Simon Bunn takes a statistical look at who the most accurate crossers of the ball are in the Premier League this season.
The art of crossing is a dangerous weapon in the game of football. Without wishing to patronise it is best defined as ‘delivery of a ball from either side of the field across to the front of the goal by applying various kicking techniques. A cross is there to provide a goal-scoring opportunity.’ Very nifty indeed if you can do it right.
So who is the best ‘crosser’ of the ball in the Premiership? Ashley Young, James Milner, Theo Walcott, EdenHazard, Gareth Bale, Raheem Sterling? This list may surprise you.
All data was taken from statistical website ‘Squawka Beta’ and is based on players that have attempted more than 90 crosses this season. The top 5 in reverse order are:
5) Damien Duff (31.35%)
The Irishman has been running up and down Premier league flanks for over 10 years now. At 33 years old the Fulham winger remains a terrorising presence for even the most experienced of full back’s. Out of 96 attempted crosses the left footer has successfully completed 30 of them, earning him an impressive record of 31.35%. The Republic of Ireland international has also provided 5 assists in 17 games for Fulham this campaign.
4) Sebastian Larsson (32.17%)
Seb Larsson has long contained a reputation for delivering a fine ball into the box; these statistics simply add further weight to that well known praise. The Swedish winger has an accuracy rate of 32.17% after completing 37 of his 115 attempted crosses this term. Good news for Sunderland manager Martin O’Neill who tends to favour the old fashioned utilisation of wing play.
3) Leighton Baines (32.20%)
Not many people will be surprised to see the Everton and England full back make the list. His dangerous left has been attracting the likes of Manchester United and Chelsea for a couple of seasons now. Baines has attempted a remarkable 205 crosses this season, creating 74 chances for his Toffee teammates. That’s an average of nearly 10 crosses per game. He may not be top of the accuracy list but he has created more opportunities than any other player in the league this season, easily justifying such heavy demand for the player.
2) Nicky Shorey (35.88%)
The Reading full back has not quite filled the potential of his youth, when he was lightly knocking on the England door. However, at 31 Shorey still provides a potent delivery. In charge of set pieces at Reading he has successfully completed 47 of his 131 crosses. They could prove vital in the Royal’s almighty quest to avoid relegation this season.
1) Barry Bannan (46.60%)
Villa’s 23 year old Scottish midfielder is the youngest in the list but top’s it quite convincingly. He has earned the nickname Barry ‘Hollywood Ball’ Bannan amongst the Villa fans, not necessarily a tag used as positively as some may think. This statistic however may go a long way to glossing that nickname with a more favourable tint. The Villa man has produced 48 successful crosses from 103 attempted. Despite topping this chart Bannan has only contributed 1 assist for Villa’s cause this campaign, which maybe says more about the teams lack of finishing prowess rather than his service?
Can anyone notice the common theme with the players in this ‘Top 5?’
images: © Ronnie Macdonald