Premier League Preview: Top 6 Candidates to Lead the League in Assists

Dan Colasimone@@ArgentinaFWContributor IJuly 29, 2013

Premier League Preview: Top 6 Candidates to Lead the League in Assists

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    Goals get the glory, that's a given, but there has been a tendency in recent years to pay more and more heed to assists statistics.

    Savvy football fans have always known that the guys who lay on the goals are just as important as the those high-profile attention-seekers who put the ball in the back of the net, but these days we pour over the assists numbers almost as much as the scoring charts to better quantify the value of these creative types.

    Statistics don't tell the whole story, of course, but over the course of a season—or a footballer's entire career—they can help paint a more accurate picture of exactly what he offered to the game.

    For now, though, we move from the practical world of numbers to the less-than-scientific domain of making predictions, and try to pick the six players who will top the Premier League assists charts in season 2013/14. 

6. Luis Suarez

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    Age: 26

    Current club: Liverpool

    It is still unclear whether Luis Suarez will remain at Liverpool this season or move to Arsenal, but regardless of where he plays, the elusive forward is likely to remain one of the most influential figures in the league.

    Though he will miss the first six games through suspension and is guaranteed to be a figure of derision for opposing fans, Suarez only seems to get better when he feels the world is against him.

    Expect him to burst onto the scene when he does come back, and to start immediately scoring goals and laying them on for others.

    Liverpool relied heavily on the Uruguayan's ability to find the back of the net last season, but Suarez knows how to set up his teammates just as efficiently.

    Predicted assists in 2013/14: 10

5. Juan Mata

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    Age: 25

    Current club: Chelsea

    Nobody in the Premier League can match Juan Mata when it comes to consistently cracking open games with guile and creativity.

    The Spanish international fully deserves the prestigious No. 10 shirt that he wears for Chelsea. Over the past two seasons, he has become the attacking hub of the side. He is the man most likely to provide the spark to unlock an opposition defense.

    Aside from his obvious talent, Mata is endowed with a strong character and a will to win that ensure he keeps showing up with the goods season after season. At 25, he's only going to get better.

    He is primed to up his goal-scoring rate in 2013/14 while providing a similar number of assists as last season.

    Predicted assists in 2013/14: 11

4. Leighton Baines

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    Age: 28

    Current club: Everton

    Like Suarez, it matters little where left-sided whiz Leighton Baines ends up playing his football in 2013/14; he is likely to continue his stellar form and set up bucket-loads of goals.

    Everton's reigning player of the season delivers sumptuous crosses with the nonchalance of a postal employee delivering the daily mail, and he has an uncanny knack for creating the space for himself to do just that.

    Though his prolific work does not always show up in assists stats, it should be noted that the kid from Kirkby conjures more clear-cut chances than anyone else in the Premier League.

    If his teammates can start putting those chances away more regularly, the irrepressible Mr. Baines should be hitting the top end of the assists charts very soon.

    Predicted assists in 2013/14: 11

3. Jesus Navas

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    Age: 27

    Current club: Manchester City

    The Citizens' new signing is pure dynamite down the right and should thrive in the all-action, fast-paced EPL.

    Nifty footwork and blistering speed make the ex-Sevilla man and Spain international an extremely difficult player for opponents to keep a lid on.

    Look forward to seeing a host of Premier League left-backs testing the limits of their flexibility as Navas fiendishly coaxes them into doing the splits on the turf as he whizzes by. 

    The likes of Sergio Aguero, Edin Dzeko and Stevan Jovetic will be fighting each other to get on the end of his pinpoint crosses and cut backs in order to boost their personal goal tallies for the season.

    Predicted assists in 2013/14: 12

2. Santi Cazorla

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    Age: 28

    Current club: Arsenal

    This sleepy-eyed mini magician from Malaga showed in his debut season in England that he has the goods to light up the Premier League.

    Twinkle-toed and tenacious, Cazorla is capable of threading passes with both feet, meaning he can attack through the middle or down either flank with deadly effectiveness.

    Now that he has had a year to settle in the EPL, he should come into the new season full of confidence and intent.

    Expect him to improve on last year's personal assist tally of 12.

    Predicted assists in 2013/14: 13 

1. Eden Hazard

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    Age: 22

    Current club: Chelsea

    Another midfield star about to embark on his second season in the Premier League is Chelsea's very own haranguing honey badger, Eden Hazard.

    Inventive and explosive, the Belgian impressed in his first year in the EPL, but one gets the feeling he has so much more to offer.

    As he moves into his mid-20s and adds wiliness to his natural brilliance, he is likely to begin scoring at a higher rate and laying on even more clean chances for his teammates.

    Incoming gaffer Jose Mourinho will ensure Hazard's talents are exploited to their full potential.

    Chelsea's rivals should be worried.

    Predicted assists in 2013/14: 14