Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Chelsea's Cyborgs: Player Usage Chart

All the way back on the 20th January of this fine year I wrote about Chelsea and cyborgs. Each week Mourinho was running a bunch of players who looked like this:

Those guys could run forever, couldn't get injured and they wouldn't lose. Machines. It's no surprise then that this Chelsea team walked the title with plenty of games to spare.

The player usage chart below is an attempt at visualizing just how heavily Mourinho leaned on his core players.

The further right on the chart, the more starts made. The bigger the bubble, the higher the % of minutes played.

Full Screen 

Chelsea had FOUR players play over 90% of the minutes available in the Premier League: Hazard, Matic, Terry, and Ivanovic. It's incredible that  Chelsea were able to run those crucially important players so much without them breaking down, or wearing down, or giving up.

But the heavy usage doesn't end there. 

  • Cahill and Fabregas played over 80% of the available minutes.
  • Willian and Azpilicueta over 70% of the available minutes.
  • Costa and Oscar rounded out the first 11 with around 60% of the minutes played.
The 10 names you read above are Chelsea's complete outfield team and those names can all be found on the right hand side of the chart above. There was little rotation from Mourinho, Chelsea suffered the lowest number of man games lost to injury by a significant and almost unbelievable margin and that meant there was little need to use the inferior squad players like Cudrado, Remy, Luis, or Mikel. 

Chelsea's squad players are fine pros one and all but the gap in talent from the squad players to the cyborg starters is significant, as it is with many other clubs. But Chelsea were never in a position where they had to use their squad players for anything other than garbage time, to cover the odd suspension or fill in for Costa's hamstrings.

I don't know if Chelsea has a unique training and recovery program in 14/15 that prevented fatigue and injury, or whether it was blind dumb luck (last season only Ivanovic, Terry and Hazard played over 80% of the available minutes and the squad players were generally more involved). It is what it is and Chelsea benefited greatly from it this year during their title winning campaign.

But will that skill/luck sustain next season? Will the cyborgs be just as unbreakable?

Get The Data

Player Starts Age Position % Mins Minutes
Andreas Christensen 19 D 0.4 12
Branislav Ivanovic 38 31 D 100.0 3420
Cesc Fàbregas 33 28 M 84.5 2890
César Azpilicueta 29 25 D 72.6 2484
Didier Drogba 8 37 F 25.0 856
Diego Costa 24 26 F 61.0 2085
Eden Hazard 38 24 M 98.8 3379
Filipe Luis 9 29 D 27.5 939
Gary Cahill 33 29 D 87.3 2985
Izzy Brown 18 M 0.3 11
John Obi Mikel 6 28 M 20.4 697
John Terry 38 34 D 100.0 3420
Juan Cuadrado 4 26 M 18.2 312
Kurt Zouma 7 20 D 18.8 644
Loïc Remy 8 28 F 19.5 668
Nathan Aké 20 D 0.5 17
Nemanja Matic 35 26 M 91.3 3124
Oscar 26 23 M 59.6 2038
Ramires 12 28 M 32.2 1102
Ruben Loftus-Cheek 2 19 M 3.9 134
Willian 28 26 M 70.7 2418