Chelsea: Jorginho’s lack of assists defies statistics, logic and Phil Jones

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 30: Jorginho of Chelsea is challenged by Wilfried Zaha of Crystal Palace during the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Chelsea FC at Selhurst Park on December 30, 2018 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 30: Jorginho of Chelsea is challenged by Wilfried Zaha of Crystal Palace during the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Chelsea FC at Selhurst Park on December 30, 2018 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images) /

Phil Jones tallied his first assist since the opening day of the 2014/15 season on Saturday. Chelsea should not sign him as their next ball-playing centreback, but his feat should give a bit of pause simply to the statistical improbabilities of Jorginho’s assist drought.

Among the many things Jorginho could not do against Manchester City was cap his assist drought at exactly one year. Last February 10, he set up Jose Callejon for Napoli’s first goal en route to a 4-1 win over Lazio. Since that day, 366 days ago, Jorginho has obviously completed a move to Chelsea FC. There, 10 of his teammates – representing every position on the pitch except for goalkeeper – have made a league assist. In fact, of the 11 Chelsea players with over 1,000 league minutes, only Antonio Rudiger, Kepa Arrizabalaga and Jorginho have not set up a goal this season.

Meanwhile, just down the road at Craven Cottage on Saturday, Phil Jones sent a 15-yard outlet pass from the top of Manchester United’s defensive third to Anthony Martial on the left flank. Martial did the rest, dribbling 60 yards through three hapless and helpless Fulham players to score a goal and bestow an assist on Jones.

Twitter was pretty well split following the goal between praising Martial and banter about Jones. We may have chimed in on the latter, joining those wags who compared Chelsea’s famed “regista” to the Man of A Thousand Faces None of Them Good.

If you ever want to see a self-own on Twitter, criticize Jorginho. Then just sit back and wait for the self-ownage.

The two most common (ahem) defences of Jorginho are “you don’t understand the role of regista” and “Just wait until he has better players around him who understand the system, you’ll see then what he’s capable of!”

The latter of the two is our personal favourite, because it captures so much about the Maurizio Sarri mystique. When conditions are absolutely, impossibly perfect, Jorginho and Sarri are world-beaters. But when those conditions are not met, when there is a hairline crack in any part of the system, when the slightest bit of reality intrudes, well they can’t be held responsible for what they do then. Not only that, but they are preemptively relieved from any duty to adapt to reality.

The Sarritologists marshal these defences whenever someone points out Jorginho’s lack of assists this season. “You don’t understand, that’s not his job, registas don’t make assists, but even if they did they can’t make assists when they are on the pitch with subpar players who don’t understand the system and the opponent is sitting 10 men behind the ball yada yada blah blah.”

And so we have Jorginho leading the Premier League in passes but barely attaining the median on his own team for anything productive coming out of said passes.

It’s simply remarkable that a player can make 2,279 passes and not once did the recipient take the ball and – without laying it off to someone else first – put it into the net. No short passes from the top of the box became a Pedro or Eden Hazard 20-yard curler. No through-balls into the box for Hazard, Alvaro Morata, Olivier Giroud or Chelsea’s true faux-nine, N’Golo Kante, to slot home. There have been no long over-the-top passes from the defensive third bombed into the opponent’s half, a la David Luiz. There hasn’t even been a routine mid-range out ball to the flank that catapulted a forward on a dribble of glory, a la Phil Jones. Let alone any of the passes Cesc Fabregas made magically routine.

Also. Maurizio Sarri unwittingly likens Gonzalo Higuain to Alvaro Morata. light

Let’s take the Sarritologists at their word one more time, this time on their first defence that assists are not what the regista does in Sarri’s system. If true, then Jorginho is the ultimate unthinking lever-puller. When Chelsea recover the ball on defence and the wingers start streaming forward, Jorginho says “that’s not my job” to launch the long ball. He keeps the circuit going. If a crease of space opens up just above the penalty area while the ball is on Jorginho’s foot and Pedro starts to make a run, “that’s not my job – the next pass is not vertical to Pedro.” When the Blues recycle possession to Jorginho and the opponent’s defence is a bit slow to shift over or perhaps loses control of their offside line as Marcos Alonso opens up down the flank, well that’s not what this circuit calls for. That’s not my job.

Or he simply does not see or chooses not to execute these passes when those opportunities present themselves. Remember what we said about self-owning?

The routine nature of Phil Jones’ pass and the world-class nature of Anthony Martial’s subsequent run underscore the anomaly that is Jones’ first assist since the first game of the Louis van Gaal era. Jones deserves a number on his stats sheet, and that’s about it.

So what explains the statistical anomaly of the zero on Jorginho’s stats sheet? He has over four times as many passes, and he can’t even get lucky once, as Jones did on Saturday.

Next. Tactics and Transfers: Rebuilding from this crime against football. dark

Maybe if he just needs to be surrounded by better players who can conjure up a moment like Anthony Martial did.