One of the great things about Stats Zone
is that you can share your screens via Twitter, Facebook, email and so
on. Another of the great things about Stats Zone is that if we see your
screen and like it, we'll give you the credit on a blog like this…
Watching Liverpool host Arsenal, @wrjones72 shared the Player Influence screen, which shows players' average positions (the bigger their name, the more their involvement in the game). Note the concentration of touches around the centre circle, where Arsenal's tight midfield triangle was up against Joe Allen and Steven Gerrard – while Liverpool were keen to spread the ball wide to overlapping full-backs Jose Enrique and Glen Johnson.
Southampton vs Manchester United was an excellent game, with @jamiedurent (and many others) admiring Michael Carrick's "passing clinic". As @DanCross88 noted, Carrick (115/126) completed more than twice as many passes as anyone else (Morgan Schneiderlin was second with 57/64) and trended on Twitter – but as Nick Govier noted on FourFourTwo.com yesterday, substitute Paul Scholes created three chances in his half-hour to Carrick's two in 90 minutes.
Saturday's games also prompted heated debate. With Andy Carroll imperious for new club West Ham against Fulham, there was much discussion of the "long-ball game". @luke_stockdale noted that "12% of West Ham's passes were long balls – not that many". Indeed, 54 of West Ham's 453 attempted passes were "long" – defined by Opta as 30 yards or more – and just 19 of the 379 completed passes (5%) were long.
Carroll obviously gives West Ham the early-ball option, but contrary to much popular belief long passes are almost inevitably less successful as a percentage rate, especially if the target man isn't supported. However, @Zonal_Marking noted that Fulham's headed clearances – unlike their hosts' – were all being picked up by their opponents, with typical Allardyce attention to winning the second ball.
Another big man impressing was Joleon Lescott. After a month in which Manchester City have chased (and signed) new defenders, against QPR the England man set about "proving he deserves a starting place this season", as @willowsj put it. Lescott completed 70/71 passes, adding a tackle, interception and block. He also made 13 clearances and attempted 9 aerial duels, winning 5. Mancini – and Hodgson – take note.
Finally, evidence that for all the changes brought about by Andre 'AVB' Villas-Boas, some Spurs bugbears remain the same. Last season many Tottenham fans thought Harry Redknapp was too willing to let Gareth Bale play where he wants – and as @CharlieTHFC_ tersely noted of his team against Norwich, "Bale and Lennon far too narrow. Effective out wide." What's Portuguese for "plus ça change, plus ça même chose"?
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