Robin van Persie’s late strike for Manchester United on Sunday did more than deny Chelsea three points, it reinforced a growing trend Blues boss José Mourinho should be wary of.
Van Persie’s injury-time equaliser was the fifth goal that Mourinho’s side have conceded in the last 15 minutes of matches, the joint most of all Premier League sides. It also represents just over half of all goals they have let slip through, by far the highest share.
Along with Van Persie’s strike, Frank Lampard’s equaliser for Manchester City was the only other late goal which has cost Chelsea points, although Fraizer Campbell and Samuel Eto’o both scored late to ensure nervous finishes against Crystal Palace and Everton respectively.
Yet this may be a reflection of their dominance. Last season, Manchester City conceded the highest share of goals during this period – just ahead of Chelsea - with 11 goals accounting for just under a third of those they conceded. The caveat is that many of their games were likely a formality going into the final stages, and as such late goals did not impact the final result.
While that argument may explain Chelsea’s shortcomings, Mourinho has already been left to count the cost of points dropped against his title rivals from winning positions due to late lapses in concentration.
While Chelsea have a tendency to concede late, the reigning champions, Manchester City, have the more envied habit of pouncing late. Over a third of City’s goals – 37 per cent – have come during the final 15 minutes of games. As well as Lampard’s point-saving strike against former employers Chelsea, Manuel Pellegrini’s side have snatched points from both Aston Villa and Arsenal with late goals.
Arsenal, too, have a tendency of leaving things until the last minute. Arsene Wenger’s men have scored five times in the final 15 minutes of games – the fourth-highest share of Premier League sides – and in the process rescued points against Everton and Hull, along with collecting three points from Crystal Palace. Their late showing against Anderlecht in the Champions League, in which they scored twice in the final minutes to record an unlikely victory, also reflects their tradition for late surges.