It’s been a very successful season for Chelsea’s Tammy Abraham.
In his debut campaign for the first team, after spending last year on loan at Aston Villa, the English striker has greatly impressed under Frank Lampard – as proven by his goalscoring stats.
Abraham is Chelsea’s top goalscorer this season, well clear of much more experienced players like Olivier Giroud and Willian. His 13 league goals put him joint eighth in the Premier League scoring charts, ahead of Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling and Anthony Martial.
The striker is one of many youngsters who have flourished under Lampard, earning an opportunity that he may not have got under different managers to be the Blues’ number one striker.
But despite the numbers, Abraham hasn’t been exempt from criticism.
A minority of football fans, including his own support at Chelsea, have been quick to slate Abraham’s form this season – pointing at his missed chances throughout the campaign, creating videos to ‘expose’ his flaws and talking down his natural talent.
Some Chelsea fans have even been calling for a new striker. A small portion of the Blues fanbase feel it is already time to find a new number nine, not even a year after Abraham established himself in the starting XI.
It seems preposterous that fans will point to the weaknesses of a 22-year-old in such a way, making it out that he is underperforming and not good enough.
The problem is that people are forgetting exactly that: he’s still just 22.
Criticism and analysis can be pivotal in helping a player develop, but there’s a point where it becomes unnecessary slander.
Abraham is in the early stages of his senior career, and has had to be extremely patient for his chance in the Chelsea team. Three consecutive loans at Bristol City, Swansea City and Aston Villa were all valuable experiences for him, but it was about time that he finally earned gametime at Stamford Bridge.
No player can score from every single chance they have, however high a conversion rate they have. Abraham still averages a goal every two league games – which is higher than fellow Englishmen such as Kane and Sterling this season.
Fans critiquing Abraham for the fact that he misses a few chances seem to ignore the fact that he is playing his first full season at a top six club in the Premier League. They are forgetting that he has more league goals than the highest goalscorers at 12 clubs, including Tottenham and Crystal Palace.
For all the chances he has missed in the league, he has netted some crucial goals too. An early season hat-trick at Wolves showcased Abraham’s quality, seven goals in his first five appearances proved his clinical nature in front of goal, and an 89th minute winner away to Arsenal showed that Chelsea can rely on him in big games.
Abraham has been outstanding for Chelsea this season, definitely one of their best players so far and a sound contender for Player of the Season. To be in this position at this stage of his career with these numbers, the 22-year-old should be receiving a wealth of plaudits for his excellent breakthrough season.
Whether critics are ignoring his age and solely focusing on his status as a main striker for a top six club, or they are failing to appreciate his phenomenal goalscoring instinct and intelligent positioning in and around the goal, it is hard to see how Abraham is not receiving more praise.
At 22, Abraham has half a dozen years ahead of him to develop, improve and strengthen his game. He is at least a few years off of reaching the peak of his career, and if he is scoring 15 goals in his early days in the Premier League, who knows how many he’ll be scoring when he’s 25 or 26?
Abraham is one of Chelsea’s finest youth talents, and he’s not leading the line at Stamford Bridge for no reason. For now, we have to appreciate the skills he is already showing, before we all come to appreciate him as one of the best strikers in the Premier League in a matter of years.
Edited by Tiyani wa ka Mabasa