Joey Barton outperforms Alexis Sanchez - and everyone else - in key area

Queens Park Rangers' Joey Barton played more key passes than any other Premier League player on the opening weekend, one more than Arsenal's star signing.

Joey Barton is a player who divides opinion, but on his return to the Premier League with Queens Park Rangers he put in an impressive shift against Hull City, even if Harry Redknapp's side slipped to a 1-0 defeat.

Of all Barton's stats at the weekend, the one that really jumped out was the number of goal-scoring opportunities he created for a teammate - six in total, and more than any other Premier League player this weekend.

In fact, Barton played at least double the amount of key passes managed by any other player except for Arsenal's summer signing Alexis Sanchez.

The Chilean played five key passes in the Gunners' 2-1 win over Crystal Palace, impressing throughout and setting up the equalising goal for Laurent Koscielny.  

And while Barton failed to set up what would have proved a vital goal for QPR, his eye for a key pass suggested he will be crucial to Redknapp's side this season.

  TeamKey PassesMins
Joey Barton QPR 6 90
Alexis Sánchez Arsenal 5 90

Barton's impressive key-passing stat led me to consider how he performed against Sanchez in other areas. And it was interesting to see that the QPR man also had a better passing accuracy than the Chilean, although the Arsenal player outdid him in terms of total and on-target scoring attempts.

  Pass AccuracyTotal Scoring AttemptOn-target Scoring AttemptMins
Joey Barton 81.48% 2 0 90
Alexis Sánchez 79.66% 3 1 90

Of course the two players are markedly different but each could be vital to their own club's hopes for the season.

And when you consider that Barton played twice as many key passes at the weekend than Juan Mata, Santi Cazorla or Remy Cabella to name just a few, perhaps it is time to give the 31-year-old a little more credit.

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