Chelsea

Tammy Abraham: Does he deserve another season as Chelsea's No. 9?

The Blues are in the market for a striker. But is their best option staring them in the face?

5:30pm on Sunday 31st May 2020
By
Cameron Smith | Chelsea Analyst

Chelsea signing a new No. 9 has been a hot topic for some time, with the likes of Lyon's Moussa Dembele and, more recently, Arsenal's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang linked with a move to Stamford Bridge.

With the attacking talent available to Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool, plus the striking options available to Pep Guardiola, it has been suggested that Frank Lampard needs to sign a striker to compete next season, especially considering the transfer ban that had prevented any signings in the summer of 2019.

But do they need one? When you cut through the fog of transfer speculation, the form of Tammy Abraham, Chelsea's current first choice option, suggests he may deserve a chance to continue to develop.

Whilst Abraham may not have the pedigree, nor the European experience, of Aubameyang or Dembele, his performances in 2019/20 should ease concerns of an issue in the No. 9 position.

22 yrs - S (C) - Chelsea
81
Defending
Creative
Passing
Attacking
Shooting
Decisive
Aerials
Physical
JavaScript chart by amChartsLDefendingCreativePassingAttackingShootingDecisiveAerialsPhysical10-10-5051015100%
1945
Played matches
25
13
3
Shots P90
3.38
Shots On target P90
1.53
Decisive P90
4
First goal
6

Despite scoring 26 goals in 40 Championship games for Aston Villa in 2018/19, doubts were raised over whether he could make the step up to a club of Chelsea's stature. But he was thrown straight into the starting XI in the first game of the season and he has repaid the faith shown in him by Lampard this season with 13 goals in the Premier League, at a rate of a goal every 150 minutes.

GOOD BASE NUMBERS

Although his game is far from perfect, an unfair criticism is his perceived inability to finish big chances. This myth can be dismissed when looking at his xG, which predicts he should have the exact total he currently has.

Furthermore, Abraham's xG + xA P90 tally of 0.74 in 19/20 is one that rivals the best in England; it puts him level with the likes of Sadio Mane and Raul Jimenez, and superior to potential transfer replacements Aubameyang (0.60) and, in France, Dembele (0.54).

Goal contributions

PlayerTeamxGGoalsxAAssists
Tammy AbrahamChelsea13.4132.853
Pierre-Emerick AubameyangArsenal12173.291
Moussa DembeleLyon11.4161.682
Sadio ManeLiverpool12.43144.877
Raul JimenezWolves13.91136.646

When looking at actual overall contributions, Abraham is still in good company. His non-pen goal contributions P90 of 0.74 - exactly in line with his xG and xA - ranks him in 10th in the Premier League, just behind Mo Salah and ahead of a whole host of established forwards including Aubameyang, Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford and Roberto Firmino. Yet Abraham is the only one of those under any threat of replacement this summer.

CREATIVE OPTIONS

Whilst Christian Pulisic and Mason Mount have had promising campaigns, the Blues have often been unable to break down a deep block, evidently seen in home defeats against West Ham, Bournemouth and Southampton, and have left Abraham isolated and without quality service to feed off.

The addition of Hakim Ziyech to Chelsea's attacking roster will no doubt help Abraham immensely, as the Moroccan will provide far more creativity and chances for Abraham than he receives currently.

During his time at Ajax in the Eredivisie, Ziyech has never dropped below 3.9 Key Passes P90, with his 19/20 total standing at 4.3 P90.

Of players to play more than 500 minutes, Ross Barkley completes the most key passes P90 in the Chelsea squad with just 2.5, paling in comparison to Ziyech's tally, while in terms of Big Chances Created, opportunities where the receiver of the pass would be reasonably expected to score, Willian is the only regular starter who features among the best in the Premier League, with 0.5 P90 placing him just outside the top 10.

19-20 stats
May 28, 2020
 NameCrosses P90Dribbles P90Big Chances CreatedAVG Rating
Hakim Ziyech6139.683.01217.8
Ross Barkley030.932.4036.8
Willian555.372.47106.9
Mason Mount644.421.3386.7
Christian Pulisic522.093.1836.7
Pedro112.531.5716.8

Put simply, the problem is less with the finisher and more with the service. Ziyech's arrival addresses this and it would be unfair on Abraham to deny him the chance to play alongside Ziyech by adding another top number nine into the mix.

The financial effects of COVID-19 are unclear at the moment, but it's likely that clubs will be limited in their spending ability in the upcoming transfer window, hence reducing the chances of Chelsea spending £100m+ on new signings.

The issue at left-back is a far more pressing one than at striker, and it would be more effective in the long-run to pursue an Emerson replacement rather than a new striker for the overall balance of Chelsea's side.

The likes of Alex Telles or Nico Tagliafico may demand a fee of around £30m and it would require closer to £50m to pry Ben Chilwell out of Leicester; hence it would be a better use of resources to secure a solid left-back and entrust Abraham with a starting berth up front for next season.

With an impressive first campaign as first-choice at Stamford Bridge, and age on his side, Tammy Abraham still has all the qualities needed to be a successful No. 9 for many seasons to come under Frank Lampard. Will he be given the chance?

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