Is Oscar improving enough to warrant a continued starting place at Chelsea?

Oscar was considered a very highly rated young player when he moved to Chelsea at the start of the 2012/13 season. The Brazilian playmaker slotted into the side and made 34 appearances in his debut campaign. Last season he was considered to be so important that he was responsible for occupying the no.10 role that subsequently led to the sale of back-to-back player of the year Juan Mata.

Oscar was regarded as doing a more important role for the team from a tactical stand point, given his high work-rate and ability to track back and hustle opposition players. Despite being an attacking player on paper no player has committed more fouls per game than Oscar this season, which is testament to the dirty work that he is prepared to do for his side. Dirty work that Juan Mata didn’t do.

In his three seasons at Chelsea (or two and a half) Oscar has made 88 Premier League appearances for the club. He’s a regular starter and at 23 is considered as someone who can develop into a top player. That being said he is grossly inconsistent. This season half of his six goals came in two games. Prior to that he had a significant dry patch. In his last three games he has been very poor, failing to create a chance. Oscar is a very patchy player. This is why he is left out of some key games.

Over the course of his Chelsea career it is worth assessing whether he has actually improved or not:

table 2

The interesting thing here is that the only area he has improved this season is in terms of his games per goal, which is misleading because of his three goals in two games at the turn of the year. He may well fail to better his eight goals from last year. His chance conversion is also very low and is not better than it was last year. In other areas he is also in decline, such as in chance creation, dribbles per game and tackles. His defensive actions have been consistent throughout his career with an average of two (interceptions, plus clearances plus blocks).

He is excellent at doing this work, what one of my followers on Twitter described as making him a ‘cog’ in the system. But in spite of that, he is inconsistent in his attacking play, this is where he needs to improve.

Oscar then, is regularly playing in the Chelsea side, despite not really showing consistent quality. Chelsea and Jose Mourinho have put huge faith in him which hasn’t really been repaid yet. Of course he does a brilliant tactical job but he’s not warranting his regular starting berth. Although Juan Cuadrado was brought in as a potential right winger, he did play as a no.10 for Fiorentina and perhaps he might put pressure on Oscar once he gets going. Oscar needs to find another gear and really step up to fulfill his potential at Chelsea. Having been at the club for two and a half years he should now be settled and finding much more consistency, especially as he clearly has talent. Instead too often he goes missing in games which can be incredibly frustrating. It is time for Oscar to step up his game, even if he does provide an important tactical role.

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