Which attacking midfielder has made the biggest impact in the Premier League so far? This analysis, based on statistics, will attempt to provide some answers.
I chose the four more effective midfielders from the start of the season – Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United), Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City), James Rodriguez (Everton) and Jack Grealish (Aston Villa). The goal is to analyse these players’ performances in different categories. Goal rate and shot accuracy, created chances, completed passes, completed take-ons and fouls won.
All the stats are based on per 90 minutes.
Goal rate and shot accuracy – Grealish and Fernandes
This category goes for Grealish. The Aston Villa captain has scored the impressive four goals with a 40% conversion rate. Grealish has made 10 attempts in Villa’s opening six games, with seven of them being on target. From the other three only Fernandes gets close.
Both Fernandes and Grealish have scored 0.7 goals per 90 minutes so far.
Pass rate – James
This category is analysed by passing attempts, completed passes, and pass accuracy.
The Colombian has completed 43,7 passes per 90 minutes in his first six games. His pass accuracy rates at 86.11, which is enough to put him over the other three playmakers.
Grealish and De Bruyne have converted their passes with 79.53% and 79.4% respectively, leaving Fernandes last in the category. Still Fernandes has made the most pass attempts with 70.3 passes per game, which reveals his huge role in United’s build-up play.
Created chances – De Bruyne
James owned the best pass rate, but comes third in terms of created chances behind Kevin De Bruyne and Bruno.
The Belgium international has established his importance for Man City – in his first five games he has created 4.3 scoring chances against Fernandes’ four.
Of the two, more accurate crosses have been delivered by Fernandes. The Portuguese playmaker has completed 2.7 successful crosses making him a profitable option for the set-pieces.
Take-ons and fouls won – Grealish
For the last category I looked at how successfully the maestros challenge for the ball. This section was dominated by Jack Grealish.
The England international completes three successful take-ons every 90 minutes against 2.9 by James.
It’s no surprise that Grealish has been harassed a lot by opponents in this season as well winning four fouls per game on average. His manager, Dean Smith, mentioned this week how the club captain has put on extra work at gym to cope better with tackles.
Looking on stats from four players, you can notice, that Grealish topped three of the categories. The Villa captain has been the most efficient scorer of the quartet and provided the best take-ons rate.
His pass accuracy was the second best as well, just behind James Rodriguez.
The statistics point out how vital Grealish has been for Villa. According to Understat, Grealish’s expected goal rate was 2.60, only behind Ollie Watkins’.
Stats from Squawka and Understat.
By Joni Ahokas
Sub-edited by Eran Ivanov