Rafa at Chelsea; Time for the facts.

by Conor Clancy

Rafa Benitez watchesWith Rafael Benítez having managed as many Premier League games in charge of Chelsea FC as Roberto Di Matteo this season, I was curious to investigate how the two match up. When you look at the stats, it is fair to say that the Spaniard is lucky to still be in the job at The Bridge, although it is debatable whether or not anybody is lucky to be the manager at this particular club.

At the time of the initial statistical research, Benítez had managed twelve Premier League games as Chelsea boss – the same as Di Matteo this season, at the time of writing, he has managed one more so I had to recalculate some of the figures to make them up-to-date.

To begin with, lets take a look at the most basic figures possible. How many games has Benítez won, lost and drawn? Well, in his thirteen games at the helm, he has won only six, drawn four times, and lost three times. Compare this to Roberto Di Matteo’s twelve games in charge out of which he won seven, drew three and lost only two. With his win ratio being worse than Di Matteo’s – a man who was sacked, it makes you realise just how lucky Benítez is to be still employed.

Now lets move on to some more, perhaps unseen statistics about Chelsea under Benítez. Under him, Chelsea have scored twenty seven league goals, not too bad. If we take away the 8-0 drubbing over Aston Villa, this figure falls dramatically to nineteen. Now this stat doesn’t look so good. Nineteen goals in twelve games is simply not good enough. This averages out as being just over 1.5 goals per game. For a side who were title challengers under Di Matteo, this is not acceptable. This figure also looks even worse when compared to the goal to game ratio under the Italian, which worked out at being exactly two goals per game.

One of the things that Chelsea fans were promised when Benítez arrived was that he would tighten up the defence. That the defence would become almost airtight. This has not come to pass. Although he has helped Chelsea to keep one more clean sheet than Di Matteo – five to Di Matteo’s four, he has not made any dramatic improvements to the defensive aspect of the European Champions’ game. He has seen his side concede an average of 1.07 goals per game. This is all but identical to the record of Di Matteo’s Chelsea, who conceded an average of 1.08 goals per game.

Time to take a look at some very important figures now, lets look at the points accumulated by Benítez at Chelsea. This figure does not reflect well on Benítez, even less so when compared to the figure that got Di Matteo sacked. Since taking control in November, Benítez has averaged 1.69 points per game. To further understand how poor this is for a club of Chelsea’s stature I’ll explain it another way. If Chelsea went the whole season maintaining an average of 1.69 points per game, they would accumulate 64 points by the end of the season. This is the figure they reached last season, leaving them languishing in sixth place in what was unanimously seen as a catastrophic domestic league season for the Blues. For a side who want to be fighting for silverware on all fronts, this is not good enough. Lets compare this to that of Di Matteo. During his twelve games this season, he achieved an average points per game tally of 2.00. This, maintained over the course of a season would accumulate 76 points, a much more respectable total. This total would have seen Chelsea finish third based on last seasons final standings, and second based on the season previous to last.

One thing that has stood out for many, myself included about Chelsea of late is that they seem unable to see out a game. Having recently thrown away a two goal lead to Reading and Southampton I wondered just how many points Chelsea have dropped from winning positions under Benítez. Well, the answer is shocking. Chelsea have dropped a total of ten points from advantageous positions. Now, answer me this, can you ever imagine Chelsea under Mourinho, Hiddink or Ancelotti doing this? No. I thought not. Even compared to Di Matteo this record is poor at best.

On top of these telling statistics, the style has also changed since the arrival of Benítez. Under Di Matteo’s guidance, Chelsea were beginning to evolve. They were moving on from the more rugged, ‘British style of play’ towards a more continental style based on passing, movement and fluidity. This is no more. They now appear very rigid in games, players more reluctant to roam from their positions and to find and create space which they would have done under the previous regime. The average passes per game has decreased since the Spaniard’s arrival, albeit only by a very small fraction – from 429 to 416.

It must also be remembered that the statistics outlined in this piece only take Premier League games into consideration. They do not include the embarrassing 2-2 draw to Brentford, or the 2-0 defeat over two legs to Swansea in the FA Cup and Capital One Cup respectively.

With a league game win percentage of just 46.15%, Benítez has a worse win ratio as Chelsea boss than Claudio Ranieri (52.1%), José Mourinho (70.8%), Avram Grant (68.8%), Guus Hiddink (84.6%), Luiz Filipe Scolari (56%), Carlo Ancelloti (63.2%), André Villas-Boas (48.2%), and Roberto Di Matteo (52.2%), yet he still finds himself employed by Chelsea Football Club and trigger happy owner Roman Abramovic. Looking at the above statistics really makes me wonder just how much longer will it be before that side banner on Sky Sports News and the back of every tabloid newspaper is displaying the odds for the next Chelsea manager.

Before I wrap up I want to thank the Twitter account ‘@ChelseaStats’ for allowing me to email them requesting many of the statistics used throughout this piece. A must follow account for all Chelsea fans, and for those of you who just enjoy your random football stats and facts.

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