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@theweekend: Tricky Toffees Frustrate Harry, Magical Miyaichi, Mata & Drogba

March 12, 2012

Our weekly dose of statistical analysis from the Premier League at the weekend…

Everton 1-0 Tottenham : Spurs Miss Chances As Osman Makes The Difference…

I just couldn’t see how we lost the game. From the first whistle of the second half to the last we absolutely battered Everton, but we just couldn’t get a break in front of goal.

– Tottenham manager, Harry Redknapp (via guardian.co.uk)

Spurs suffered a third defeat on the spin at Everton on Saturday, despite dominating the second period in particular. Manager Harry Redknapp was left dismayed and disappointed by Tottenham’s misfortune of not scoring at least one goal from their seventeen second-half efforts on Tim Howard’s goal, although in truth the fact that only three were on-target (a further five were blocked, meaning nine off-target attempts) suggests that their ‘misfortune’ was more self-inflicted. That said, Louis Saha did hit the post against his formed club and Jermain Defoe did have a goal ruled offside (correctly) in an utterly dominant second half display by London’s currently highest-placed club. The fact that Everton mustered a meagre one second-half shot of any description in comparison paints a highly revealing picture…

That Spurs dominated the second period is not the full story however. The Toffees knocked the ball around comfortably in the first period and were good value for their lead, although in truth neither ‘keeper was repeatedly tested before half-time. Leon Osman was instrumental in Everton’s best play, creating two chances for teammates including the jinking run and neat assisting pass for Nikica Jelavić’s 22nd-minute winning goal. It is Osman that has perhaps benefitted most from Mikel Arteta’s departure to Arsenal – he has adjusted nicely from adaptable bit-part player to cemented midfield starter and currently boasts the highest pass success rate amongst Everton’s regular players this season at 83.3% (although at just 83rd in the country this does not perhaps reflect well on Everton’s overall ball-retention, especially with Arsenal’s Arteta 8th on the list). Regardless, Osman impressed whilst in possession, and also helped provide excellent cover for his defence too, making five interceptions across the ninety minutes…

Gareth Bale struggled to make an impact from an unexpected role down the right flank, as evinced by where he received his passes in the first period (below left). Redknapp’s logic in fielding Bale on the right in order to curtail Leighton Baines’s attacking instincts was undoubtedly sound in principle, although unfortunately for Spurs it inhibited one of their most potent weapons and undoubtedly contributed to their somewhat lacklustre first period. Prior to switching flanks and drifting centrally as half-time approached and for the second-period, it was telling that Bale had attempted just three passes (two successful) in Everton’s final third whilst down the right flank. Redknapp adjusted his team shortly after Everton took the lead and although Spurs were to dominate after the interval (with Bale making eighteen final-third passes after switching), they were already behind a Jelavić-induced proverbial eight-ball and ultimately failed to get back on level terms…

Bolton 2-1 QPR : Fortune Favours Trotters As Magical Miyaichi Impresses…

We have to demand that their performances are better. The referee was let down by his assistant. Clearly the ball was over the line. The linesman is there to see that.

– QPR manager, Mark Hughes (via bbc.co.uk)

There is no doubting that fortune favoured Owen Coyle’s side on Saturday – Clint Hill’s 20th-minute header should have stood for the visitors but was not given despite clearing the goal line by around a foot. However, despite Mark Hughes’s protests that ‘key moments and key decisions in games are going against [his side]’ he would have done well to note that their equalising goal (although it ultimately counted for nothing) was offside and should not have stood. But we’ll let that one slide, eh Sparky…

Bolton’s most eye-catching player was Arsenal loanee Ryo Miyaichi – the Japanese youngster provided much of the attacking and creative impetus that the Trotters have missed with Stuart Holden and Chung-Yong Lee’s injury-induced extended absences this season. Miyaichi created an impressive seven chances for the hosts, including the 86th-minute assist for Ivan Klasnić’s winning goal, and regularly displayed his attacking mindset with nine take-ons, albeit with just two successful. Allied to his impressive ball retention (91% pass completion, including 14/14 passes in QPR’s final-third), such industrious creativity will go along way to helping Bolton stay up this season…

Bolton were also indebted to Mark Davies for an excellent all-round central midfield display. Davies finished with a 95% pass completion rate (38/40), including 20/21 successful passes in QPR’s final third (although, when combined with Miyaichi’s high passing % in QPR’s final third would suggest that QPR are not defending as well as they should be). Defensively he was also excellent, winning three of his four tackles and making three further interceptions. By contrast, his opposite number Shaun Derry failed to attempt (let alone win!) a single tackle all afternoon and made a meagre 22 passes as QPR slid to another defeat…

Chelsea 1-0 Stoke : Drogba And Mata Combine To Down Unambitious Stoke…

Having John [Terry] back is obviously a positive for us, and we defended really well and deserved our clean sheet. He’s got massive experience and we were solid.

– Chelsea’s Gary Cahill (via chelseafc.com)

Chelsea claimed a second successive win under Roberto Di Matteo, albeit by a slender one-goal margin. They were undoubtedly helped by Ricardo Fuller’s moment of madness, as ten-man Stoke struggled to make any real impression on the game. That Stoke mustered a paltry and frankly embarrassing 59 passes (from 97 attempted) in the entire first half gives an indication of their lack of ambition for the afternoon, although the returning John Terry deserves credit for stamping out what little threat Stoke did offer, winning five of seven aerial duels when the Potters eventually sent the ball long towards Kenwyne Jones…

Fuller’s red card enabled Di Matteo to make an early pro-active substitution after realising that the need for two ‘sitting’ midfielders (John Obi Mikel and Raul Meireles) against ten men was an unnecessary excess, especially with John Walters no longer ‘in the hole’ but on the left of a 4-4-1 formation. Meireles was duly sacrificed having had less of an impact than Mikel on proceedings to that point (see below left) and with Di Matteo determining that the Nigerian was more suited to the lone holding role in the 4-1-4-1 formation to which Chelsea shifted. Juan Mata was brought on, and the importance of his belated introduction to Chelsea’s victory can be seen on the Player Influence board for 38-93 minutes (below right) – not only was he the most involved player, but also the furthest forward (often in advance of Didier Drogba)…

Didier’s was big goal for the team as well as for him, so he will be very pleased for his 100th league goal. He has been great for this club.

– Chelsea manager, Roberto Di Matteo (via chelseafc.com)

It was Mata’s introduction which had the biggest influence on Chelsea’s win. The Spaniard created five goal-scoring opportunities for teammates, joint most on the pitch with Saloman Kalou (who had a full ninety minutes) and one more than Frank Lampard (who benefited from taking corners). Mata’s creative nous eventually told, with a deft through-ball setting up Drogba for Chelsea’s winning goal. It was also Drogba’s 100th Premier League goal, a fine achievement no doubt, although his afternoon was mixed to say the least. The Ivorian displayed the best of his talents – the touch and finish to round and beat Asmir Begović, an excellent free-kick, the ability to consistently occupy and challenge one of the league’s most physical defences – as well as signs that his then-33-year-old star (he turned 34 the day after the game) is on the wane – just eight successful passes (from twenty attempted, including four failed crosses) across the ninety minutes, a remarkably low competion rate of just 40%, three fouls conceded (the most in the game), no chances created for teammates, and just three shots all afternoon (one of which was a free-kick, another a blocked speculative 35-yarder). However, he got the vital goal, and it was flashback to the Drogba of old combined with a sprinkling of magic from the decidedly ‘newer’ Juan Mata that ultimately took the Blues to three points on Saturday. Given the frustrations endured by Chelsea fans this season, they won’t be too fussed how the goals and points arrive as long as they do. For now, old and new will do just fine…

Norwich 1-1 Wigan : Wigan Superb But Spurn Glorious Chances…

We looked the more dangerous side and created the better chances. We also kept Norwich very quiet.

– Wigan manager, Roberto Martínez (via wiganlatics.co.uk)

A few quick words on the draw at Carrow Road, focused firmly on the visitors. Firstly, Wigan were superb – they limited Norwich, passed the ball well, played with pace and energy and created more chances than their hosts. Therein lay their failure to secure what would have been a deserved – and vital – win however: Hugo Rodallega failed to score from eight attempts, only hitting the target twice in the process, and substitute Mohamed Diamé spurned two glorious late chances to claim all three points…

In the middle of the pitch James McArthur and James McCarthy were superb for the Latics – the former successfully completed a whopping 76 of 90 attempted passes (84%) as he dictated play in the middle of the park, whilst the latter was not only tidily efficient in possession (44/48 passes, 92% completion), but made four interceptions and won three of five tackles. Similarly excellent afternoons by both will be needed many times over as the season draws to a close should Wigan wish to maintain their top flight status…

We saw his [Victor Moses’s] real threat and the pace he has in getting behind the defence. His clinical finish was something special; we all know the talent he’s got and we’re extremely proud to have him at the football club. – Martínez

Victor Moses also deserves praise for his willing and aggressive running, attempting a game-high ten take-ons (four successful) over the ninety minutes. Moses was deservedly rewarded with Wigan’s equalising goal. Finally, a word on Wigan’s woes, focused firmly on Gary Caldwell. The Scottish centre-back failed to attempt a single tackle on Sunday and was beaten to the ball by Wes Hoolahan for Norwich’s goal – had Caldwell attacked the cross he would probably have got to the ball before the Canaries’ goalscorer, but instead he casually waited for the cross with the intent of volleying clear when a more aggressive approach could have kept the ball out of Ali Al-Habsi’s net. Wigan’s defence – with Caldwell at its heart – has all too often been their downfall this season, and is perhaps the area that Roberto Martínez needs to address most should Wigan hope to stay up this season…

Further Premier League analysis to follow…

fourfourtwo.com/statszone

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One Comment leave one →
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