Chances are that you already know that Javier Hernandez Balcazar, better known as Chicharito, is the 25 year old Mexican striker who plays for Manchester United, who often comes off the bench, and who has a penchant for nabbing late winning goals. He is also a pacy forward who gets himself into great positions to score goals, is hugely efficient with his shooting because of that, and will make any team he plays for instantly better.
Chicharito burst onto the scene in a way that would become a hallmark of his career at Man U: he came on as a substitute for Wayne Rooney and scored a goal. In the Community Shield, against Chelsea, Chicharito was a half time sub for Rooney and immediately his pace gave Chelsea’s defenders the fits. A ball from Scholes played Hernandez in and the little wizard nearly opened his assists account with a reverse ball to Berbatov. He would later assist himself when a miss-hit shot bounced off his own face and into the goal.
Hernandez was kind of ridiculed for that first goal but it showed off one of his best assets, that he always seems to be in the right place at the right time. How many times have we Arsenal fans heard the announcers say “cross comes in and no one is at the far post!” Chicharito is that guy who is constantly at the far post.
He’s also that guy who seems to have a voodoo curse over Chelsea. In 13 appearances against the Pensioners he’s scored 8 goals. Chelsea is the team he most likes to score against, with Wigan a second best 6. That said, he never scored against Spurs, City, or Arsenal in 15 appearances
In four years at Man U, Chicharito has only played 4662 minutes of Premier League play. There are 3420 minutes in a single season, which means that Chicharito has only played 1.3 seasons of football yet he has an astonishing 37 goals in that time. That’s a goal every 126 minutes. To put that in context, Robin van Persie averaged a goal every 135 minutes for Arsenal and Olivier Giroud averages one every 202 minutes.
In all competitions, Chicharito has made 149 appearances for United and scored 59 goals. In 7975 total minutes, he averages a goal every 135 minutes. He has also only been subbed on 67 times in those 149 appearances, meaning that he has 55% starting rate. And he has been subbed off 38 times meaning that he has only played a full 90 for United on 44 occasions. 30% of his total games for United have been a full 90.
In that regard he’s similar to Lukas Podolski. Podolski has 68 appearances for Arsenal, 16 of which have been late subs, 42 of which have seen the German player subbed off, and 10 times he’s played the full 90. Well, ok, not really that similar since Podolski has played the full 90 in less than 15% of his appearances.
He is also similar to Podolski in that he is an absolutely clinical finisher. Over his United career he has a 4 shots per goal average, converts a whopping 25% of his total shots, and gets 49% of his shots on target. Podolski is actually slightly better in terms of finishing needing just an average of 2.9 shots per goal, scoring almost 30% of his overall shots, and yet only putting 42% on target.
Podolski is also better at providing for his teammates, both players have a total of 13 assists for their teams, but Chicharito has played nearly twice as many minutes.
But all of those stats miss out on the real reason why Wrighty has his eye on Chicharito. Yes, he has pace. Yes he has a decent scoring record. Yes, he fills the box with great runs and is always hungry to score goals. But he probably catches the eye because he has won or rescued the game for Man U 25 times in his 4 years at the club.
Those numbers break down to about 17% of his appearances result in something dramatic that he does. Podolski has a similar but slightly lower percentage at 14%. During Gareth Bale’s £100m season at Tottenham he scored 9 winning Premier League goals for a return of 26%, or 1 in every 4 appearances he was scoring a winner. That was a wild season too. Without Bale, Spurs would have dropped 25 points that year and instead of fighting for 4th place, would have been in 9th. Still, 17% is not bad, it’s a little better than scoring a winner in one in six appearances.
Questions over how Chicharito would fit into the Arsenal system and whether he would start or sub are all legitimate. How would he fit? Well, in the games he scored goals he often started as the center forward with Rooney in behind him. It’s a small lineup but takes advantage of his pace and movement up front.
Wenger seems reluctant to play with a Bocephus sticker on his 442 and has instead opted for a 433 or 451 since the breakup of the Invincibles. Chicharito is not a hold up forward so he won’t be able to do what Giroud is doing for Arsenal this season. And questions over whether Chicharito can dribble past players on the wing remain since he has never shown himself to be much of a dribbler for Man U and he’s also not got the wicked cross of someone like Podolski. However, Liverpool and Everton have used variations on 352 to great effect this season and none of the forwards they are deploying are hold-up players (Lukaku could be but they don’t really play that way). There are times when Arsenal have so many players in the opposition box that it looks more like a 244 so maybe a switch to 3 at the back would be an improvement.
I will say that Chicharito’s reputation as a late game sub winner isn’t really justified. He does much better when he starts:
|Games he scored in as a starter||33|
|Games he scored in as a sub||15|
|% as Starter||40%|
|% as sub||22%|
|Games won as Starter||15|
|Games won as Sub||6|
|% winners as Starter||18%|
|% winners as Sub||9%|
My gut doubts that Arsenal will sign Chicharito unless something very strange happens this summer. Still, there have been a number of interesting transfers between Man U, Arsenal, and Chelsea over the last two years and I can’t rule anything out. Chichi is 25 years old, entering his prime, United are going to have a new manager and management team, Hernandez is only contracted until 2016, he was just very harshly treated by Moyes, and is demanding more playing time. A move seems very likely to me. To Arsenal?
I’d love to have him.