JOHN TERRY SCORED his sixth league goal of the 2011-12 campaign against Blackburn on the last day of the season, pulling himself level with the likes of Fernando Torres and Juan Mata. In fact, only Lampard and Sturridge, with 11 goals each, scored more league goals than Terry in the Chelsea squad. Of course, this season, we have also seen Ivanovic, Cahill, Luiz and Bosingwa scoring important goals for the team. This made me wonder how our defenders stack up against other defenders in the league in terms of finding the net.
So as usual, I dove into some online statistics databases to figure it out. I decided to only look at the league (2011-2012) because some teams play more cup games than others; most things, games played and such, are equal in the league. It is easy to find the numbers (Thank you, Internet!) but it is a bit trickier to determine which players are defenders and which players aren’t. Some defenders, like Jones and Kolarov, have played out of position, in midfield and on the wings respectively, for a couple of games for their teams. By the same token, some midfielders, like Valencia and Heitinga, played as defenders on some occasions. So this is what I did.
I counted all the players traditionally defined as defenders – like Jones and Kolarov – as “defenders” on my list. But I allowed only a few traditionally defined midfielders who have played more than just a few games here and there as defenders in my “defender” category. What that means is that Heitinga is counted as a “defender” while Valencia is not. This shouldn’t be the major source of controversy, especially when you see the data. On that note, some stats and charts after the jump.
Interestingly, there are no out-of-position players in the top two, which should make the counting and discounting of some out-of-position players less contentious. Terry, Ivanovic, Bosingwa, Luiz and Cahill (No, I didn't count the two goals he scored for Bolton here) scored the goals for Chelsea; Vermaelen, Koscielny, Santos, Sagna and Gibbs for Arsenal. This is pretty straight forward.
Amongst City’s goalscorers, only Kolarov, who scored 2 goals, has played out-of-position. And the next out-of-position player counted as defender down the ranks at 6th is Heitinga, who scored 1 goal for Everton. The point is, counting/discounting of out-of-position players as defenders does not have a big impact on the outcome of the rankings, especially in the top.
Individually, Terry and Vermaelen are the top goalscorers with 6 goals each. Baines (who is on set piece duty including penalties) is in second place with 4 goals and a bunch of players are in third with 3 goals.
It is nice to see how many goals defenders have chipped in for these teams but how these numbers compared to the total goals scored by their teams? In other words, how much did these defenders really contribute to the team in terms of goals scored?
Contribution Percentage of Defender Goals
|Chart 2. Defender Goals Compared to Team Goals and Contribution|
Chart 2 compares the goal scored by defenders to their team’s total goal scored. For example, Chelsea defenders scored 13 goals while the team scored a total of 65 goals in the league; this is a 20% contribution (13 divided by 65). The chart only looks at the top 10 in terms of defender goals, which coincidently is the top 10 in terms of contribution percentage (who cares about the other ten?!). It is still arranged in a descending order of defender goals from left to right but as you can see, the contribution percentages go up and down in this ranking.
Chelsea still leads with a 20% defender goal contribution. But Wigan is now second with 19%; Bolton third with 17.4%. The likes of Arsenal and Man City may have high number of defender goals but they also have high number of team goals, pushing their contribution percentages.
Anyway, this is a Chelsea blog. So the point is, Chelsea comes in first not only in the number of goals defenders have scored but also in the contribution percentage of these defender goals when compared to the team’s goals. Now, let’s look at who’s responsible for that.
Goals Scored by Chelsea Defenders
|Chart 3. Goals Scored by Chelsea Defenders in the League 11-12|
John Terry is way ahead of his defensive partners with 6 goals. As I’ve mentioned previously, this makes him the second top league goalscorer within the Chelsea squad, behind Lampard and Sturridge (each of whom has 11 league goals).
Just because I was curious, I also looked into the defender goals in all competition for Chelsea. It stands: Terry (7); Ivanovic (5); Luiz (3); Cahill (2); and Bosingwa (1) – taking the total to 18 goals, which is still the highest amongst other teams in the league. When counting the defender goals in all competition, Man City is second with 15 goals and Arsenal is third with 14 goals. But, of course, Chelsea played more cup games than either of these teams (still has one more game in Munich!).
The majority of these Chelsea defender goals did come from set-piece situations. So, I think the deliverers of the set-pieces should also get some credits here. The likes of Mata, Lampard and Meireles have made assists directly or indirectly from corners and freekicks.
It’s great to have these numbers that boast our defenders, who have done more than what their jobs require, which is defending. But we also finished only 6th in the league, which could mean two things (either/both) – we lacked the goals from our forward (which is a pretty fair assessment) and our defenders let in more goals than they should have (which also is fair assessment). Let’s keep (and celebrate) the good stats and improve others in the next season. Can we do that? Please?
Carefree, wherever you may be...