Steven Pienaar is edging ever closer to a third stint at Everton. Sometimes, footballers find a club that allows them to express themselves. For Steven Pienaar, that club is Everton. Before he returned to Tottenham, the player spoke fondly of his second spell at Goodison, “I just want to say thanks for the support from day one. I really appreciate it”. He went on, “It means a lot to me, this club”, before dropping a hint about the future, “Let’s just see what will happen in the summer”.
David Moyes has a habit of rescuing players from obscurity, Mikel Arteta will testify to that. He did the same with Pienaar and saved him from a dismal two years at Borussia Dortmund. After a successful loan, Pienaar for £2 million in 2008. Impressive performances earned him the club’s 2009 – 10 Player of the Year award. Despite missing several games through injury, the midfield playmaker managed a best goal haul – seven.
This proved the high point of his first spell with the midfielder moving to Tottenham in January 2011. Following his transfer, Pienaar featured prominently. However, last season, Pienaar struggled and could not get in the Spurs team. Between August and his return to Everton, Pienaar played just sixteen minutes of league football.
Pienaar secured a return to his spiritual home on deadline day and made his second Everton début at Wigan. Starting all the remaining league games, Pienaar lost just two of his 14 matches.Before the South African’s arrival, Everton struggled for goals with 24 in 24 games; Everton were a different beast with Pienaar, scoring 26 in 14 games. With Pienaar in the side, Everton’s win percentage rose from 37.5% to 43%.
Pienaar offers incision in attack and his presence elevates Everton’s football. The team’s passing average is 77% with Pienaar recording 83% in his 14 outings. Upon closer inspection, Pienaar’s passing is above the Everton average in all areas. The through ball statistic is telling with 12 in 14 games. The next best is Leon Osman with 8 in 30 matches. This highlights Pienaar’s willingness to take risks and look for openings.
With Pienaar in the side, there is more emphasis on ball retention. Before Pienaar’s arrival, Everton averaged 379 passes per game. The midfielder’s influence led to Everton attempting an extra 47 passes per match. The team’s passing accuracy is 78% but that drops to 76% without Pienaar.
An in-depth look at creativity highlights Pienaar’s impact. Despite his late arrival, Pienaar ended the season as the third most creative player with 32 chances. Leighton Baines creates a chance every 44 minutes whilst Pienaar creates a chance every 38 minutes. Pienaar’s creation ratio makes him the club’s most creative player. For a player arriving in January, short of form and fitness, that is an impressive achievement.
During his 1,239 minutes of football, Pienaar recorded six assists. Averaging an assist every 206 minutes, Pienaar boasts the best minutes per assist ratio, edging out the mercurial Royston Drenthe.
With a reported fee of around £2.5 million rising to £5 million, some may feel Everton are paying too much for a 30-year old. However, this is not an ordinary transfer. There is no settling in period; Pienaar knows the club, and the players, inside out. With Steven Pienaar, Everton are getting more than a player, they are getting a piece of the furniture back.
Everton’s squad remains wafer thin with nine players released or sold. However, for once, Everton are trying to remedy that. Pienaar’s arrival and the astute signing of Steven Naismith represent a positive start. Evertonians will hope the club can continue to progress and eradicate the slow starts.
On and off the pitch, this is the most proactive Everton have been in years; long may it continue.
Steven Pienaar – The Stats (Everton 2011/12)
Most Assists – 6
Best Minutes per Assist ratio – 206 minutes
Chances Created - 32 (3rd)
Best Minutes per Chance Created ratio – 38 minutes
Most Through Balls – 12
Most Successful Dribbles per match – 1
Most Key Passes Per Match – 2.3
All of the stats from this article have been taken from the Opta Stats Centre at EPLIndex.com – Subscribe Now (Includes author privileges!) See Demo’s and videos about the Stats Centre & read about new additions to the stats centre.
Write about Everton for ESPN and EPL Index. Evertonian with a keen interest in the tactical and statistical. Twitter: @lukeofarrell
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