Assessing the Top Statistical Performances from Premier League Week 3
Back for a third edition, here is a look back at the leading statistical contributions from the Premier League in Week 3.
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.
At times, these articles will serve as a platform to laud some individual brilliance, but it's also a chance to gauge the relevance of each number and consider why certain players thrive in certain departments.
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: Green, Dawson, Morgan
Most Saves: 6—Rob Green
Rob Green was the most active goalkeeper in Week 3, pulling off six saves to deny Sunderland. The former England stopper responded well to the arrival of Alex McCarthy and produced the second-best return from a goalkeeper this season.
Elsewhere, many would expect Asmir Begovic's afternoon at the Etihad Stadium to be among the busiest of Week 3; yet, as much as Manchester City attacked Stoke's final third, just two shots tested the Bosnian.
Most Clearances: 16—Michael Dawson
Aside from handing Aston Villa their key second goal, Michael Dawson settled in reasonably well at Hull, clearing his lines more than any defender this week.
Ryan Shawcross still leads the way for the season, with 38, though somewhat unusually no Stoke defender was required to reach doubles figures against Manchester City—highlighting the champions' preference to play through an opponent rather than pepper the box.
Most Blocked Shots: 5—Wes Morgan
Blocked shots has proved an interesting category to cover thus far. In Week 1, it seemed to help James Chester land several post-match plaudits, via BBC Sport, while in Week 2, Rio Ferdinand's contribution was essentially meaningless in QPR's defeat to Spurs.
This week, there were some remarkable numbers reflecting two excellent defensive performances: Leicester City's 13 blocks against Arsenal and Stoke's nine blocks against Manchester City. The fact 12 Premier League teams recorded just three or under emphasises these impressive returns.
Blocks are crucial, and Wes Morgan's five for Leicester against Arsenal are the most of any player this season. Strangely, all five came in the first half as he successfully anticipated and dealt with the danger.
Possession Leaders: Van Aanholt, Jones, Manquillo, Debuchy
Most Tackles: 11—Patrick van Aanholt
Patrick van Aanholt produced a very high and unbalanced tackle count against QPR. The left-back's 11 tackles were one more than the rest of his team combined and just one short of Aston Villa's entire team total against Hull.
This suggests Van Aanholt was potentially viewed as a weak link by QPR and was (seemingly unwisely) targeted. Indeed, 42 percent of their play came down his flank, with right-sided Mauricio Isla and Matty Phillips far more prominent than the left-sided Clint Hill and Junior Hoilett.
Most Interceptions: 6—Phil Jones, Javier Manquillo
Phil Jones appears for the second week running in this category, again highlighting teams' desire to try and play through Manchester United's new-look back three.
It also suggests Jones is doing well to anticipate the danger, bailing out his young defence and winning back possession for his team.
Jones is joined on six interceptions by Liverpool's Javier Manquillo, which, once again, is one short of Aston Villa's total output in Week 3. Given such low tackle and interception numbers, it seems Hull barely tested Paul Lambert's defence in their 2-1 defeat.
Most Aerial Duels Won: 11—Mathieu Debuchy
This is an unusual winner and the joint-highest return of the season, but this number can be misleading and suggests Leicester went long and, perhaps unwisely, targeted Mathieu Debuchy.
It does show Debuchy's ability in the air, but his numbers are also partially Arsenal's doing. The Gunners repeatedly used a strange tactic of flicking the ball to their right-back in advanced positions, who would then look to head in Yaya Sanogo or a right-sided runner.
Quite a few of Debuchy's headers were won in the attacking third, which is certainly unusual for a right-back.
Most Fouls: 6—Yaya Toure
Perhaps exasperated by his side's inability to break down Stoke City, Yaya Toure topped the foul count this week with six.
That's still some way short of Marouane Chamakh's staggering Week 1 total (of 11), and unsurprisingly, the Moroccan leads the way on 16 fouls this season, still six more than any other player.
Passing Leaders: Ramsey, Capoue, Tadic
Most Passes: 116—Aaron Ramsey
There was a season-high three century makers in Week 3, including second 100-plus passing games for Aaron Ramsey and Etienne Capoue.
Ramsey led the way, but Capoue's 121 passes against QPR in Week 2 (adjusted to 123 upon review) remain the most by a player this season.
The Frenchman is clearly the passing hub of his side, recording almost double as many passes as any other Tottenham player this week—though not that it brought anything like the success of last week. He is also the only player to make 300 passes so far, averaging over 100 per game.
Most (Accurate) Long Balls: 15—Etienne Capoue
Capoue's passing pedigree is further accentuated by his long-ball return. This has been a category led by goalkeepers and defenders thus far, but Capoue's appearance shows his passing range and his ability to move his side around the pitch with diagonals.
What makes this return impressive is that Capoue only attempted 18 long passes, connecting with 83 percent. Several players had many more attempts this week, showing Capoue to not only be a reliable passer but a highly skilled one.
Most (Accurate) Crosses: 4—Dusan Tadic
Dusan Tadic provided the most accurate crosses this week in Southampton's win against West Ham.
However, the most appealing stat in this category is Stewart Downing's and the Hammers' complete lack of production. Downing led the way in Week 1 and Week 2, indicating Sam Allardyce's passion for a more direct brand of football remains strong.
Surprisingly, neither Downing nor West Ham as a team delivered a single accurate cross in their disappointing 3-1 home defeat to Southampton. If there was a stylistic change, it seems it went catastrophically wrong.
Creative Leaders: Ramsey, Young, N'Zonzi, Johnson, Cazorla
Without meaning to pick on West Ham, the most startling creative return from Week 3 was their lack of production against Southampton.
For a home side to create just two chances in 90 minutes is awful and is unlikely to be beaten as worst creative performance of the season. The Hammers' return was tripled by this week's leader, though Ramsey's six chances for Arsenal were not enough to secure a win at Leicester.
Elsewhere, surprisingly no Manchester United player was able to create more than one chance against newly promoted Burnley.
Most Successful Dribbles: 5—Ashley Young, Steven N'Zonzi
Three games in and Eden Hazard is finally dethroned as best dribbler of the week—though perhaps Everton spent too much time trying to reduce his creative threat and forgot about the rest of the team.
Ashley Young and Steven N'Zonzi lead the way with five dribbles each, with N'Zonzi's return illustrating Stoke's willingness to play on the break and run at Manchester City.
Most Through Balls: 3 (2 successful)—Adam Johnson, Santi Cazorla
Once again, three attempts leads the way for most through balls this week. Adam Johnson and Santi Cazorla both achieved that, connecting with two, while Ramsey missed all three of his attempts.
Elsewhere, Cesc Fabregas connected with both of his through balls, as he once again pulled the strings for Chelsea as they regularly dissected Everton.
The former Arsenal man leads the way with four successful through balls this season, double that of any other Premier League player.
Most Turnovers: 7—Erik Lamela; Most Dispossessed: 6—Mark Noble
Erik Lamela shows he's still adjusting to life in England and that, as with any creative player, sometimes it just doesn't come off.
Lamela was in this article for all the right reasons last week, producing excellent creative and dribbling numbers against QPR. This week, however, it all fell apart as the Argentine recorded seven turnovers—the most of any player this season.
Mark Noble then further underlines his side's struggles against Southampton, with West Ham's chief passer dispossessed a nausiating seven times.
Attacking Leaders: Schneiderlin, Dyer, Diego Costa, Sigurdsson, Ramires
While we are still waiting for the first hat-trick of the season, three players registered a brace this week.
Morgan Schneiderlin is a player who regularly crops up in this article, though normally for his possession numbers; few would expect to see him on this page. His two goals for Southampton match his total return in 33 appearances last season.
There were two goals for Diego Costa, too, who continued his instant acclimatisation to the Premier League—his third and fourth goals make him the Premier League's top scorer—while Nathan Dyer also added two.
Most Assists: 2—Gylfi Sigurdsson, Ramires
Moving onto providers, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Ramires were the only players to record two assists in Week 3. For both midfielders, it showed a considerable rise on last season's production.
Ramires' return matches his entire contribution from 30 appearances last season, while Sigurdsson now has four assists in total—joint most with Fabregas—despite failing to provide a single assist last season at Tottenham.
Most Shots: 7—Kevin Mirallas, Yaya Sanogo
Kevin Mirallas and Sanogo produced the most shots of any Premier League player in a match this season.
Seven attempts were more than West Ham managed against Southampton and equaled the returns of Manchester United, Tottenham and Stoke in their games. For Sanogo, sadly that still didn't lead to a first Premier League goal.
Elsewhere, Wilfried Bony has now had the most shots (10) of any player yet to score this season—not that Swansea have missed his goals.