At first glance, the above image reflects favourably on Darron Gibson’s time at Old Trafford, as the Manchester United win percentage towers over the Everton success rate. However, the detail is in the fine print and the reality that Everton fight a weight below United. The real story lies in his impressive unbeaten record at both clubs. Making a total of 54 league appearances in blue and red, Gibson has tasted defeat just five times. Regardless of any mitigating factors, such as venue or opponent, the bottom line is: Darron Gibson rarely loses football matches – a statistic that Everton fans are starting to notice.
Marking the club’s first cash addition in months, Darron Gibson joined Everton in January 2012 for around £500,000. Despite the knockdown price, several raised eyebrows greeted the move. Instead of using Gibson, Sir Alex Ferguson opted to bring Paul Scholes out of retirement; the move spoke volumes for some fans. Fortunately, the Republic of Ireland midfielder has gone from strength to strength and quickly dispelled any doubts.
Positionally astute and technically sound, the former United player has added a touch of class to the Everton midfield. At his best, Gibson boasts a wide passing range, adding another dimension to the engine room. Answering questions over his fitness and attitude, Gibson fits comfortably into the team’s pressing style and leads by example.
The results since Gibson’s arrival are testament to his impact. Last season, the Toffees were unbeaten in league matches involving Gibson – 6 wins and 5 draws. With Gibson, Everton won 54.55% of matches, but the figure dropped to a lowly 16.67% when a brief injury sidelined the midfielder – Everton winning just once in six matches without him.
Injuries have plagued Gibson this season, but his impact remains unchanged when fit and available. Boasting a win percentage of 50%, Everton have lost just twice with Gibson this season (and one of those was West Brom, where Gibson went off injured at 0-0).
Without Gibson, the number of defeats is also two, though, the win percentage drops from 50% to 28.57%. Everton stutter when Gibson is out, winning just four of 14 league games without him. Unfortunately, this season, the midfielder has missed more matches (14) than he has played (12).
Using a full comparison, the importance of Gibson is obvious. The overall win percentage stands at 52.17% and this figure more than halves (25%) in his absence. When Gibson starts, Everton score more goals per game and concede fewer; his prowess in attack and defence is a vital cog in this blue wheel. While the draw percentage is high, regardless of Gibson’s presence, the higher win percentage highlights his importance to the team.
Individually, Gibson’s statistics compare well against his teammates. Last season, his 50-50 success rates were around the team average. The areas where Gibson excelled – passing and tackling – are arguably his strongest areas, with the midfielder above average in every aspect.
Whilst his tackle success (80.95%) sneaked above the team average (78.21%), passing is Gibson’s primary ability. His overall completion rate (84%) comfortably outstrips the team average (77%) and the other passing numbers impress further.
In his own half, where composure is crucial, Gibson (93%) easily topped the team average (87%). In attacking areas, the passing numbers verged on imperious compared with teammates. In the opposing half and the final third, Gibson posted the same percentage (77%); the midfielder well above the team averages in both (68%, 67%).
Injuries have checked Gibson’s progress this season, the midfielder searching for his best form after a troublesome thigh strain. In spite of recent setbacks, Gibson has still impressed with his statistics in 2012-13. Pass completion (81%) remains above the team average (79%) along with the defensive and attacking figures.
Overall, Gibson’s influence is clear; Everton are better when he plays. Providing the necessary link between attack and defence, Gibson is proving fantastic value for money. Given some of the prices paid in football, this £500,000 investment looks shrewder by the week. Aiming to put his injuries behind him, a fully-fit Gibson can help to lift David Moyes’ side, as the season nears an end.
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Write about Everton for ESPN and EPL Index. Evertonian with a keen interest in the tactical and statistical. Twitter: @lukeofarrell
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