Chelsea Frank Lampard has had a selection headache to contend with this season.
Whether that be the waning form of first-choice goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga or the early season drop-off in Cesar Azpilicueta’s performances, it has not been an easy task selecting the best XI every week.
What if he could choose Chelsea’s best starting XI with no limitations and no restrictions, based purely on the statistics?
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Using Lampard’s favoured and most-used 4-3-3, this is how it may look.
Goalkeeper – Kepa Arrizabalaga
While Willy Caballero has been chosen between the posts in recent games, his performances do not statistically supersede Kepa Arrizabalaga.
The Spaniard may be having the worst season of his professional career in terms of save percentage – a meagre 58% of shots on target saved – but it still betters Caballero’s 53%.
Given that Kepa has also played considerably more minutes than the veteran Argentine, it suggests over the long term, Kepa would statistically be a safer pair of hands.
Frank Lampard and Kepa Arrizabalaga after Chelsea’s win over Everton (Photo by Robin Jones/Getty Images)
Right-back – Reece James
The young English full-back gets the nod in this statistical XI over César Azpilicueta. James betters the Spanish international especially when going forward, registering 2.18 successful dribbles per 90 at a 73% success rate.
Azpilicueta on the other hand only manages 0.3 dribbles per 90, at a hugely reduced success rate.
James also has a better passing accuracy, cross completion rate, commits fewer fouls and marginally betters Azpilicueta in Expected Assists (xA).
(Image: James Williamson – AMA/Getty Images)
Azpilicueta posts better defensive numbers in tackles won and interceptions made, but in the modern game, James’ high-energy approach is symptomatic of a new breed of full-back.