As Everton reach the 200 shot landmark for the season, becoming the first team to do so in Europe's top five league competitions, are they the best creators of chances in the Premier League or is it all down to pot-shots and try-your-lucks?
I am one of those anorak football fans who loves keeping his eye on the web and ear to the ground in an attempt to find some of the most interesting stats out there. These days you get many… how many long balls per game, yards covered, minutes in possession; Opta Stats highlight hundreds of different strands of research to decipher which stats really mean something.
One such club where I have discovered an interesting stat is Everton FC. The club have had a disappointing October in terms of results. Despite performing very well throughout, David Moyes men have not won a single game throughout the month.
6th October: 2-2 v Wigan Athletic
21st October: 1-1 v QPR
28th October: 2-2 v Liverpool…
…and the trend continued into November with a 2-2 draw against Fulham.
Considering how well they have played the fact they have only managed to muster four points from a potential 12 will leave a sour taste in the mouth at the end of the season if they finish just outside the top four. Given the current shaky starts to the season by Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur it is a genuine consideration.
Despite their apparent lack of cutting edge the stats would show that Everton have not been failing to win for a lack of trying. They may have come in for some (later rescinded) criticism by Steven Gerrard for their style of play but whatever it is they are doing it seems to be working.
Everton are the first team out of all five big leagues in Europe to amass 200 shots this season. That is more shots than a group of 18-year-old girls in Magaluf. With Juventus (197) and Manchester City (190) behind them in second and third spot respectively they have the champions of Italy and England trailing in their wake.
When you consider some of the players at the disposal of David Moyes this should come as no surprise. In Opta Stats ‘creativity’ file there are only three Everton players in the top 30 when it comes to chances created. There is several more Manchester City, Chelsea and Tottenham players among that list yet Everton have had more shots. When you consider the top 5 consists of both Steven Pienaar and Leighton Baines it becomes a clearer picture. When you tweak the results slightly only five Premier League players have created 25 or more chances this season. Steven Gerrard, Luis Suarez and Santi Cazorla join the Everton pair.
But the left-wing pairing bring a great balance. Pienaar creates most of his chances from open play, 92% of his 25 chances created came this way. Leighton Baines on the other hand just 48% with 52% coming from set-plays. When it comes to minutes-per-chance created Baines again mops the floor with the competition.
It takes him an average of just 20.45 minutes to create a goalscoring opportunity per game meaning in any given game he will create, on average, up to 4.4 chances. Pienaar is slightly less economical but still a ratio of 2.9 chances per game is not to be shirked at. When the two are on the pitch Everton are almost guaranteed around 7.3 chances a game. Roughly 70 of the 200 attempts they have had at goal. Not a bad ratio at all.
There is little doubt that this left-wing partnership is the major contributor to Everton’s 200 shot milestone.
What do you make of these statistics and the left-wing partnership of Leighton Baines and Steven Pienaar?
image: © wonker