Welcome to the third and final part of this Stats Battle series. There’s been much debate already and I believe that’ll continue here.
If you’ve missed the first two parts here they are:
We’re at the semi-final stage right now. So without much further ado onto the semi’s.
Robin van Persie V David Silva
Into the real ‘meat’ of the contest now and not many could argue with the remaining 4 players, although John Terry may surprise one or two. Many would have predicted this particular stat battle as the final and it’s not one that comes easy to figure out. Silva has played 1,969 minutes of elite football in England this campaign and van Persie 2,164.
Again, positionally these two bare some similarity, but Silva does play in a deeper role than RVP and won’t be presented with as many goal-scoring opportunities as the Dutch international. The best thing to do here, is to run through all 3 areas of comparison – defensive, passing and goal threat.
RVP has been involved in more ground 50-50’s (249-202) but has won a lesser percentage of them (37%-44%). In tackles, Silva has been the more active, 35 to RVP’s 11, with the Dutchman just coming out the medallist , 64% to 63% of tackles won. Aerially, RVP has committed to 8x more aerial duels (80-10) than Silva, winning 3% more of them (33%-30%).
When it comes to spreading the ball, there aren’t many better in world football than David Silva. The Man City man has a pass succession rate of 86% against RVP’s of 69%, from nearly twice as many passes in the EPL (1,524-826). He also produces more successful dribbles than van Persie (1.2-1.16), but the Arsenal forward creates more crosses with the same accuracy.
In terms of creating chances, as aforementioned, Silva is the league’s leader with 12 assists, but RVP isn’t far off with 7, which for a forward who is scoring plenty himself, is not a bad return at all. Silva has though, created 15 more chances than Robin van Persie despite playing 195 minutes less, with only 3 from set plays compared to 17 from the Dutch front-man.
The goals speak for themselves, although it wouldn’t be too fair to look too closely at them considering the roles these two play, and when it comes to shooting, again David Silva is very similar to RVP in terms of accuracy (55%-57% respectively). Van Persie does have double the chance conversion rate of the Spaniard however (12%-24%).
The best way to determine a conclusion to this, the closest battle yet, is to look at whether the two are doing what they should be doing and what they are doing extra. Both players are the best currently in their roles – van Persie is notching more goals in the division than anyone and Silva is creating ahead of his competitors but in terms of ‘extra’, the Arsenal ‘outstander’ is doing far more in the creation stakes than Silva is in the goal-getting ones.
WINNER – ROBIN VAN PERSIE
Gareth Bale V John Terry
And so to the second semi-final, another obstinate battle between an attacking player and a defensive one. For fairness to prevail, and at this stage of the ‘competition’, all 3 elements of play (defending, passing, goal threat) need peering at. For context, Bale has started 2 more EPL games than the Chelsea captain, a total of 157 minutes more.
Bale has been part of 8 clean sheets for Spurs and Terry, just 6 at Chelsea. When the Welshman has played for Tottenham, they’ve conceded an average of 1.05 goals per game and for Terry at Chelsea, its 1.14. Terry comes out on top for ground and aerial 50-50’s, but tackle-wise, it’s Bale who has won the higher percentage (74%-70%).
For the passing numbers, Terry has made 141 more than Gareth Bale’s 1,141 passes in the league this season and produced a significantly higher proportion of successful ones (91%-77%). After that, its all Bale – more crosses, more created chances and more assists, which is to be expected.
In the attacking data, it is Bale again who prevails, again, rightly so. 5 more goals, 49 more shots, and a very slightly better shooting accuracy (47%-46%). However, John Terry does have those 4 goals from defence, which when you look at his conversion rate, he completely surpasses the Spurs man (31%-15%).
If the RVP/Silva battle was a ‘toughy’, then this is a nigh-on impossibility, like the Arteta one. Both players are performing above and beyond in their respective roles for their clubs and both are doing their ‘extra’ bit as well; Bale tackling and Terry getting goals. But, it has to come down to which player would make the biggest difference in a team right now.
Going on current form and progress over the season, Gareth Bale is the triumphant one – it has to be said though, that any ‘dream team’ would have to have both of these players included!
WINNER – GARETH BALE
Robin van Persie V Gareth Bale
There won’t be many arguing that these are two of, if not the, best two players in the EPL on current form. Robin van Persie continues to score goals and drag Arsenal from the depths of despair at times where Gareth Bale has to be the most developed and progressing young talents over recent years.
Considering RVP’s ability in the penalty area and Bale’s desire, hunger and consistency to provide chances, in the same team these two would be nothing short of devastating! But, that’s not the case at present – the question is, ‘who’s best?’.
Only 27 minutes of EPL football separate these two. Gareth Bale has been the more accomplished passer – 315 more passers than the Dutchman with an 8% better completion rate. He’s also produced 11 more successful dribbles, 0.51 more per game on average. The Welshman has produced 3 more crosses than RVP, with a better accuracy, as well as 1 more goal assist from open play and 3 more total chances created.
As with all battles thus far for Robin van Persie, the goals tell their own story. 0.92 goals per game on average for van Persie compared to 0.38 goals every game for Bale. Van Persie also has the more superior shooting accuracy and the greater chance conversion rate.
Seeming as this is the final, a little look at the defensive numbers will help to give a more comprehensive and ultimate view on the result. And here, it’s the Spurs man that stands out. 2 more clean sheets, less goals conceded per game and higher percentages for ground 50-50’s, aerial 50-50’s and tackles.
To make a decision, it’s important all footballing concepts are considered. Van Persie has an outstanding goal record this season and has provided more than his fair share in terms of chance creation. Bale has undoubted class when it comes to drive and power – he dribbles, he crosses, he creates chances and he scores goals, albeit probably not as many as his performances deserve.
When adding the defensive whitewash, statistically, by Bale the contest becomes a little clearer. Mirroring most of the latest battles, a team equipped with both of these players would be an ideal scenario, but in answer to the question of, ‘who is the best EPL player at present’, Gareth Bale is the winner due to his sheer consistency of displays in the league this campaign and his impact throughout every 90 minutes his participates in, both attacking-wise and defensively.
WINNER – GARETH BALE
Controversial? Probably and hopefully! But Bale’s performances have been breathtaking for Spurs this season which have aided their rise in the EPL table – having several other oars dong work alongside the Welshman has helped but he in particular has been a sensation.