Assessing the Top Statistical Performances from Premier League Week 2
Love them or hate them, statistics are becoming increasingly entwined in football with every passing season, frequently used by clubs, journalists and fans in various capacities.
In this exploratory series, we're taking a weekly look at the best performance in several categories over the Premier League season.
At times, these articles will serve as a platform to laud some individual brilliance, but it's also a chance to gauge exactly how relevant each number is.
Will the players championed for standout performances be the same players leading the way statistically? It's time to find out.
Here's a look at who led the way numerically in Week 2 of the 2014/15 Premier League season. Week 1's leaders can be found here.
All statistics via WhoScored.com.
Statistics will occasionally change upon further analysis post-match. The numbers in this article are compiled immediately after the final whistle.
Defensive Leaders: Schmeichel, Wilson and Ferdinand
Most Saves: 8—Kasper Schmeichel
Chelsea were widely reported as finding it tough to break down Leicester, but Jose Mourinho's side still kept Kasper Schmeichel busier than any goalkeeper this season.
The Danish stopper diverted eight of Chelsea's 10 shots on target, recording three more saves than any goalkeeper has in a match this season.
Elsewhere, Wojciech Szczesny and Tim Krul were the only goalkeepers unable to record a save. Szczesny conceded both of Everton's two shots on target, while Aston Villa failed to test Krul in their 0-0 draw with Newcastle.
Most Clearances: 16—Marc Wilson
Perhaps surprisingly, Marc Wilson made the most clearances of any player in Week 2, lining up for Stoke City against 10-man Hull.
His 16 clearances suggest the Tigers opted for some direct tactics with their one-man disadvantage and still maintained a threat.
Overall this season, Wilson's team-mate Ryan Shawcross leads the way with 30 clearances in two games.
Most Blocked Shots: 3—Rio Ferdinand
Putting his body on the line to block shots helped James Chester earn several post-match plaudits last week, yet that's far from the case in Week 2.
Rio Ferdinand is this week's leader, but his three blocks went almost unnoticed in Tottenham's 4-0 rout of QPR.
Playing as part of Rangers' besieged back three, this does at least suggest the 35-year-old's anticipation and positional sense remain strong.
Possession Leaders: Mulumbu, Jones, Jedinak
Most Tackles: 9—Youssouf Mulumbu
Defensive ability gauged on pure numbers alone is meaningless, such is the importance of marking, positioning, awareness and so on. Nevertheless, any time a player wins the ball is key.
Youssouf Mulumbu matched Victor Wanyama's and Mile Jedinak's nine tackles from Week 1 during West Brom's 0-0 draw at Southampton, recording the most tackles this week.
Overall, Jedinak—last year's tackle king—is already ahead of the rest. His six tackles against West Ham puts him on 15 for the season, already three more than any other player.
Most Interceptions: 7—Phil Jones
Manchester United's defence is yet to appear fully cohesive in Louis van Gaal's new system
The makeshift back three were kept busy against Sunderland and were bailed out on several occasions by Phil Jones. His seven interceptions frequently relieved the pressure and was the most of any player in Week 2.
Mulumbu's efforts against Southampton are also worth mentioning. The central midfielder was something of a ball-winning machine this week, shutting down numerous Southampton attacks. He recorded six interceptions to add to his nine tackles—comfortably the best production of the week.
Most Aerial Duels Won: 10—Mile Jedinak
Sam Allardyce has been under pressure to play a more attractive brand of football this season, yet Mile Jedinak's return suggest that wasn't always the case at Selhurst Park.
The Australian midfielder won 10 aerial duels on is own in Crystal Palace's defeat to West Ham, a total not surpassed by seven Premier League teams during Week 2's action. Clearly, there were a lot of high balls to compete for.
Most Fouls: 5—Etienne Capoue and Mathieu Flamini
A measure of just how ridiculous Marouane Chamakh's foul count from last week was is further highlighted by these results.
Etienne Capoue and Mathieu Flamini both recorded five fouls, with Capoue seemingly fortunate to escape a booking, yet neither comes remotely close to Chamakh's 11 from last week.
Passing Leaders: Capoue, Fabianski, Downing, Brunt
Most Passes: 121—Etienne Capoue
As mentioned last week, passing isn't necessarily a way to gauge a player's ability—all players can pass sideways with close to 100 percent accuracy—but it is a good method of understanding style, approach and which players dictate the play.
Etienne Capoue was the only player to record over 100 passes this week. His total of 121 was comfortably the most of Week 2 and is 15 more than any player has produced in a match this season.
Capoue joins Aaron Ramsey and Mikel Arteta as the three players to make at least 100 passes in a game.
Most (Accurate) Long Balls: 15—Lukasz Fabianski
Another peculiar number for stylistic perceptions is Lukasz Fabianski's 15 accurate long balls against Burnley.
Aren't Swansea supposed to be the short-passing kings? Whether this was due to Burnley's pressing or Wilfried Bony's and Bafetimbi Gomis' perceived aerial prowess, the Swans' stopper chose to go long more than any other player in Week 2.
Fabianski has also hit more accurate long balls than any player (24) this season.
Most (Accurate) Crosses: 4—Stewart Downing and Chris Brunt
Stewart Downing appears in this category for the second week running, again suggesting West Ham's tactics are yet to morph into the aesthetically pleasing football their fans demand.
His four accurate crosses also highlight the fact that flooding the box can still be effective when aiming at sizeable targets such as Carlton Cole.
This week, Downing is joined by Chris Brunt, who also contributed four accurate crosses for West Brom against Southampton.
Creative Leaders: Hazard, Lamela, Wickham
Most Chances Created: 7—Eden Hazard
Statistically, Eden Hazard put in an incredible performance against Leicester, creating seven chances on his own.
This is the most of any player in any match this season and was also more than Aston Villa, Leicester, West Brom, Swansea, Everton, Hull, QPR and Manchester United managed as an entire team.
It also equalled the creative totals of Southampton, Burnley and Manchester City, meaning only nine teams' total chances could beat Hazard's individual production.
Most Successful Dribbles: 6—Eden Hazard and Erik Lamela
In what may soon be described as his own category, Hazard makes his second consecutive appearance following six successful dribbles against Leicester.
As mentioned last week, the Chelsea man dominated this department last season, recording 132 successful dribbles—an impressive 29 more than any other Premier League player.
Remarkably, he has already recorded more than double (15) as many dribbles as any other player this season but was at least matched this week by Erik Lamela's return against QPR.
Interesting enough, there isn't a special amount of praise for Hazard's showing against Leicester. On paper, and judging by statistics alone, it seems a stunning contribution.
Most Through Balls: 3—Connor Wickham
No player managed to complete two through balls this week, but Sunderland's Connor Wickham produced the most attempts with three,
The Black Cats were clearly trying to test the positional nous of Manchester United's back three but failed to connect with their targets.
Most Turnovers: 6—Mame Biram Diouf and Connor Wickham; Most Dispossessed: 7—Connor Wickham
In the not-so-positive dispossession numbers, again it's young or inexperienced Premier League players leading the way.
Wickham produces an unwanted double, appearing in both categories and seemingly haemorrhaging possession to Manchester United at every turn. He's also joined by Stoke's Mame Biram Diouf.
Attacking Leaders: Chadli, Jovetic, Lamela
Most Goals: 2—Nacer Chadli and Stevan Jovetic
Nacer Chadli and Stevan Jovetic both registered a brace in Week 2, joining six other players on two goals scored this season.
Chadli's efforts double his total return from 24 Premier League matches last season, while Jovetic is now just a goal behind the three he managed in 13 games, mostly as a substitute.
Most Assists: 2—Erik Lamela
Erik Lamela matched the two assists of Cesc Fabregas in Week 1. The Argentinian seems to have found his feet under Mauricio Pochettino and was widely praised for his all-round performance in Tottenham's 4-0 win over QPR.
Fabregas' assist against Leicester keeps him ahead in the overall stakes, with three. Gylfi Sigurdsson is the only other player with two assists to his name this season.
Most Shots: 6—Andre Schurrle
Andre Schurrle's performance in front of goal against Leicester was one to forget.
The German forward hit the most shots of any player this season without scoring and failed to test an otherwise overworked Kasper Schmeichel with a single one. All six attempts missed the target.
Elsewhere, Loic Remy and Marko Arnautovic have now hit the most shots (seven) of players yet to find the net this season.