After one of the more memorable finales in Premier League history, the 2011/12 season is now finally in the books, consigned to the archives of history. As the commotion of the closing day slowly fades, each side will begin to sift through the progress made over the past year, analysing where they advanced, and where they were lacking.
Everton were once again steered into the top eight by David Moyes, after another notoriously troublesome start. Their seventh-place finish mirrored last year’s final standing, and gave Moyes an eighth top eight finish in ten full seasons. 56 points also marked a two-point improvement from 2010/11, and there were two more wins achieved compared to last year’s 13.
–Tim Howard conceded a goal every 86 minutes, a ratio only David De Gea, Joe Hart and Pepe Reina (among starting ‘keepers) could better.
This is the only category where it is impossible to compare two players, as Tim Howard started every league game for Everton for a fourth season in a row. By appearing in the final game against Newcastle, the American equalled Pepe Reina’s Premier League record of 183 consecutive appearances for the same team. Here are some statistics from his season, compared to 2010/11.
It’s clearly not only in durability that Howard ranks among the top goalkeepers in the Premier League, as his form this season has been up with his very best. His personal highlights would be two penalty saves, and an inspired solo effort against Tottenham, where he kept a shut-out despite 24 shots being fired in. With 12 clean sheets, he finished some way short of the club record of 17 (that he set in 2009) but, as with most categories, he improved from last season’s nine. He also scored his first Premier League goal, meaning he finished the season more prolific than Shaun Wright-Phillips and Stewart Downing!
–Everton had the second best defensive record at home in the league, conceding just 15 goals at Goodison Park all season.
–With a tackle success rate of 78%, Everton were the league’s joint-best tacklers with Chelsea.
In front of Howard, Everton’s defence excelled, producing one of their stingiest campaigns under David Moyes. Only Manchester City and Manchester United conceded fewer goals all season.
116 – Nobody made more headed clearances than Sylvain Distin.
11.42 minutes – Phil Jagielka averaged a successful challenge more often than any Everton defender.
18 – Tony Hibbert was dribbled past more than any other defender at the club.
34 – Johnny Heitinga committed more fouls than any Everton defender.
The triumvirate of Phil Jagielka, Players’ Player of the year Sylvain Distin, and Fans’ Player of the Year Johnny Heitinga, were all paired together for lengthy spells at centre-back, and generally maintained a very high standard of play. Looking at these numbers, this is one of the occasions where statistics can be misleading. There is no category for how well a forward was marshalled or stifled out of a game, something Johnny Heitinga excelled at all year. Although some of his numbers do not quite match his peers’, the truly important statistic is the one that shows how many fewer goals were conceded when he was on the field.
If Leighton Baines’ statistics going forward were not quite as imperious as in recent seasons – although he still created the 11th most chances in the league – his defensive performances were excellent once again. His ability at the back is often masked by his superb contribution going forward, but few wingers ever get the better of him. Baines was only dribbled past 10 times this season, whereas Patrice Evra and Ashley Cole were both beaten 29 times. It was very fitting that he made the PFA Team of the Year. Opposite Baines, Tony Hibbert gave one of his best seasons of service, confining club captain Phil Neville to sporadic appearances at right-back.
Next Page: Midfielders and Strikers analysed in depth (click top right or bottom right for page 2 link)