Kai Havertz has destroyed new Chelsea claims and Nicolas Jackson myth as Arsenal dominance rules

Kai Havertz claims have crumbled at the evidence behind Nicolas Jackson comparisons following latest Chelsea goal edging forward in front of Arsenal's title-chasing striker.
Kai Havertz claims have crumbled at the evidence behind Nicolas Jackson comparisons following latest Chelsea goal edging forward in front of Arsenal's title-chasing striker. -Credit:Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

One of the side effects of Arsenal’s recent rise to the most competitive London club in the past two years has been the bragging rights that have gone alongside it in comparison to their local rivals. Gunners supporters have been armed with too many strong arguments when it comes to the social media debates of the past 18-plus months.

Hence why when Nicolas Jackson scored his 13th Premier League goal in their 5-0 win over West Ham United, it took his league tally for the season one higher than former Blue Kai Havertz. Fresh off his brace against his former club, Havertz hit the back of the net in the North London Derby with a man-of-the-match performance and while he didn't score in the win this weekend over Bournemouth, he has solidified himself as the club's starting centre-forward.

Something which, if suggested six months ago, would have had both Arsenal and rival fans chuckling. A testament therefore to the progression of the German forward and the developmental work achieved by Mikel Arteta.

However, that has not prevented the aforementioned social storm which saw a sudden myth emerge that Jackson has somehow now overcome Havertz and that both deals look kinder on the blue side of London. The numbers and reality would disagree vehemently.

The reality is that Jackson has played 29 of his 33 Premier League appearances at centre-forward for Chelsea. The other three came as a second striker and on the left wing, but his 13 goals came while leading the line.

Compare that to Havertz who spent two-thirds of the season playing in midfield with Declan Rice and Martin Odegaard while either Gabriel Jesus, Eddie Nketiah or Leandro Trossard appeared up top, 11 of his 35 league games were played at centre forward. In just these 11 games he has delivered seven goals and six assists – not a great look comparably for Jackson.

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But forget the positioning for a second and take into account their goalscoring ability across the season regardless of where they played. Kai Havertz had been known at Chelsea for being somewhat wasteful and that certainly carried over to a degree with Arsenal, in particular during his early season struggles as the transition to Mikel Arteta’s side was taking effect.

The German has missed 11 big chances according to Premier League data. However, Jackson's big chances missed double that of the German and sit at 22.

It is therefore little surprise that when you take into account the other numbers between the pair, such as expected goals (xG), Jackson fades away again. An xG of 11 for Havertz means he is outperforming that metric by 1.0 goals whereas Jackson's xG of 17.2 means he is underperforming the data by 4.2.

In terms then of goals-per-game at centre-forward, Havertz comes out at 0.64. Jackson however, with his 13 league goals in 29 games is averaging less than one every two games at 0.45.

But it doesn’t stop there. Shot-creating actions per 90 lean toward Havertz (3.59 > 3.02), key passes per 90 (1.58 > 1.25) and pass completion (80.8% > 77.2%). Defensively the numbers are also heavily in Havertz's favour with tackle success percentage (36.8% > 18.2%) blocks per 90 (0.95 > 0.68) interceptions per 90 (0.74 > 0.14) clearances per 90 (0.77 > 0.53); I could go on.

That said, as mentioned he played the majority of the season in midfield so there is some more context but even up top the German’s contributions defensively have been transformative for the position. Alongside Ben White, Declan Rice, Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Magalhaes and Martin Odegaard he is one of the six contenders for Arsenal’s Player of the Season – that says it all.

In short, whilst Jackson has indeed scored the one extra league goal, the context and the overwhelming numerical dominance by Havertz tell a very clear story. There is little doubt of Cole Palmer’s impact since arriving at Chelsea and come May little doubt of Havertz’s either but for Jackson, the jury remains very much out which for a player in his first season who has shown recent signs of improvement is a completely fair position to be in.