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Michael Carrick is the Premier League's best forward passer?


After completing a record 44 forward passes in the recent fixture with West Ham United on closer inspection there is a genuine case that Carrick is the best passer of the ball, at least from deep midfield, in the Premier League. What do you think?

Manchester United came out on top in a tight affair with West Ham United Wednesday night thanks to Robin Van Persie’s opening minute deflected shot that looped over the head of an unfortunate Jussi Jaaskelainen.

Sir Alex Ferguson started Anderson for the second time this season and gave Michael Carrick the role of ‘platform midfielder’ from deep. Carrick is often described as a gifted passer of the ball and while he certainly has his off days there is no doubt he is a highly talented distributor of a football.

With Anderson, Cleverley and Rooney around him it gave him much less responsibility when it came to roaming around the pitch and being mobile which are not his biggest assets. As seen in the recent defeat against Norwich pairing Carrick with someone who struggles to cover the ground quickly, on that occasion Ryan Giggs, often ends in disastrous results.

The win percentage for Sir Alex’s men drops considerably when he pairs those two together; the stat (correct as of the time of publication) was 59 per cent with them and 82 percent without them which were telling figures.

Some people argue the validity of stats in a game like football. Unlike the popular Sabermetrics model for baseball football is less predictable as a sport. While Baseball involves your basic closed skills in a semi-open environment football is a far more engaging and personality driven sport with decidedly many other factors on show.

Therefore many people do argue statistics especially ones such as pass completion, or pass ratio. The likes of Leon Britton, Phil Neville and Joe Allen consistently frequent the 90 per cent accuracy ratio. However people are quick to highlight the fact that many of these passes simply go side to side or backwards and are not a true reflection of effective use of possession.

So a stat that caught my eye was from the Manchester United v West Ham game at Old Trafford which saw Michael Carrick complete 44 forward passes; the most by an individual player in a Premier League game this season.

This is a fair point; only three players in the Premier League so far this season have attempted over 1000 passes and of the three Michael Carrick has the best proficiency rate. His 34.02 per cent surpasses the 28.99 and 27.28 of Yaya Toure and Mikel Arteta with ease. Out of 1164 total passes this season a measly 6.7 per cent of those have gone backward compared to the previous pairings average of around 12.7 per cent; about double.

So based purely on the stats and ignoring all pre-existing thoughts on the talent of Carrick (trust me I had to forget that as well) is he the most expansive midfield passer of the ball in the league?

Little does it matter; but for anyone interested Xavi averages about 75 accurate forward passes per game.

What do they put in that Catalan water?

image: © Andrea Sartorati

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