According to Harry Redknapp, it seems a strop in the Gameweek 16 clash with Wigan could be the turning point in Adel Taarabt’s 2012/13 campaign. While the Moroccan took unkindly to being subbed off during the draw against Roberto Martinez’s outfit, it afforded his new boss the chance to sit Taarabt down and, following an inspired piece of man-management, saw the playmaker lead QPR to their first win of the season with a 2-1 win over Fulham last weekend.
“He can be a bit of a nut at times but his heart’s in the right place. I had a good chat with him after I took him off [against Aston Villa] last week. He wasn’t in the best of moods and he didn’t behave in the best of ways. But I had him in my office on Monday morning and had a good heart-to-heart chat with him and he’s responded to that. I said to him, ‘don’t throw your arms up when you lose the ball, don’t stand with your hands on your head. Just get after the ball if you lose it, otherwise everyone sees you have made a mistake. He’s temperamental, he is the way he is, but he’s an amazing talent.”
With an arm around his shoulder, Taarabt was eased into a central role for Saturday’s London derby as Redknapp tinkered with his attacking options for the visit of Martin Jol’s side. As the maps below highlight, against Wigan (left), the Moroccan mainly received the ball on the right, whereas a weekend license to wander saw him crop up all across the attacking third, affording Taarabt the chance to influence matters from wherever he deemed fit.
Looking at Taarabt’s display against Fulham in comparison to his previous performances over the course of the season, it’s clear he’s stepped up another level. While his minutes per touch (1.1 to 1.2) and passed received in the final third (15 to 15.7) were almost identical, the Moroccan was afforded more time and space to affect matters further up the pitch – he had 44 touches in the final third, up considerably from an average 29.3 across his opening 16 Gameweeks.
|Mins/Tch||Tchs Final 3rd||Pass Rcvd Final 3rd||Dribbles||Succ Dribbles||Tchs Pen Box||Shots||Shots in Box||Shot Acc|
|Taarabt GW 17||1.1||44||15||7||5||2||7||0||42.9%|
|Taarabt GW 1-16||1.2||29.3||15.7||5.2||2.8||2.7||3.7||1.2||31.8%|
Clearly, Redknapp’s words of wisdom seem to have bolstered Tarrabt’s confidence. He attempted seven dribbles against the Cottagers – up on his average of 5.2 – and more significantly, five were successful in the 2-1 win, almost double his previous average of 2.8.
Taarabt’s penchant for a long-range effort also seemed to move up a notch, too. Although he had just two touches in the penalty box last Saturday, he still managed seven attempts on goal; all from outside the area. Again, this was nearly twice his previous average of 3.7 and, filled with self-belief, his accuracy leapt from 31.8% to 42.9% – a clear indication that Redknapp’s words seem to have emboldened the Moroccan. Post-match, the player admitted the new man in charge has made all the difference:
“He is a peerless motivator. You believe you are the best player in the world when he talks to you. Before matches he is very strong. When you go on the pitch you fear nothing. At the end of the match against Fulham, he came to me to say, ‘I told you that you were as good as Berbatov’.”
Season So Far
While a Fantasy Premier League (FPL) haul of 51 points hints at a distinctly underwhelming campaign so far, Taarabt’s Opta stats indicate just how consistent his displays have been. Mark Hughes’ summer of spending may have left the R’s squad bloated and continually prone to rotation but Redknapp already seems to recognise the key to his side’s quest for survival is the man he sold to the Loftus Road outfit back in 2010:
“He can do things that nobody else can do. No one can do what he can do. He’s amazing. He nutmegs people and he goes past two or three and they’re hanging on to him but they can’t get the ball off him. But I never wanted to let him go at Tottenham, I was scared to let him go. I always felt he had a value even if he wasn’t starting. He can be a top, top player. He’s got ability like not many people you’ve ever seen in your life. He’s like Di Canio, who I thought was a fantastic player, one of the all-time greats at West Ham. This boy is the same.”
Analysing midfielders who have started at least half of their respective sides’ games so far, Taarabt is fourth in our top five for “Minutes per Chance Created” this season. Only three players – David Silva, Juan Mata and Chris Brunt -have provided a key passes at a quicker rate than Taarabt’s average of 31.7 minutes. The QPR playmaker exceeds the rate of more established Fantasy favourites such as Santi Cazorla (33.5), Gareth Bale (40.1) and Eden Hazard (42.6), yet despite creating a total of 35 goalscoring opportunities for team mates – the sixth highest midfielder – has picked up just two assists.
|Mins/ Chance Created||Total Chances Created||Assists|
A cause for further optimism can be found in the display of Djibril Cisse against the Cottagers. Having been benched in the previous game, the Frenchman returned to the lone forward role and, while he failed to score, his performance suggests Redknapp’s words have boosted his confidence. Cisse fired eight shots last weekend and managed an attempt on goal with each of his five touches in the box against Fulham – he had previously mustered 21 efforts in the box from 38 touches and is clearly getting his shots away quicker. With Taarabt creating chances aplenty behind him, Cisse could be set for an upturn in fortunes, having found the net just twice this term.
Once again, by reducing the midfield contenders to those who have started at least half their respective sides’ games, Taarabt is again amongst the most impressive when it comes to threatening the opposition goal. Indeed, he is the only midfielder to feature in the top five for both categories – a clear sign of his Fantasy potential and indicative of the type of talent Redknapp has on his hands.
|Mins/ Shot||Total Shots||Shots in Box||Shots On Target||Goals|
Over his 1109 minutes played so far, Taarabt has averaged an attempt on goal every 21.7 minutes – superior to any other midfield regular, with north London duo Gareth Bale and Santi Cazorla tucked in behind on 24.2 and 26.7 minutes respectively. What’s obvious, though, is his penchant for long-range efforts. While Taarabt has equalled Marouane Fellaini in terms of overall attempts, with 51 apiece, only 14 of his efforts have come from inside the penalty area – compare that to the Everton man’s 42 and it’s clear the Moroccan’s attempts have been more speculative in the main.
Nevertheless, Taarabt has managed only three efforts on target less than Fellaini, highlighting his greater accuracy – indeed, only Bale (25), Cazorla (22) and Michu (21) have registered more shots on target from midfield than Taarabt. When you consider the lofty company the Moroccan keeps across the key attacking statistics, his failure to produce the Fantasy returns is highly frustrating.
With Marouane Fellaini’s three-match ban forcing Fantasy to reassess their midfield options ahead of the weekend deadline, Taarabt has picked up plenty new ownership over the last few days. A kind FPL price tag of 5.6 has persuaded more than 28,000 to draft in the Moroccan, despite the fact he sits on four yellows – a booking in any of his next three will earn him an automatic one-match ban.
Even if he avoids the referee’s wrath, his upcoming African Cup of Nations duties means Taarabt will only be available for the next four (new, WBA, LIV, che) before he heads off to represent his country, though QPR could attempt to seek special dispensation to keep him for the Gameweek 22 showdown with former club Spurs. If he continues in the same vein as last weekend, though, Taarabt’s short-term acquisition could well be worthwhile over the festive period, with a 3% FPL ownership highlighting his differential appeal.
*The Technical Area is put together using the statistics and maps available in our members area. For access to such data and tools on every player, team and match of the 2012/13 season, and for exclusive members articles like this, click here for details.