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Talking Tactics

Stats stars: Rodri and Gundogan control the centre

Adrian Clarke 30 May 2020

Adrian Clarke looks at the central and defensive midfielders who have shone brightest in the Premier League this season so far

Adrian Clarke looks at the standout individual statistics by position in the 2019/20 Premier League season so far.

Central and defensive midfielders

When it comes to distribution, Manchester City duo Rodri and Ilkay Gundogan are the best midfielders in the Premier League.

Controlling possession for Pep Guardiola’s side, they complete more successful passes inside the opposition half than anyone else.

Remarkably they also boast the greatest accuracy, too.

Key to this has been former Atletico Madrid player Rodri, who has enjoyed a successful debut season as City's midfield orchestrator.

The 23-year-old has made the most successful passes in the opposition half while maintaining the best accuracy.

Passing by midfielders 2019/20
Succ. passes in opp. half Pass accuracy in opp. half
Rodri (MCI) 1069 Rodri (MCI) 90.6%
Ilkay Gundogan (MCI) 898 Ilkay Gundogan (MCI) 89.9%
Jorginho (CHE) 866 Georginio Wijnaldum (LIV) 89.9%
Mateo Kovacic (CHE) 811 Harry Winks (TOT) 88.1%
Fred (MUN) 770 Matteo Guendouzi (ARS) 86.3%

Gundogan's continued importance is highlighted by the fact the 29-year-old has made more key passes from open play than any other player in his position.

And while Rodri's ability to take charge in the middle third is well known, he has shown he too can create a number of goalscoring opportunities. 

He has made only two fewer open-play key passes than Gundogan and features in the top five along with a pair of Manchester United midfielders.

Most key passes in open play
2019/20 Key passes
Ilkay Gundogan (MCI) 29
Fred (MUN) 28
Andreas Pereira (MUN) 28
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (SOU) 28
Rodri (MCI) 27

Leicester City’s Wilfred Ndidi and West Ham United's Declan Rice are two of the competition's most highly-rated defensive midfielders.

Both lead the way for most tackles won and interceptions made. 

Rice has also made an impressive 249 ball recoveries, putting him second behind the 286 of Southampton midfielder Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg who also features in the table above.

Best defensive midfielders
Most tackles won Most interceptions
Wilfred Ndidi (LEI) 47 Wilfred Ndidi (LEI) 61
Declan Rice (WHU) 46 Declan Rice (WHU) 61
Joao Moutinho (WOL) 45 Etienne Capoue (WAT) 61
Philip Billing (BOU) 42 Philip Billing (BOU) 59
James McArthur (CRY) 40 Jorginho (CHE) 57

With nine goals between them, Sheffield United pair John Lundstram and John Fleck have built a reputation for their impact in advanced areas.

Lundstram’s powerful surges into the box have been a feature of the Blades’ impressive return to the top flight and he has had the most shots in the box among central midfielders.

Meanwhile, the energy and dynamism of Georginio Wijnaldum has allowed him to consistently support Liverpool’s attacking players.

Wijnaldum ranks highly for both touches and shots in the opposition box, along with Aston Villa's John McGinn and two Crystal Palace midfielders.

Biggest impact in opposition box
Touches in opp. box Shots in box
James McArthur (CRY) 65 John Lundstram (SHU) 26
Georginio Wijnaldum (LIV) 53 Cheikhou Kouyate (CRY) 19
Cheikhou Kouyate (CRY) 52 Georginio Wijnaldum (LIV) 17
John McGinn (AVL) 49 John McGinn (AVL) 16
John Lundstram (SHU) 47 John Fleck (SHU) 15
Also in this series

Part 1: Stats stars: Dubravka among league's best goalkeepers
Part 2: Stats stars: Pereira edges Wan-Bissaka as top tackler
Part 4: Stats stars: De Bruyne the most creative player
Part 5: Stats stars: Why Salah offers much more than goals

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