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Friday 15 November 2013

Stat attack: Premier League passing into new era

A glance at the stats of the season so far show an onus on passing and attacking with style

  • Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey has won the most tackles of any player this season

As the Barclays Premier League draws breath for the international break and ahead of the traditionally busy festive period, analyses the statistics to see what is developing.

Statistics from the 2013/14 season so far appear to show the continuing evolution of the football being produced. Where traditionally the English game was renowned for a direct, physical style, over recent seasons a greater onus has been placed on the passing game in the Barclays Premier League.

Passes per match have increased significantly over the past four seasons with the current campaign's average of 888.1 dwarfing the 2007/08 figure of 716.6. Passing accuracy is also at a record high of 81.2%, a marked improvement from the 70.5% that was recorded in the 2006/07 season.

Pass masters

The chief exponent of the art of passing so far this term has been Manchester City's Yaya Toure, whose 834 successful passes places him in a league of his own in the category. To put that figure into context, the player with the second-best pass-completion stats is Arsenal's Aaron Ramsey, with 686.

Most successful passer
Yaya Toure (Man City) 834
Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal) 686
Michael Carrick (Man United) 668
Steven Gerrard (Liverpool) 656
Chico Flores (Swansea) 608

Dribbling back

The art of dribbling has also made a welcome return with the figure of 35.7 dribbles attempted per match this season considerably higher than the 26.7 tried seven years ago. It is a figure greater than the 31.3 averaged last term and one that suggests a new high will be attained by May.

More importantly, it suggests that fans of the Barclays Premier League are being treated to a more attack-minded form of the game. Running at pace with the ball has been best personified by Andros Townsend, whose 55 completed dribbles not only make him the best in the Barclays Premier League by a distance  (Ross Barkley is second in the charts with 31), but have helped lead to his international call-up.

Most dribbles completed
Andros Townsend (Spurs) 55
Ross Barkley (Everton) 31
Fabian Delph (Aston Villa) 27
Eden Hazard (Chelsea) 26
Mousa Demble (Spurs) 26

Heading off

The focus on possession and quick, short passing has  led to a reduction in crosses being made, with 29.8 centres per match the lowest since 2003/04, when the figure stood at 42. This explains why headed attempts on goal are at their lowest ever level of 4 per match.

Indeed, the dearth of crosses across the board is what makes Christian Benteke such a unique threat for Aston Villa, his 72 headers won this term put him head and shoulders above the competition, despite having missed almost three matches through injury.

Aerial challenges won
Christian Benteke (Aston Villa) 72
Marouane Chamakh (Crystal Palace) 67
Olivier Giroud (Arsenal) 58
Curtis Davies (Hull) 54
Mile Jedinak (Crystal Palace) 52

There have been a record low proportion of goals scored from indirect free-kicks (6%), suggesting the policy of launching long balls into the area is on the wane, while the rate of goals from direct free-kicks is at a high of 5.6%, another likely indication of an improvement in technical quality on display.

Ramsey form

Total goals per match are down on the 2.81 high of two seasons ago, although this figure is perhaps a by-product of the competitive nature of a league in which any team can suffer a defeat, regardless of their position in the table, and in which just six points separate the top eight teams.

Tackles won
Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal) 44
Joel Ward (Crystal Palace) 38
Mile Jedinak (Crystal Palace) 36
Lucas Leiva (Liverpool) 35
Karim El Ahmadi (Aston Villa) 35

The first among those equals are Arsenal, whose impressive early season form owes a great debt to the individual displays of Ramsey, who has won the most tackles in the Barclays Premier League and also has made the joint-most goal assists.

Second-placed Liverpool's shotgun start to the campaign is backed up by the eight goals apiece that Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez have mustered, with the England striker boasting the most shots on goal (35). The sharpest shooter, however, is Man City's Sergio Aguero whose goals-to-shots ratio is an unrivalled 66.7%.

Player Total Shots Total Goals Shot accuracy (%)
Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool) 35 8 51.4
Luis Suarez (Liverpool) 30 8 50
Sergio Aguero 27 8 66.7
Olivier Giroud 30 5 40
Wayne Rooney 27 5 55.6

At the other end of the pitch Tim Krul won all the plaudits for his show-stopping, and Spurs-stopping, goalkeeping display last weekend, as he managed a Barclays Premier League record high of 14 saves in a single match. He is second in the total saves chart, however, 11 behind Cardiff City’s David Marshall, who has denied opponents on 51 occasions so far.

Player Saves
David Marshall (Cardiff) 51
Tim Krul (Newcastle) 40
Simon Mignolet (Liverpool) 39
John Ruddy (Norwich) 37
Asmir Begovic (Stoke) 36


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