Everton FC: 5 Premier League Stats That Tell the Story of the Season
Statistics are experiencing a major boom in and around the game of football.
The depth of information, differing categories and overall level of detail seem to be improving all the time, as is the material available to fans.
With this rush of information, it's important to establish the correct criteria needed in each case when building an argument. While they become instantly addictive, several numbers are simply interesting observations instead of genuine revelations.
Statistics can certainly be misleading at times and often construed in several different ways. However, in the right context, they expose important information and add a substantial layer to in-depth analysis.
Here's a look at five statistics that emphasis some of the key characteristics of Everton's season so far.
Baines' Creative Supremacy
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It's impossible to assess Everton's season in statistics without first highlighting the remarkable creative input of Leighton Baines.
The England man has created a mammoth 84 chances in the Premier League this season. That's an incredible 17 more than any other player in the English top flight and 26 percent of Everton's overall chances. He's also fashioned out 14 clear-cut chances, three more than any other player.
Taking it further than just the Premier League, WhoScored show how he's actually created more chances than any player in Europe's five major leagues, again by that considerable margin of 17.
If that's not staggering enough, it has to be remembered this is all contributed from left-back. In the Premier League, Baines has created a whopping 39 more chances than the next best defender (Tottenham's Kyle Walker).
For those citing his set-piece duties; while he does take the majority—which is unsurprising, given the quality of his delivery—he certainly doesn't take every single one.
In total, Baines has been behind 81 of his side's 143 corners delivered into the box and, overall, 40 of his 84 chances have been produced from dead-ball situations.
Aside from that he's still managed 44 chances from open play, which, on its own, is the eighth best overall return in that category. Significantly more than any other defender.
Baines has maintained this elite level of creative input for the past few years at Everton, and fans remain privileged to witness his artistry every other week at Goodison Park.
Left Side Dominance
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Playing just ahead of Baines, generally along a slightly narrower channel, is Steven Pienaar. Their partnership is responsible for the next revealing statistic, highlighting where the Toffees attack.
Dividing the pitch into thirds, Everton advance down the left side of the field 44 percent of the time, which is a Premier League high.
In contrast, they attack down the right side 30 percent and through the middle just 26 percent of the time, both the second lowest percentages in the league.
This approach is perhaps predictable on paper, but given the pair's obvious understanding and ability to continually churn out chances, it's not very surprising.
Pienaar sits just a few places below Baines in the chances created column, in eighth position, having carved out 55 openings himself this season. Together, this gives the Toffees the top flight's most potent flank and naturally David Moyes attempts to maximise its production.
A common pattern of attack has been Marouane Fellaini moving onto a right-back, knocking a lofted pass down to a nearby Pienaar or Leon Osman who attack a narrower line before playing in an overlapping Baines to cross.
As the season's evolved, sides have tried different methods to stifle this. Chelsea congested the left side with an extra wide-man in midfield and Swansea fielded two right-backs, which were two of the more successful recent examples.
However, overall, few sides have been able to completely nullify Baines and Pienaar, and Everton's left will continue to be the focal point of their attack.
Poor Conversion Rate
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While Everton sit near the top of many creative and shooting lists this season, finishing off the deluge of chances created has been problematic in several games.
Of the Toffees' 65 clear-cut chances—the third most in the country— they have only finished off 31 percent (20) of these openings, the fourth worst ratio in the Premier League.
Had the Toffees' matched the more clinical nature of some of their rivals, they would clearly be sitting on a higher tally of points and won more games.
The main culprits have been Nikica Jelavic, who has scored four and missed 11, and Leon Osman, who has scored one and missed five clear-cut chances.
Another area of concern has been Everton's defenders who have been fluffing golden opportunities all season. Sylvain Distin, John Heitinga and Phil Jageilka have scored none of 10 clear-cut chances between them.
Despite winning just ten games this season, Everton have created more chances than their opponents in 18 of the 25 fixtures, but have simply failed to be as ruthless as their opposition.
Clearly a killer instinct needs to be adopted if the Toffees want to gatecrash the Champions League places.
Decline of Jelavic
EPL Stats Only (via EPL Index)
As shown in the previous slide, Nikica Jelavic has been missing several inviting opportunities in recent months and his play has rapidly deteriorated from what was an extremely impressive inaugural season.
Signed last January, the Croatian was instantly involved in the goals as an Everton player, scoring several crucial strikes at a commendable ratio of almost a goal-a-game.
As this chart indicates, this season his numbers have diminished right across the board.
Apart from the obvious fact that he's scoring less and is therefore converting far less in front of goal, he's an alarming 20 percent more wayward with his shooting and is also averaging less shots at goal over 90 minutes.
Add in the fact that he's been caught offside more than any other player in the league this season, it's been a frustrating few months for Jelavic.
From the clinical, rapacious striker with a trademark one-touch finish, he currently cuts a fragile image of a clumsy professional badly hashing at his reduced chances.
Had it not been for the success of Victor Anichebe and Marouane Fellaini—both of whom have already registered more goals in a season than ever before—the Toffees would have felt this decline far more.
Last season's form and his previous success at other clubs suggest this is merely a blip for Jelavic, although his recent omission from the starting lineup show it's clearly concerning David Moyes.
Too Many Draws
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The final statistic that highlights Everton's season is no detailed percentage or surprising hidden number, but simply a fact that all supporters can instantly see.
The Toffees have drawn a frustrating amount of games this season, 12 in 25, and it seems likely this habit will prevent Moyes' side from keeping pace in the race for fourth.
Along with a constant knack of spurning chances, Everton have also rarely been able to keep a clean sheet, meaning games have often finished 2-1, 1-1 or even 2-2, depending on the form at the back.
In fact, the Toffees have not won a game by more than a one goal margin since September, showing just how fragile the line between winning and drawing has consistently been.
For Everton to make the Champions League, perhaps Moyes needs to take more of a gamble. After all, it would be better to alternate wins and defeats instead of continually going home with a point.