Frank Lampard’s bid for a first Premier League victory in charge of Chelsea shifts to Stamford Bridge this weekend but a happy homecoming is far from guaranteed.
Why? Largely, because of Jamie Vardy.
The fast-moving, hard-pressing, all-action Leicester City striker is a nuisance the competition’s best sides have often failed to contain over the past five years.
His record against England’s big six of Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool, Tottenham and the two Manchester clubs makes for captivating reading.
But the Opta data on Vardy might just leave Blues boss Lampard – who saw his side beaten on penalties by Liverpool in the UEFA Super Cup on Wednesday – in a cold sweat ahead of Sunday’s encounter.
— Leicester City (@LCFC) August 10, 2019
More goals than Aguero
Marooned in non-league football not so long ago, Vardy is now a veteran of five Premier League campaigns.
The 32-year-old has scored 80 goals in that time – more than Eric Cantona achieved – and no fewer than 31 against the big six.
That impressive second figure becomes exceptional when you consider he has faced such opposition on 55 occasions, his goals arriving at a rate of one every 141.2 minutes.
Sergio Aguero and Harry Kane have each managed more than 20 against the competition’s heavyweights but neither boasts as many as Vardy since 2014-15.
Factor in a modest supporting cast, occasionally weakened by departures to the teams he continually troubles, and the Foxes frontman seems to defy logic on big occasions.
How, then, are his scoring figures so high?
— Premier League (@premierleague) July 23, 2018
Staggering conversion rate the cornerstone of carnage
In short, Vardy simply performs better when faced with a tougher task.
Opta statistics show his 31 goals against the big six have come from 105 attempts on goal, spawning a shot conversion rate of 29.5 per cent.
For comparison, the former Fleetwood Town striker converts with 18.8 per cent of his shots when squaring off against the rest the Premier League has to offer.
That accounts for a difference of 10.7 per cent.
The discrepancy is remarkable, particularly as his expected goals (xG) figure barely changes: from 0.46 per 90 minutes against the big six to a superior 0.48 against the rest.
Take penalties out of the equation and the gap in Vardy’s shot conversion between big-six opposition and the rest of the Premier League widens further, to a difference of 12.7 per cent (28 per cent versus 15.3 per cent).
Earlier this year, after Vardy moved ahead of Gary Lineker on Leicester’s list of all-time top scorers, Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers described the fiery forward as being “very hungry to improve and get better” even in his post-England years.
Chelsea, you have been warned.
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