We delve into the data this evening in our first members article of the week. Chelsea’s midfielders arrive under analysis after their 4-1 mauling of Bournemouth, whilst we also check in on Sunderland’s top scorer and Liverpool’s displays at both ends of the pitch ahead of double Gameweek 37.
13 shots on target by Daniel Sturridge in his last six outings is second only to Harry Kane’s 16. Having finally proved his fitness under Jurgen Klopp, Sturridge has racked up five goals and two assists from Gameweek 31 onwards, averaging an effort on goal every 18.7 minutes – quicker than both Kane (20 minutes) and Sergio Aguero (25.6), for example. Sturridge – who played 93 minutes less than Kane over the featured period – is also second only to the Spurs frontman for total attempts (25 to 28) and has managed just two efforts in the box fewer (16 to 18) ahead of Liverpool’s double Gameweek 37.
6 efforts inside the opposition box by Shane Long was more than any player in the Gameweek. Southampton’s trip to Villa saw Graziano Pelle’s run of six successive starts surprisingly come to an end as Ronald Koeman opted for the pacey Republic of Ireland international as the lone striker in a 4-2-3-1 set-up instead. Long also led the way for touches inside the box (17) in the Gameweek and played a part in the Saints’ three strikes, courtesy of a goal and two assists, to take his tally to two goals and four assists in his last four league outings. When comparing the two strikers, the more mobile Long clearly thrives on the road – he betters Pelle for touches in the box (6.6 to 4.6), efforts in the box (2.3 to 1.3), and for frequency of both shots (30.3 minutes to 46.5) and key passes (59 minutes to 69.8). At St Mary’s, though, it’s a different matter altogether, where Pelle’s physical presence is far more of a factor – he leads Long for touches in the box (8.5 to 4.4), efforts in the box (3.3 to 1.4), and for frequency of both shots (21.7 to 41.9) and key passes (62.8 to 69.8). In light of last week’s display, then, Koeman may well look to utilise more pace on the road in order to address the problems that had seen his side score just 14 times in 17 away matches prior to their 4-2 win at Villa Park.
9 chances created by Simon Francis over the last three Gameweeks is more than any defender. This coincides with the return of Tommy Elphick to the Bournemouth back-four, which has allowed Francis to shift from centre-half to his customary right-back berth once again. Despite playing the likes of Liverpool and Chelsea during that period, Francis sits third-top for crosses (22) and top for successful crosses (nine) from the back on his way to earning a pair of assists. Delving into the data, Francis clearly benefits from his understanding with Elphick in the Cherries’ defence – he has now started at right-back in eight top-flight matches with Elphick on board and delivered an assist on four of those occasions.
4 shots inside the box by Chelsea pair Pedro and Willian during the 4-1 win at Bournemouth on Saturday was joint-top for midfielders and double the number of team-mate Eden Hazard. Although the Belgian hogged the headlines by bagging a brace upon his return from injury, the average position map shows that Willian (number 22) and Pedro (number 17) were more or less on a par with Hazard (number 10) when in possession. Indeed, ahead of the Blues’ double Gameweek 37, Pedro’s stats particularly catch the eye. Over the last four rounds of fixtures, his eight shots inside the box is bettered by only three other midfielders, whilst the former Barcelona man has netted three times during that period – second only to Alexis Sanchez (five) in the centre of the park. Compared to his previous displays, Pedro’s close-range threat is clearly on the up – although his minutes per shot (from 37.2 to 37.3) is virtually identical, his touches in the box (from 3.9 to 5.5), efforts in the area (from 1.0 to 2.0), shot accuracy (from 23.3% to 33.3%) and goal conversion (from 9.3% to 33.3%) have significantly improved of late.
13 shots inside the box by Jermain Defoe over his last four matches is second only to Andy Carroll. Although he’s scored just once over that period, the Sunderland striker has produced 15 efforts on goal and sits second for touches in the opposition box (34) to Shane Long (38). When compared to his previous displays in the first 31 Gameweeks, Defoe – who produced three close-range efforts in the goalless draw with Arsenal – has clearly upped his threat of late. The Black Cats’ top scorer has seen a jump in numbers for touches in the box (from 2.7 to 8.5), efforts in the area (from 1.4 to 3.2) and minutes per attempt (from 36.8 to 25.5). Frustratingly for Big Sam, though, Defoe’s shot accuracy (from 49.1% to 26.7%) and goal conversion rate (from 21.8% to 6.7%) have both dropped despite the upturn in scoring opportunities.
7 shots on goal by Liverpool full-back pair Nathaniel Clyne and Alberto Moreno is joint-top amongst defenders over their respective last four matches. Intriguingly, the pair are also neck and neck for key passes over that period, with seven apiece – only two defenders have managed more. After failing to translate his underlying numbers into Fantasy returns, Moreno has finally come good in his last four outings and served up a goal and three assists over that period, compared to a single assist in the first 31 Gameweeks. Although his goal threat has quickened (from 76.4 minutes per attempt to 54.1), Moreno’s threat has been solely from distance and despite the upturn in Fantasy output, his creativity has dropped over the two periods (from 45.5 minutes per key pass to 54.1). Ironically, of the two, it’s Clyne – who missed out through illness last weekend – who has made the major improvement. His minutes per shot (from 121.1 to 54.3) and key pass (from 156.8 to 54.3) have stepped up significantly, whilst he leads Moreno by four to zero for efforts inside the box.
6 key passes by Cesc Fabregas and Dele Alli was joint-top for the Gameweek. Whilst the latter could be set to miss the rest of the season in light of his FA charge for violent conduct, the Chelsea playmaker has earned over 6,000 new owners on the back of his trio of assists in the 4-1 win at Bournemouth. Analysing Fabregas’ numbers since returning to the first XI in Gameweek 31, there’s been a definite improvement in his attacking numbers. In the final third, the Spaniard’s touches (from 26.9 to 35.8), passes received (from 19.2 to 23.8) and successful passes (from 16.6 to 18.2) have all stepped up, as have his frequency of both shots (from 78.6 minutes to 59.9) and key passes (from 51.2 minutes to 34.2). As a result, he’s played a part in 50% of the Blues’ goals compared to 15.4% beforehand.
10 touches in the penalty area by Arsenal duo Alexis Sanchez and Alex Iwobi was more than any other midfielder. The duo fired five and four shots respectively in the Gunners’ goalless draw against Sunderland, as Sanchez’ run of eight successive points hauls came to an end. Although the Chilean’s recent form has richly rewarded his owners, Iwobi more than holds his own despite serving up three straight blanks. Since making his first start in Gameweek 31, the Nigerian international is joint-top amongst midfielders for shots inside the box (with 11 to Sanchez and Mesut Ozil on ten apiece), whilst his six efforts on target is bettered only by Sanchez (11) and Andros Townsend (seven). Given that he also sits fourth for touches in the box (31) and sixth for total attempts (13) over that period, his owners may well look to hold ahead of home clashes with Norwich and Villa in the next three.
16 big chances for Leicester in the last four matches is at least five more than any other side. Bearing in mind they had previously averaged just 2.2 big chances per match, the jump to 4.0 shows that Claudio Ranieri’s side have upped the quality of their scoring opportunities in recent weeks. At a time where many thought the Foxes would grind their way to the title, they’ve also improved their attempts in the box (from 8.5 to 9.8), shot accuracy (from 34.4% to 43.1%) and goal conversion rate (from 13.3% to 17.6%) to move within three points of the crown.
121.8 minutes per goal by Kelechi Iheanacho is bettered only by Sergio Aguero (98.1) and Daniel Sturridge (105.1) for frontmen. Handed a role alongside the Argentine in City’s 4-0 demolition of Stoke, the Nigerian produced five attempts on goal to Aguero’s one (before the latter made way on 65 minutes) and bagged a brace, with three shots on target more than any forward in the Gameweek. Although Iheanacho’s average of 35.8 minutes per shot is inferior to Wilfried Bony’s 20.6, he betters the Ivorian for goals scored (five to four) in almost half the pitch time (609 minutes to 1196). With an impressive 29.4% conversion rate (Aguero has netted 20.9% of his chances by comparison), Iheanacho’s numbers suggest he could be poised to make more of an impact on Pep Guardiola’s plans once the Spaniard takes the Etihad hotseat next term.