When Didier Drogba retires the majority of defenders in the Premier League will breathe a huge sigh of relief. Drogba hasn’t just been a menace to defenders throughout his eight seasons at Chelsea, he has been like that for the majority of his career. If you are a defender and you come against Drogba you know about it, but at 34-years-old people have started to question whether Drogba has got much left in the tank.
There is no doubt Drogba has become a Chelsea legend, as a figurehead of the Mourinho era he carved out a reputation as a big game player and also a team leader. It must have been a shock to the system for Drogba to find himself in and out of the team following the arrival of £50m man Fernando Torres and also under former manager Andre Villas-Boas (AVB). Many thought that Drogba’s time at Chelsea was over when Torres arrived, but after scoring what turned out to be the winner against Barcelona in the Semi-final of the Champions League, it seems there is life in the old Drog yet – but with his contract up in the summer is he putting in the type of performances that make Drogba worth keeping?
Drogba has played 30 times this season in all competitions, 8 of those have been as a sub, he has scored 11 goals and has 3 assists in all competitions. By Drogba’s standards these stats are low. In the Premier League he only has 5 goals from 16 starts and 6 substitute appearances, which is a goal-to-game (g-2-g) ratio of just 0.22. Drogba’s g-2-g average over the last 7 seasons for Chelsea is 0.45 meaning you would expect him to score every other game – this has more than halved this season.
Drogba isn’t a striker that just gives goals; as a lone striker he gives a lot to the team by way of assists much like other Premier League forwards Peter Crouch and Emmanuel Adebayor. In Drogba’s 22 league games this season he has only 1 assist. Over his Chelsea career Drogba has averaged 1 assist every 4 games, he is 5 behind where he should be this season based on his career average.
Drogba’s headline stats seem to be on the decline, so I decided to look at his other statistics a little more closely:
As we can see in nearly all key area’s Drogba’s playing stats per game have dropped. It is only in pass completion and clearances where he has improved and it is only a very slight improvement. These increases are opposed by sharp decreases in other key areas, which support why his headline stats are so low.
He is having less shots per game and therefore giving himself fewer opportunities to score goals. His amount of key passes and crossing are both down meaning his assists have suffered. Drogba even seems to be losing more balls in the air, which many say is one of this power forwards biggest strengths.
This could be down to his age and decreasing ability levels or it could be to external factors like tactics and positioning meaning he has less influence on games. Because these stats are an average and he has played less games this season than last, you would expect his stats to be higher, but worryingly they are on the decline.
It is an interesting debate whether Drogba still ‘has it’; the stats suggest no but he has scored some important goals lately, notably in the last two games against Spurs and the world’s best team Barcelona, which lead to big semi-final wins. Following his Barcelona performance, Didier Drogba said “For those who said that I was too old, they saw that I could run maybe one, two or three more years” and I agree with him…well the run part at least.
This seasons exploits at Chelsea have shown that they needed the Drogba’s and Lampard’s, but that is simply as there was no one better to replace them and that could all change in the summer. Drogba is on the decline despite the fact he is in great shape and a beast of a human being. There is no doubt Drogba will go down in history as one of the great power forwards in Premier League history and he is now part of the ‘100 club’, despite his willingness to continue at the top level he should remember that sometimes it is better to go out at the top.