Jermain Defoe has silenced his critics since the start of the season, with the striker firing nine goals into the net, keeping him near the top of the Golden Boot leader-board.
But despite playing regular football under Andre Villas-Boas, has the Englishman actually improved his form under the Portuguese manager?
Comparing last season to his season so far, I will question if Defoe has actually improved under AVB, or if his continuous game time has created a false facade of increased performance levels.
Most importantly when comparing the two different seasons, the minutes played is very similar. Last season Defoe played 1287 minutes in the Premier League, a slightly larger number than his current 1266 minutes.
Last season, Defoe scored 11 goals and assisted a further one, only an additional goal created in comparison to the nine goals he has scored this season, combined with his assisted two to create an impressive total of 11.
So attacking wise, the forward has continued his lethal form which can be seen by an overview of last season. This is of course down to his role as substitute. Last season, Defoe made 14 appearances as a substitute in the Premier League and started only 11 games, a huge increase from his 15 appearances started this season.
Because of this, there is no doubt that because of his late introductions into games, the Englishman has found it easier to sneak into defences and boost his goalscoring record by creating the space which is notoriously harder to find in the early stages of games.
This can be shown by Defoe attempting more dribbles last season (27) than the current one (14). As well as this, the lack of space in the opposition’s defence can be shown by Defoe completing more passes towards his own defence or to the side with a large 77% this season, in contrast to last season’s 61%.
2011/12 stats on the left – 2012/13 stats on the right
Despite this, the forward has had almost identical shots, testing the keeper 23 times this season, in contrast to last season’s 26 shots. Additionally, Tottenham’s leading scorer has had almost the same shooting accuracy in comparison to his time under Redknapp, with last season’s 52% just edging over this season’s 51%.
The clear-cut chance conversion is where the progression really lies – getting regular football is allowing Defoe to become more clinical when finishing “sitters”. Last season he was converting 31% of the clear-cut chances (sitters) however he’s doubled that this season and is despatching 63% – this is compares favourable to the likes of van Persie (31%) and Suarez (43%) whilst rivals striker Giroud manages only a 17% clear-cut conversion. Only Michu out of the top strikers is better at converting these chances (over 70% conversion rate).
To conclude, with Jermain Defoe almost out-scoring last season’s tally, there is no doubt that the striker can continue to challenge for the golden boot trophy come the end of the season. With extra support from Bale, Lennon and Dempsey right behind the striker, Defoe has had great deliveries and passes coming his way. Finally, with Defoe looking to play on Sunday and therefore have a superior game-time than last season, the striker will be looking to continue to repay the trust which AVB has placed on him.
All of the stats from this article have been taken from the Opta Stats Centre at EPLIndex.com – Subscribe Now (Includes author privileges!) Check out our new Top Stats feature on the Stats Centre which allows you to compare all players in the league & read about new additions to the stats centre.