A look at Ross Barkley’s performances and statistics so far this season reveals a hidden quality that enhances Chelsea’s play. The 26-year-old Barkley has struggled to find a place in Frank Lampard’s eleven consistently, but his inclusion results in better performances for the Blues especially going forward in attack.
Barkley has in his own words, matured since his move from Everton to Stamford Bridge. Speaking in an interview last year Barkley said, “Since I made the move it was good to challenge myself and win trophies and to improve as a player. I’ve changed compared to when I was 18, 19 or 20.”
“I am away from my family and down in London by myself. I am in a totally different environment from Liverpool. I miss being with my family, it is totally different. It is how I am maturing as a person and a player. It is good.”
A look at the games Barkley has started in Chelsea’s midfield reveal standout performances and results by the team, just like our 3-0 thumping of Burnley at Stamford Bridge this weekend.
Barkley has started in Chelsea’s midfield three in 8 games in total: against Norwich where we won 3-2, against Grimsby town where we won 7-1, winning 2-0 against Brighton, 1-0 against Newcastle, 2-0 against Nottingham Forest and 3-0 at Burnley. The only games we dropped points with Barkley starting was our 2-2 draw to Sheffield United and the opening day 4-0 loss to Manchester United.
His record in the games he has started stand at 6W 1D 1L. In every game Barkley has started Chelsea have scored 2 or more goals, except once against Newcastle and have kept 4 clean sheets. Not only have we won more games comfortably, but we also perform better and play better as a collective when Barkley starts.
When Barkley plays in midfield his passing is incisively attacking and forward-thinking and his movement frees up space for other attacking players. When Barkley starts in Chelsea’s midfield, we automatically have more chances of winning the game, conceding fewer and scoring more goals. His movement and direct running help in freeing up pockets of space for others in attack and for wide players to make runs into the box or flank out to provide width.
Barkley averages 1.6 key passes per game and 35.3 average passes per game and 2.1 accurate long balls per game this season. He also averages 1.7 dribbles per game and 1.8 shots per game, keeping the opposition defence busy and keeping Chelsea ticking in midfield. He has also scored 2 goals this season. When he starts in the midfield three, he keeps Chelsea’s mindset firmly fixed on attacking play.
If Barkley starts more in the midfield three with the pivot of Jorginho/Kante/Kovacic, Chelsea are much more solid in the middle of the park and offers more going forward.
Mason Mount is far more effective playing out wide and slotting Barkley in as the attacking midfielder of the midfield three makes much more sense.
Frank Lampard must surely see the effect Barkley has on Chelsea’s play and should look at fielding the England international more in the middle of the park.
Barkley is without a shadow of doubt Chelsea’s dark horse and hopefully gets more game time under Frank Lampard.