Yesterday I had a look at the strikers and relevant statistics. Now it’s time to have a look at the midfield. Statistics cannot really prove who is or isn’t a good midfielder. But they can certainly provide some food for thought.
The following table shows this season’s figures for prominent midfielders at top clubs
M: Matches; Min: Minutes; G: Goals; A: Assists; S: Total Shots; SoT: Shots on Target; TP: Total Passes; AP: Accurate Passes; %PA: Passing Accuracy; Min/P: Minutes per pass; TW: Tackles Won; TL: Tackles Lost; %ST: Successful Tackles Percentage
Our midfield is dominated by three men this season. Chelsea also have a relatively established group. United on the other hand have rotated heavily and many players have appeared in 6 or more fixtures. Liverpool have mostly played with five across the middle.
Cesc doesn’t need any numbers to prove his class, but the stats above do show that he has consistently out performed the likes of Lampard and Gerrard. His goals to shots ratio is much better than the others. The new role certainly allows him the freedom to get into dangerous positions and his finishing skills are exemplary.
The shooting stats for Lampard, Gerrard, Kuyt and Essien show that they have a significantly lower accuracy. This is likely to be a result of a large number of shots from outside the box.
Cesc also makes a pass every 1.2 minutes. A stat matched by Essien and bettered only by Mascherano (0.9). This highlights the box to box nature of his game and the amount of movement involved. In a way, El Capitan can take on the likes of Gerrard and Lampard at their game, while doing the same with Essien and Mascherano!
Arsenal and Chelsea midfielders have a higher passing accuracy than those from United and Liverpool. These players also get on the ball more often as shown by the lower minutes per pass ratio. Our players will always have a high passing accuracy, especially if we are doing well, but it is interesting to note that Chelsea have matched that. It might be down to a different style of play under Ancelotti.
United have scored only 23 goals in the league this season. Giggs has 6 assists out of those 23. Evra is the next best with 3. To me, this highlights a lack of quality in the United midfield. It is down to their tactics and reputation that they are still third in the league. This is the weakest squad they have had for years and if teams start playing a more positive game against them, we will see them struggle to stay close to the top.
Liverpool have a well defined approach. Clearly, Mascherano and Lucas are their defensive players and the onus of creativity falls on Gerrard, Kuyt and Benayoun. They lack a creative playmaker and these stats confirm that they will struggle this season unless Torres and Gerrard keep performing in every game.
Diaby is a pleasant surprise. He can certainly hold his own against the likes of Ballack, Fletcher, Carrick and Lucas. It is nice to see that our most vilified (and I too am guilty of that) players are good enough to compete with the best in business.
These numbers aren’t the be-all and end-all of football, but they certainly point towards a two horse race for the title. The month end game will decide who will take the lead.