English Premier League: Two Weeks In – What Have We Learned So Far? (part 2)
Key to player dashboards (diagrams provided by FourFourTwo Stats Zone/Opta):
Everton – Full backs see most action, but Arteta key
Only one game played (due to the postponed game against Tottenham), so slightly harder to spot any recurring factors, but the two players to see the most action were the two full backs, and this was a similar case last season:
The key player for Everton still appears to be Mikel Arteta:
Despite featuring for less than half the game, Arteta made the 3rd highest amount of passes in the final third (18, Osman highest with 21, Baines next with 20 – both playing for a full game), and created the joint highest amount of chances (2). Arteta will be key to Everton’s attacks, and no wonder Arsenal are rumored to be looking at him!
Fulham – Over reliance on Murphy whilst Johnson doesn’t cut it
Fulham are still relying heavily on Murphy, just take a look:
Against Aston Villa: Top passer, most passes in final third, most chances created, joint most tackles,
Against Wolves: Top passer, most passes in final third, joint most chances created
It hasn’t helped that Simon Davies is injured (and possibly out for a further 5 months with a knee injury) and Eidur Gudjohnsen has left. In the corresponding game against Wolves last season they created a combined 9 chances between them; in this seasons game Fulham only managed 10 in total!
Another major factor in Fulham’s poor showing so far is also Andrew Johnson, who just doesn’t look up to it at this level any more:
Only 11 out of 13 against Aston Villa and 13 out of 17 successful involvements against Wolves, despite playing the whole of both games. That’s just one involvement every 6 minutes.
Compare that to Moussa Dembele, who was involved 10 times in 20 minutes against Aston Villa, and 21 times against Wolves in just 45 minutes (that’s once every 2 minutes).
Manchester City – Impressive goal threat originates from Silva
In their two games so far, City have created an impressive 43 scoring chances (21 of those from within the penalty area) – the next highest in the league is Man Utd, who have created 29 (13 inside penalty area):
Last season they were averaging around 10-12 chances per game – so an area they have definitely improved on this season. Central to this looks to be David Silva:
Given a free role, Silva drifts around the attacking half looking for space, and has created 7 chances and scored 2 goals, helping City to the top of the table:
Manchester United – Anderson becomes key, whilst wingers have two different roles
A lot was made of Paul Scholes’ retirement, and the search for a replacement, but two young players have stepped up to form a new central pairing, with Anderson the most impressive, undertaking everything you would require of a ‘complete’ midfielder:
Against West Brom: 2nd highest passer, most take ons, 2nd top tackler, 96% pass completion, 54% of passes played forward with 93% completion (sideways and backwards passes 100% completion)
Against Tottenham: top passer, top tackler, most interceptions, 88% pass completion, 73% passes forward with 86% completion (sideways and backwards passes 92% completion)
An interesting aspect has been the two preferred wingers, Ashley Young and Nani, who play in two different ways:
Young stays wide left, whilst Nani looks to move inside to get involved or for a shot. The pass received chart further shows this:
Newcastle United – Tiote key to defence, whilst Cabaye looks dangerous from crosses
Cheik Tiote is an important part to Newcastle’s two clean sheets, protecting the defence – just look at the number of tackles (yellow X) and interceptions (green diamond) above. Although one area he needs to brush up on is his passing (average 65% completion).
Meanwhile, new signing Yohan Cabaye looks dangerous if allowed to put in a cross or corner (compared to departing Joey Barton, who despite crossing at any chance, didn’t complete many):
Norwich City – New boys struggle to prevent opposition chances
Nothing specifically interesting about Norwich’s play overall, but one key weakness has been their inability to prevent chances being created:
Surprisingly they have only conceded 2 goals so far, but they could be inline for a heavy defeat when they face on of the top sides. Quite simply they lack Premier League class players.
Queens Park Rangers – Faurlin currently main man, until Taarabt improves forward passing
With all the fuss about Adel Taarabt last season, I was looking forward to seeing what impact he would have in the Premier League. But, so far, Alejandro Faurlin has been the main threat, completing twice as many passes than Taarabt against Bolton:
The main reason is have his passes are backwards, with few being played forwards and not in dangerous positions:
Stoke – Long balls still the focus
Possibly one of the biggest shocks of the second weekend was Stoke having 54% of possession against Norwich – this first time in a long while they have had over 50% – and completed a (for them) fairly impressive 79% of passes (the only teams with a higher completion so far are Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Man City, Man Utd, Swansea, West Brom and Wigan).
The focus however still looks to be long balls:
Just 13% of passes classed as ‘short’.
Sunderland – Cattermole the standout
In what has been an otherwise fairly unimpressive two performances from Sunderland, Lee Cattermole has been the standout player for them so far:
As in previous seasons, the one area he needs to cut down on to become a better player is the number of fouls conceded (black triangles).
Swansea – High possession but no end product
The new boys have held their own in terms of keeping possession in their two games so far – 58% against Man City, 64% against Wigan – but it has all been in the wrong areas.
Note the thick areas of blue in the defensive half, but the lack of comparative activity towards the final third – 18% of passes in the attacking third against Man City, 24% against Wigan, which are the lowest in the league by far (average close to 40% – Man Utd, Man City and Chelsea average 38%).
This has led to a lack of chances created – compare to that of Man City (just one chance in the penalty area!):
The reason appears to be the change in mentality entering the final third – note how the most backward passes are in the defensive third, the most square passes in the middle third, and the most forward passes are in the final third:
Tottenham – Kranjcar an able deputy for Modric
As with Everton, slightly harder to spot anything due to only one game being played.
Niko Kranjcar received negative reviews after the performance against Man Utd, but look at the dashboard below and he’s not to dissimilar from Modric:
A few more (slightly ambitious) unsuccessful passes, but certainly good enough to fill in as Modric’s deputy.
A couple of other highlights show van der Vaart is likely to be key to Tottenhams’ attacks, whilst Gareth Bale needs to improve his efficiency before he becomes a top player (only around 60% of his involvements are successful):
West Bromwich Albion – Mulumbu key, Tchoyi not effective
A player not given enough credit in this team – Mulumbu.
Against Man Utd: WBA top passer (42/44 95%), top tackler (4/5), most interceptions (4)
Against Chelsea (substituted 87th minute): WBA 3rd top passer (23/25 92%), top tackler (6/7), most interceptions (4)
Should West Brom lose Mulumbu, they could face serious problems – he breaks up play superbly, and provides simple passes to those around him – one of the closest players to Makelele, and one top teams should be watching.
Another West Brom player who has been receiving good reviews is Somen Tchoyi – but he is not very effective:
Against Man Utd: received the ball 38 times, 19 passes completed, 5 unsuccessful passes, 0/5 crosses completed, 0/4 take ons completed, 2 shots with 1 on target
Against Chelsea: received the ball 32 times, 10 passes completed, 4 unsuccessful passes, 0/1 crosses completed, 0/2 take ons completed, 2 shots with 1 on target
Peter Odemwingie should return for the next game against Stoke, and he will most likely be much more efficient.
Wigan – Watson best player
Another team who have little stand out features, Ben Watson has been the standout player:
Wolves – Johnson shores defence, Hennessey long kicks above average accuracy
A good signing for Wolves, Roger Johnson has already improved the Wolves defence:
Another key aspect from Wolves has been the above average accuracy of goal kicks from Wayne Hennessey:
Around 60% of (mostly longer) kicks have been successful, compared to an average of around 50%. Whether this is Hennessey or the two forwards, Doyle and Fletcher, is a question for another day!
Keywords: football tactics, team tactics, premier league, soccer tactics, team analysis, player analysis