THE DATA DAY: CHELSEA V FULHAM
Chelsea returned to winning ways on Saturday evening against our west London neighbours Fulham. The game will be remembered as the one in which John Mikel Obi broke his goalscoring duck in the Premier League, but the key numbers suggest his influence was felt as keenly as ever in his natural habitat in the centre of midfield….
It took 52 minutes for Chelsea to open the scoring against a stubborn Fulham backline, who blocked a third of our 24 attempts on goal during the match. Ramires was thwarted on four occasions before his shot could reach David Stockdale's goal.
Martin Jol bemoaned his side's lack of aggression in the second half, and the stats reflect the visiting manager's analysis. Chelsea attempted 19 tackles after the interval and completed them all, whereas the Cottagers could only muster nine. In a frustrating first 50 minutes Fulham made an impressive 15 interceptions. Former Chelsea midfielder Steve Sidwell successfully intervened seven times, more than any other player. Following Oscar's goal our opponents could only manage five more.
The Brazilian might be renowned for his attacking play but his defensive statistics prove there is more to the midfielder's game. He completed all seven of his tackles during the match, the most of any player on the pitch.
Our number 11 was still pivotal going forward, though. He scored the opener, created three chances and completed 81% of his 32 passes in the final third, again a game-high figure. Andre Schürrle created seven chances for us and attempted just one take-on, leading directly to our opening goal following a successful dribble down the left.
We enjoyed 64.4% of possession and completed almost twice as many passes as our opponents. However, it was Fulham's Darren Bent who squandered the game's best opportunity before Oscar's opener. His effort, when clean through on goal, turned out to be the visitor's only attempt on target during the game.
The day eventually belonged to Mikel, though. He scored his first goal in 185 appearances in the Premier League, and his first in a Chelsea shirt for 261 games, a run dating back to January 2007. His controlled finish was one of two shots he attempted during the game. Last season he shot just six times in 22 Premier League matches, all off target.
The Nigerian made more passes than any other player on the pitch, completing 92% of his 90 passes. Twenty of those were made in the final third, suggesting that his attacking influence was not limited to his goal. John Terry set up Mikel on that occasion and that passing combination proved the most frequent over the 90 minutes, with 21 passes from our skipper finding the unlikely hero.