Chelsea boast one of the best squad depths in the Premier League. Their squad depth is put more into perspective when you take into account that they have had 15 different goal scorers in the league, 11 games into the season. For a side that possesses the attacking talent of Romelu Lukaku, Timo Werner, Kai Havertz, and Mason Mount, one would be right in hypothesizing that the leading marksman would be among those players. But instead, the award of Chelsea’s leading goal scorer is currently held by none other than English wing-back Reece James with four goals and three assists.
In addition to James, Chelsea’s other wing-back, Ben Chilwell, has also been impressive in finding the back of the net. He is the joint-second among the Blues’ leading goal scorers this season in the Premier League, with three goals in five matches. Chelsea’s two main forwards, Lukaku and Werner, have been injured since the Champions League group stage match against Malmö last month.
Much of the credit for Chelsea’s plethora of goal scorers goes to the versatility of Thomas Tuchel’s 3-4-2-1/3-4-3 system, which allows Chelsea to utilize their width via the movement and positional interchange of the wing-backs. James and Chilwell, in particular, have been excellent in adapting themselves to the system and put on brilliant performances.
Let’s dive into their stats from this season in order to understand the role they play in Tuchel’s versatile system.
James’ attacking output has increased a lot this season. He is seeing less of the ball in his half while his touches in the advanced areas, half-spaces on the right flank, have increased. James is averaging 0.73 goals per match while also averaging more than four touches in the opponent’s box. His average attacking action and shot on target accuracy are also noteworthy.
James’ heat map further highlights his heavy involvement in the opponent’s half. He has mostly been active in the half-spaces in the opponent’s half on the right wing. In addition, he also tracks back to cover his defense when required.
Similar to his wingback counterpart, Chilwell has also seen his attacking output increase this season. He is making frequent runs in the opponent’s half and taking fewer touches of the ball in his half. This season, Chilwell is often drifting inside from the left wing in the opponent’s half. He is averaging 0.55 goals per match while also averaging more than four touches in the opposition’s box per match.
Chilwell’s heat map highlights his presence in the opponent’s half. He is seen more prominently in the advanced areas than his half. Often this season, Chilwell got into threatening positions near the opposition box, and that led to his increased goal contribution.
Thomas Tuchel’s system has allowed the two wingbacks – James and Chilwell – to increase their attacking output. Despite the unavailability of their main forwards, Chelsea have consistently found the back of the net.