As the Premier League campaign enters the new year, it looks set to be one of the tightest title races in recent history. With the season passing its halfway point this week, Squawka take a statistical look back at the season so far.
When looking at this season’s Premier League top achievers it should come as no surprise that this man leads our analysis. Liverpool’s Luis Suarez has experienced the season of his life so far, with 20 goals in just 15 appearances.
This works out at a goal every 67 minutes and would see him add another 24 goals to his tally if he were to keep it up and play every minute for Brendan Rodgers’ side for the rest of the season. Whilst he is highly unlikely to sustain his form to the tune of a 44-goal season, it has certainly been a period to remember for the current top scorer in Europe.
Whilst Suarez leads the way in the scoring charts, another striker leads the assist rankings. Manchester United may have experienced a poor season so far, but without Wayne Rooney it could have been so much worse for David Moyes. Linked with a summer move to Chelsea following an indifferent season last year, Rooney has been reborn with nine league goals and nine assists.
The England man has either scored or assisted an incredible 55 percent of his team’s 33 goals this season, keeping United on the tails of the Champions League places in spite of their well-documented problems.
Whilst Arsenal may lead the way, the fixture that nobody wants to play this season is Manchester City away. The Citizen’s home form has been impeccable, with 10 wins from 10 fixtures. Their home goal difference this season is a remarkable +32, with 38 goals scored and only six conceded. Away from the Etihad has been less straightforward however, with an away goal difference of only +2, just over six percent of their home total.
Perfectly timed for Roy Hodgson’s national side—coming in a World Cup year—two of this season’s most improved players have been Englishmen. Liverpool midfielder Jordan Henderson has already surpassed his creative contribution from last season, despite the season only being 20 games in. He only provided four assists for Liverpool over the entirety of last season, but has registered five this time around.
His five assists have come from 39 chances created, the third highest tally at the club behind captain Steven Gerrard and star striker Suarez. Last season Henderson only created 33 chances, and he is now finally starting to show some of the promise that persuaded the club to part with £16 million to prise him from Sunderland. The Englishman has benefitted from a sustained run in the Liverpool side, having played more minutes in the first half of this season than he did over the course of the whole season last term.
Manchester United striker Danny Welbeck also provides England fans with cause for optimism. In the absence of Rooney and Robin Van Persie in recent weeks he has led the line well and is finally starting to add goals to his game. He has seven from 14 appearances this season—a vast improvement on his solitary league goal in the 2012/13 season.
Staying behind after training to work on his finishing, Welbeck’s hard work appears to be paying off. He has a conversion rate of 33 percent this season, streets ahead of the—frankly abysmal—4 percent conversion rate that he managed last season.
Disappointments of the season:
When signing one of La Liga’s top scorers, Tottenham were probably expecting Roberto Soldado to have a similar impact to that had by fellow countryman Alvaro Negrado at Manchester City. However with just one of his five goals this season coming from open play, Soldado has been one of the flops of the season so far.
Take a look at the Spaniard’s woeful shot accuracy of just 38 percent and it is easy to see why he only scores from the spot. Instead of comparisons with Negredo, he is behind the likes of Nicklas Bendtner, and level with Stoke keeper Asmir Begovic, in terms of goals from open play.
In his defence, he is not alone in missing chances by the bucketload at Tottenham. Tim Sherwood’s side have netted just 9 percent of their 253 chances, way behind North London rivals Arsenal’s 17 percent conversion rate.
The league’s other big disappointment has undoubtedly been Manchester United. They have experienced twice as many losses as they had at the same stage last season, have created 49 fewer chances and scored just two thirds of the goals that they had managed after 20 games of 2012/13. Moyes’ side have also made 505 fewer passes than this time last year.
They are failing to dominate games due to their fragile centre, demonstrable by the fact that far more of their chances have come from wide areas than they had at the same stage last year.
Under The Radar:
Whilst the likes of Suarez and Rooney have deservedly taken the plaudits, some achievements have slipped under the radar this season. If you were to predict the player to have made the most tackles in the Premier League this season, a number of names might crop up again and again. However Joel Ward is unlikely to be one of them.
He has made a crunching 64 tackles, eight ahead of his nearest Premier League rival Claudio Yacob of West Brom and the most in Europe this season. His achievements are made all the more impressive by both his high success rate of 73 percent and the fact that he has only committed 11 fouls over the course of the season.
Swansea City’s style of play suggests that this should be no surprise, but Michael Laudrup’s side have made more passes than other Premier League side this season. They have completed 9970 passes in the Premier League this season.
Bayern Munich are the only team in Europe’s top 5 leagues to have completed more (9971). However this doesn’t appear to have helped them much, with the Swans' leaky defence meaning that—despite having more of the ball than their opponents in every game so far this season—they sit 13th in the table.