EPL

The Numbers Game: Is returning Joao Felix the tonic for Chelsea's goalscoring blues?

By Sports Desk February 10, 2023

Off the pitch, 2023 has offered plenty of excitement for Chelsea supporters. However, the same cannot really be said for the on-pitch fare being served up by Graham Potter's men this year.

The Blues' return of six points and three goals from six Premier League games since the turn of the year is hardly commensurate with their estimated £291million outlay in the January transfer window, and they need to turn a corner soon.

West Ham are in similar need of an upturn, with David Moyes' side just one point clear of danger and embroiled in a tense battle to beat the drop.

That means there is plenty at stake for both as Chelsea travel for Saturday's derby meeting with the Hammers, and there is certainly no love lost between the London rivals.

Stats Perform picks out the standout Opta numbers ahead of a game that both West Ham and Chelsea will hope marks a turning point in their disappointing seasons.

Chelsea bid to end goalscoring blues

Having followed up a 1-0 home victory over Crystal Palace with 0-0 draws against Liverpool and Fulham, Chelsea are looking to avoid making unwanted history on Saturday.

Chelsea could record three successive goalless draws for the first time in their league history next time out, with their plethora of big-money arrivals so far failing to click in the final third.

Last week's stalemate against Fulham represented the 17th goalless draw Potter has overseen since the start of his first Premier League campaign in 2019-20 – more than any other boss during that run.

Those hoping Chelsea's opponents step up to provide the entertainment may be disappointed. West Ham have underperformed their expected goals figures by almost 10 goals this season (18 goals from 27.9 xG) – the biggest negative difference in the Premier League this term.

Can Joao Felix lead the way?

Chelsea will hope the solution to their goalscoring issues is provided by Joao Felix's return to action, with the Portugal international eligible once again after last month's debut red card against Fulham led to a three-match ban.

Joao Felix has never scored more than 10 goals or contributed more than five assists during a single season for parent club Atletico Madrid, but there are signs he could evolve into a more prolific player at Chelsea.

The 23-year-old was averaging a goal involvement every 120 minutes for Atleti this season prior to being loaned out, his best figure since joining the Spanish giants in 2019.

Joao Felix also averaged a goal every 191 minutes for Rojiblancos this campaign, a ratio not bettered by any Chelsea player in the Premier League this term. 

Hammers chase rare derby delight

West Ham have not garnered much enjoyment from their recent meetings with cross-city rivals.

The Hammers have lost eight of their last 10 London derbies in the Premier League, the exceptions being a draw against Tottenham and a win over Fulham, though both of those results came this season.

However, West Ham have alternated between winning (four times) and not winning (D1 L2) in their last seven home Premier League games against Chelsea, and the teams' last meeting at the London Stadium saw Arthur Masuaku hit a late winner for the hosts in December 2021.

If that represents a negative omen for the hosts, Chelsea could be set to make history – victory would make the Blues the first team to win 150 London derbies in the Premier League. 

Late drama incoming?

No Premier League fixture can lay claim to containing the levels of late drama witnessed in meetings between these two teams.

There have been seven winning goals scored in the final five minutes of Premier League games between West Ham and Chelsea, more than in any other fixture in the competition's history.

The last three meetings between the teams have been settled by a goal scored in the final five minutes, with Kai Havertz doing the honours 88 minutes into September's return fixture at Stamford Bridge.

Christian Pulisic was the last-minute hero as the Blues also edged the previous clash last April, and given their recent shortcomings, the visitors will not mind if they are made to wait again on Saturday. 

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