The opening six weeks of the Premier League season has had Chelsea fans drooling over their new defensive midfielder, Jorginho, but are they getting ahead of themselves? LFC Transfer Room’s Anthony (@antstonelake) thinks so and here’s why.
Jorginho amassed an impressive 180 passes in his 90 minutes against West Ham this weekend, but as soon as you look under the hood of that stat, the impressiveness fades away remarkably quickly. Having been afforded an inordinate amount of time and space on the ball, it’s a wonder how he didn’t have a more productive afternoon in what was to be a 0-0 draw and the first points dropped for Chelsea all season.
The Brazilian-born Italian mustered only 0.21 xAssists in a game that he dominated possession. He, by himself, held the ball for 16.4% of the possession. That’s 14 minutes and 46 seconds on the ball.
This kind of game is the sort of thing Jordan Henderson has been producing at Liverpool for years now, and he’s constantly under criticism from fans of all teams, even Liverpool. Why is this? Why is everyone jumping on the Jorginho bandwagon yet disregarding the impact of Jordan Henderson in the last 5 years?
There are the obvious stereotypes that people associate with good footballers. The fact that Jorginho’s name ends in “inho” and Jordan Henderson is English so there’s no way he’d be a good deep-lying midfielder, right?
Liverpool, seemingly more than any of the other top six teams in the Premier League, has a tendency to have players underrated by fans of opposing teams.
This has happened so many times over the years and since he joined Liverpool from Sunderland in 2011, Jordan Henderson has been put down and underrated. All this despite being part of the Liverpool team that came so close to winning the Premier League in 2014, and taking over as captain from the legendary Steven Gerrard.
Another player that has been grossly underrated in his time at Liverpool is Georginio Wijnaldum, who came in from a relegated Newcastle side. Most people completely turned their head at the Dutchman, but he has become and instrumental part of Jurgen Klopp’s system, especially this season, with Gini rejuvenated following the arrival of Naby Keita.
As you can see, despite putting up mammoth numbers when it comes to passing stats, Jorginho really hasn’t enforced his will onto a game in the Premier League so far this season.
If you look at Gini Wijnaldum’s graph (above) you can see the difference is shocking, and that is even taking into account the fact that he’s only recently scored his first ever Premier League goal away from home.
During the early summer, Liverpool were rumoured to be in for Jorginho, with the Reds supposedly taking an interest in the former Napoli man, but facing stiff competition from Manchester City for his signature.
This turned out to be a ruse for Liverpool to get their man, Fabinho, from Monaco with next to no distractions from elsewhere. The Brazilian, who is yet to start for Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool cost just under £40m, £17m less that what Jorginho eventually cost Chelsea.
It’s obviously yet to be seen if Fabinho will be the better man for Liverpool and we will never know how Jorginho would fit into our squad but I digress, we should be happy in the situation we find ourselves.
It’s been just over two years since Liverpool last beat Chelsea in a competitive game, in which, Jordan Henderson scored an extremely memorable goal against a then Antonio Conte-led Chelsea side.
Both teams have changed exponentially since then, with Jurgen Klopp’s vision of what he wants to be a Liverpool team finally starting to take place and Maurizio Sarri taking helm at Chelsea with the goal of playing more attractive football.
Playing Chelsea twice this week will be Liverpool’s biggest test yet this season, as it will be Chelsea’s. How Jorginho and the Chelsea midfield cope with Liverpool’s style and brutally attacking football will be the biggest narrative from the pair of fixtures but it will most certainly not define either club’s season.
Jorginho will definitely not be afforded the time, nor space, to make 180 passes against Liverpool, especially with the likes of Roberto Firmino running straight at him at full pelt with the only intention of getting the ball back.
Serie A is notoriously slower than the Premier League and that’s why most Liverpool fans understood Emre Can’s move to Juventus as he needed about a thousand touches on the ball just to get a pass off. The Premier League is an entirely different animal.
It’s going to be an interesting week to see how Jorginho copes, but more importantly, how Liverpool exploit his inexperience against Premier League level competition.