Yaya Toure or Michael Carrick – who is the Premier League ‘pass master’

Statistical look into who is the best ‘passing’ player in the Premier League

The Premier League has just completed match day 10 and usually this is when managers, players and supporters start looking statistically around the league, as they can see it taking shape.

Interestingly enough, with 10 games gone two of the top three ‘pass masters’ of Premier League football are back at centre stage from where they finished last season.

Both Manchester City and Manchester United are teams that like to play from a central midfielder pulling the strings, and dictating what goes on in front of them. Manchester United have England International Michael Carrick, who was named their Player of the Year last season and Manchester City have former Barcelona star Yaya Toure.

Both players were at the top end of ‘average passes per game’ and ‘passing success rate’ in the Premier League last season, and have took up the mantel of the top 2 this season, but who is ahead in the passing statistics with 10 games gone?

Average passes per game

Extraordinarily close between the two Manchester stars, and find themselves 5 passes per game away from 3rd place David Silva, it’s fair to say this is where a majority of their success in games comes from.

Last season there were 3 players that dominated this area, with Mikel Arteta joining both Yaya Toure and Michael Carrick in the top 3.

1st place – Mikel Arteta – 80.9 passes per game

2nd place – Yaya Toure – 78.9 passes per game

3rd place – Michael Carrick – 77.1 passes per game

4th place – Steven Gerrard – 66.3 passes per game

The gulf between 3rd and 4th shows how dominant the top 3 were in this area, and how key this particular statistic is to their game, but how does it shape up this season so far?

1st place – Yaya Toure – 81.9 passes per game

2nd place – Michael Carrick – 80.6 passes per game

3rd place – David Silva – 75.4 passes per game

4th place – Jose Canas – 73.7 passes per game.

Yaya Toure is currently edging out the England midfielder by 1.3 passes per game, which shows the margins being worked under and how similar these two players are.

Pass Success %

Obviously the key part of being crowned ‘pass master’ is the percentages of passes you get right in games, in this case it is very important due to stray passes being poor and will undoubtedly put their team under unnecessary pressure.

Statistically speaking this is where the two players vary significantly, but last season this wasn’t the case

12/13 season:

Yaya Toure – 88.9% - 2245 out of 2525 accurate

Michael Carrick – 88.1% - 2443 out of 2774 accurate

This shows that both players were again, in similar boundaries to each other but when compared to this season, for Michael Carrick it’s not good reading:

13/14 season:

Yaya Toure – 91.3% - 748 out of 819 accurate

Michael Carrick – 86.9% - 630 out of 725 accurate

The Manchester United midfielder has dropped 1.2% from his average last season, and currently 4.4% behind Yaya Toure this term who has raised his average from last season.

Key Passes per game

A major part of having a good pass success rate is argued to stay away from ‘ambitious’ passes that could make or break a move, however, in football we know that these type of passes can win or lose a game so these are important when looking at who is actually the best passing footballer.

Last season Yaya Toure outdid Michael Carrick by 40% as the Ivory Coast international was credited on average 1.4 key passes per game, and Michael Carrick with a solitary 1 key pass per game.

However, the change in management at United seems to have introduced a new part in Carrick’s game to be more ‘daring’ with his passes.

The United star is currently averaging 1.3 key passes a game, 30% higher than his average last season, whilst Yaya Toure took a 20% decrease in his averaging 1.2 key passes a game this season.

This could explain the drop in Michael Carrick’s pass success rate this season, as he is looking to punish teams a lot more this term.

However, Yaya Toure certainly seems to be edging out the England midfielder, who will be out to impress this season in the hope he can cement a place down in the England starting 11 in the World Cup.

Do these statistics tell the whole story? Or do they merely cover over the truth by manipulated percentages?

Who do you think is the ‘pass master’ in the Premier League? Carrick? Yaya? Or someone else?

image: © Andrea Sartorati

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