Torres v Malouda: who gets the left and who gets left (on the bench)

Maybe this is a bit of a stretch but the first attempt I made to see if it stacked up statistically using Guardian Chalkboards did support the idea that Chelsea have just bought a player for £50 million, Fernando Torres, who plays a very similar role to one of their brightest lights the past two seasons, Florent Malouda.

Malouda, tied with Drogba for most goals for Chelsea this season at nine (same number Torres had for Liverpool) likes to operate down the left side of the pitch. Torres, while not to the same degree it could be argued, definitely seems to pull into channels on the left more than the right. Have a look at this heatmap from two recent Liverpool and Chelsea games showing passing activity for Torres and Malouda (I chose passing because you get more incidence of passes than any of the other attacking stats so it’s more representative of where they tend to be on the field than if you tracked the two or three shots on goal they may get in a game):

Yes, it’s a very selective stat (wish you could do season long compilations on these chalkboards rather than from just within one game) but it’s really more just from my observation from watching them. David Villa is another striker who strongly favours coming in off the left channel at goal. It may even have been that part of Torres less than spectacular World Cup (yes, I know he wasn’t fully fit) was due to the fact he was told to leave that channel for Villa because he’s more reliant on that area of the field to be productive.

Factor in that Liverpool didn’t get Chelsea to throw in Anelka and you now have easily the most potent (if not sulking) strike force in England and maybe Europe. Drogba, Torres, Malouda and Anelka. It’s just a matter of finding them all roles they will accept and prosper in.

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