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Tammy Abraham’s Season so far critiqued

Cast your mind back to August 2013, the Super Cup final, nothing more than a glorified preseason friendly; however it was Romelu Lukaku...

Cast your mind back to August 2013, the Super Cup final, nothing more than a glorified preseason friendly; however it was Romelu Lukaku’s fatal spot-kick which Neuer saved, costing Chelsea defeat and Lukaku’s Chelsea career, as four days later Mourinho sanctioned his loan move to Everton.

This August when Tammy Abraham missed the decisive kick in a penalty shootout which handed Liverpool the 2019 UEFA Super Cup prize in Istanbul, the then 21-year-old was subjected to vile racist abuse on social media, and I couldn’t help fearing this would affect him as negatively before the campaign had even begun, as it had Lukaku so catastrophically in a Chelsea shirt.

“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” was the attitude adopted by Abraham seemingly, because fast forward to now, the Chelsea striker is the Blues top scorer this season with 15 goals in all competitions, 13 in the league. 

After a hugely successful loan season with Villa, on the back of a disappointing loan spell with Swansea in the Premier League a year prior, Abraham had earnt his chance in the Chelsea squad and has scored 26 goals in 40 appearances in Villa’s chargeback to the Premier League, the second-most by any player in the Championship, behind Norwich's Teemu Pukki.

To be critical of our top scorer Abraham, the ‘Opta’ stats suggest that a recurring theme of his season has been missing clear-cut chances in home games, which would clearly negatively impact Chelsea's expected goals at Stamford Bridge- Chelsea has the lowest ‘expected goals’ stats for their home games in the entire division. It is this failure to score when on top which has cost us hugely in games we should be winning, to name a few: Boxing Day’s 2-0 home defeat to Southampton, 1-0 home defeat to Bournemouth, 1-0 home defeat to West Ham and February’s 2-0 home defeat to Manchester United.

The England striker has missed 11 chances at Stamford Bridge which ‘Opta’ define as 'clear-cut'. That is more than any other player at any stadium. No other Premier League player has missed more than eight big chances at any ground in the entire league. Away from home has been a different story altogether mind you, Abraham's total of eight away goals this season is only bettered by Arsenal's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Manchester City's Raheem Sterling and Leicester's Jamie Vardy. Chelsea has found it difficult to penetrate through teams who defend deep and are not playing expansively against us.

Lampard is aware of Chelsea’s consistent failure to turn dominance into goals at home this season: "When you are creating 20 chances a game and not scoring enough goals, that can be crucial. I don't think it absolutely changes it, but of course, Tammy has been our main source of goals so it's very relevant."

It was this home form problem, and reliance on Tammy’s goals (a huge pressure on a young man’s first season as our number 9) which urged pundits and the Chelsea faithful that Chelsea must sign another striker to provide Abraham competition- this never happened of course. But with Batshuayi simply not producing consistently, and Giroud, until the Tottenham home fixture in February, was completely out of the picture, it was an understandable demand from the supporters, which Abraham welcomed:

“It would have been nice if he had come (Cavani). He would have been someone I can learn off and steal his ideas to add to my own. It didn’t happen though and for me, it gives me that extra push and desire to claim my position and be as best as I can.”

Lampard’s first victory in charge came away at bottom of the league Norwich, Tammy netting twice, two fine finishes in a 3-2 win. After this win, Abraham netted another brace in a disappointing 2-2 draw at home to Sheffield United, the Blue’s throwing away a two goal lead in the second half, yet another example of failing to put teams to bed at home. And perhaps the highlight of Abraham’s season was his first hattrick for the Chelsea senior team away at Wolves, in a 5-2 win- he sealed the hattrick with such confidence, faced one on one with Connor Coady, Abraham flicked the ball inside and out, brushing past the flailing defender before ruthlessly smashing the ball into the bottom corner. 

This early-season form earnt Abraham a call up to the England squad for forthcoming (November) UEFA Euro 2020 qualifying matches; in the 7-0 thrashing of Montenegro Abraham managed to get himself on the scoresheet, scoring the final goal, getting across his man at the near post to steer home Jadon Sancho’s low delivery- a combination the Chelsea faithful are very hopeful we will be familiar with next season, amid speculation linking Sancho with a potential move to West London.

In December Abraham scored the winner away at the Emirates in a 2-1 victory, Abraham’s winner at Arsenal was his first strike against one of the league’s so-called ‘big six’ clubs, and Lampard believes breaking that duck will push the young striker to new heights.

Asked about Abraham’s first goal against one of the league’s big guns, Lampard said: “Hopefully it will help him. His numbers are great and getting better. At Tottenham last week he showed everything we want to see out of him other than the goals”.

Tammy’s form this season so far has received some recognition after winning a clean sweep at the London Football Awards- Abraham was awarded both the ‘London Football Awards Player of the Year 2019–20’ and the ‘London Football Awards Young Player of the Year: 2020’.

This extraordinary early season form demonstrated Tammy’s quality, that he does have the cutting edge to be Chelsea’s main man upfront. Injuries have undoubtedly slowed his momentum come to the turn of 2020, and I believe Tammy does absolutely need fresh competition in the latter phase of the pitch to improve as a player and learn from, which he alluded to himself (interview above). Moreover to provide rotation and strength in depth for the squad, so if Tammy is injured or is tiring in games which we are chasing, we can turn to somebody and have faith that he’s going to deliver and produce. Every title-challenging team has strength in depth and a focal point rotation, this is Lampard’s task and project. 


Written by - Bruno Brown
Twitter - @Bruno14Brown

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