism this season are Nemanja Matic and Cesc Fabregas.
Matic was brought on at half-time against Southampton on Saturday and then taken off again after 28 minutes. Mourinho insisted there was no attempt on his part to “humiliate” Matic but whether he meant to or not, that may have been the effect. In those 28 minutes, Matic completed 76.2% of the 17 passes he attempted, was dispossessed once, lost the ball once to a poor first touch, made two tackles, two interceptions and two fouls. While that’s not a performance that’s going to have fans roaring his name, neither is it particularly bad – although it should be said that Matic’s presence did little to check Sadio Mane, who had a brilliant game.
Matic started 35 of 38 league games last season, when he seemed a key presence as Chelsea won the league, and despite the notion that he is having a poor season his stats don’t really support the notion of a player whose form has collapsed.
His pass completion rate has gone up this season, from 86.4% to 89.9%. Tackles per game have gone up from 3.6 to 3.8 and interceptions from 2.0 to 2.4. Dribbles, blocks and clearances have all gone down but that’s still not a profile of a player in collapse. In fact, by WhoScored.com rating, Matic has been the second-best Chelsea player this season, although his score has fallen from 7.40 last season to 7.16 this.
Matic’s partner on midfield Cesc Fabregas started his Chelsea career on fire, then faded after Christmas. There are many fans who feel that his poor form in the second half of last season has carried over to this season and while his WhoScored.com rating this season is 6.96, down 0.66 on last season his pass completion and key passes per game are down and although shots per game are up, tackles per game have also dropped.
The challenge for Mourinho is that across the board, everyone is struggling this season, Diego Costa and Branislav Ivanovic also by more than 0.65. And that’s what makes the situation so difficult. This isn’t one player underperforming. It isn’t the attack misfiring or the defence losing focus. It’s everybody, from back to front, left to right. It may suit Mourinho to let a couple of players take the bulk of the blame, but this is a club-wide collapse.