We’re now deep into the transfer window and the Club seem content with our choices at right-wing, so the question for the upcoming season is this: who will command the starting right-wing spot this season?
Conte had a clear favourite for the 2016/17 season with Pedro making 26 starts of the 35 games he featured in, compared to Willian who only started 15 times in the League from the 34 appearances he made. This has been a major change for Willian who has made 28 and 32 starts for the past two seasons respectively, but has also seen him hit his best scoring-season in the league with 8 goals last term. Although Pedro was a firm favourite over Willian last season, a comparison of their statistics paints a different picture to the one you might expect.
Whilst Pedro was the starter last season it was Willian who created more chances, with 40 to 51 created respectively. So, Willian was the teammate who was producing more opportunities for the players around him, but an interesting statistic to counter that is a comparison of their assists for the season. Pedro hit a very impressive 9 assists last season compared to only 2 from Willian. I feel the assists statistic is always harsh on players, as your number of assists can vary massively depending on the form and ability of the player taking the opportunity. In any case Pedro registered as many assists as Mesut Ozil last term which is no mean feat.
Next up: goals. Pedro put 9 in the back of the net whilst Willian scored 8 himself. Note that Willian played 600 minutes of Premier League football LESS than Pedro yet managed only one goal less than his Spanish teammate, giving him a far superior minutes to goal ratio of 194 minutes per goal, with Pedro’s at 239 minutes per goal. This stat shows that Willian is much more of a goal threat during the time he is on the pitch, adding in that he is a free-kick specialist too gives him another dynamic that Pedro cannot bring to the side.
The attempts statistic is another head-scratcher. Pedro had 59 attempts at goal last season, compared to only 44 from Willian, which is understandable as Pedro played more. On the other hand this means that Willian’s conversion rate is better than Pedro’s, at 18.2% and 15.3% respectively making Willian’s attempts at goal more likely to yield a goal. Which makes you wonder how many goals Willian could have potentially scored if he were to have played the same minutes as the Spaniard last term.
Another important statistic for wingers is the take on percentage statistic, and again it’s not our starter who comes out on top. Pedro had a 70% take on completion compared to Willian’s 75.3%. This stat is important as successful take-ons out wide can lead to crosses and the creation of more chances for the striker, so a higher take on percentage means Willian can beat his man more often and create space for a potential opportunity.
Another important aspect (especially in a Conte team) is the work rate of a player; this can’t be measured of course, but Willian was renowned for his work rate under Mourinho in the 4-2-3-1 not only on the ball but pressing and tracking back. Pedro is less enthusiastic in this respect; however this may not be as important in Conte’s system currently as his defensive responsibilities are catered for by his protective wingback in the form of Moses (or hopefully someone new by the start of the 2017/18 season), allowing the forward three to roam forward and maximise their attacking capabilities.
Numbers aside, the general consensus of Willian from the Chelsea fanbase is he is one of the hardest working players to grace the Chelsea shirt, but his product in the final third quite often leaves a lot to be desired, and that Pedro is a tricky winger who scores big goals in big games who has had a great season, but is liable to be bullied off the ball due to his lack of physicality.
In my opinion, the statistics above are some of the most important in football when considering individual modern-day wingers, and on the whole Willian outscores Pedro in nearly all areas.
Obviously it’s one thing to be a good player on paper and something else completely to be a good player on the pitch, as can be seen by Conte’s choice of starting winger last season. So it makes you wonder why in particular Conte chooses Pedro over Willian for the starting position of which Willian has held for the previous 3 seasons.
There can be no doubting Pedro hasn’t been superb as a part of the starting front three, but I’m sure with Willian’s mentality he’ll be pushed even harder next season for his place in the starting eleven.
(All stats above are based on Premier League performances alone)
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