Chelsea

Chelsea wise to want Wilson; he's a hybrid of Morata and Giroud

 • by Harry Gray
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It was little surprise to see Bournemouth striker Callum Wilson emerge as a potential target for Chelsea. It was a surprise to see that interested confirmed by Blues assistant boss Gianfranco Zola.

Nine goals in 18 games in all competitions for the Cherries have yielded a maiden England call-up, which Wilson duly marked with a debut goal in a 3-0 defeat of the USA last month. And the 26-year-old is also in the hunt for the Premier League’s golden boot.

Plenty of reason then for Zola – a mesmerizing talent in his own right in his playing days – to show limited desire in distancing Chelsea from a move for the Cherries man.

“Callum is doing well and is of interest to not only us but many others,” Zola said. “He’s strong he’s fast and he sees the goal.

“I like him because he’s also strong in the air, which is a very important quality, but I don’t want to go into it too much. He’s doing very well and I am pleased for him.”

High praise indeed from a man who knows a thing or two about what it takes to make it at Stamford Bridge, where Wilson could be set for an audition in the Carabao Cup tonight.

But how does the Bournemouth man compare to Chelsea’s current pair of strikers?

It’s fair to say the business end of the pitch has been a problem area for the Blues throughout 2018, with neither the misfiring Álvaro Morata or World Cup winner Olivier Giroud able to cement their place as the club’s first-choice striker. 

The former’s failings have been stark – and a highlight reel of Morata’s misses in isolation makes for grim viewing – but his five Premier League strikes this term have arrived at the same rate of 0.53 goals per 90 minutes as Wilson’s eight.

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Giroud, meanwhile, flounders someway behind his counterparts with 0.17 goals per 90.

He has, though, played considerably fewer minutes (501) than both Wilson (1,354) and Morata (839) in the top flight. 

It is, perhaps, the expected goals column which adds the biggest weight to Wilson’s argument.  The former Tamworth man has been extremely efficient in front of goal this season, bagging his 0.53 goals per 90 from 0.59 expected goals per 90 (xG90) 

Morata, meanwhile, would be finding the net 0.76 times per full 90 were he to be converting all the chances he was expected to, while Giroud’s 0.17 goals per 90 is also well shy of his expected figure of 0.59.

With Chelsea creating 2.35 big chances per game, the second most in the top flight, Wilson would likely benefit from a steadier stream of opportunities should he complete a switch to Maurizio Sarri’s side.

Yet it’s foolish to class the modern striker as a mere goal-getter, as Eden Hazard made abundantly clear earlier this season. 

“He (Giroud) is a target man, maybe the best in the world. I think so,” the Belgium star told BBC Sport. “He can hold up the ball… it’s a pleasure to play with him.”

There is a school of thought the ex-Arsenal man brings the best out of others and four Premier League assists at an average of 0.71 per 90 support that stance. 

However, Giroud’s expected assists per 90 (xA90) is only 0.38 which suggests that while his link-up play has been good and he has fashioned chances, his teammates have been highly clinical.

Wilson’s xA90 is 0.24 – which isn’t hugely behind the Frenchman – but Morata has an xA90 of just 0.02, which suggest he is doing little to impact those around him

But back to the business of goal-getting, the yardstick by which a forward’s value in the transfer window is so often assessed.

The old adage as a striker is that if you don’t shoot you don’t score, but hitting the target remains a prerequisite for doing so. When it comes down to shooting accuracy Giroud suffers, notching just 31.8 per cent compared to Morata’s 43.7 and Wilson’s slightly worse 43.2.

All in all the figures make a fine case for Chelsea to follow up their interest in a player who has found top-flight rhythm this season. Bournemouth’s £40million valuation appears steep but Wilson may just combine the best aspects of Giroud and Morata’s games. 

Zola, it seems, has it right.

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