Stoke City only scored 46 goals last season. Champions Manchester United scored 78. 12th placed Newcastle United scored 56. Blackpool, who were relegated in 19th, scored 55. If the EPL stats show anything, it’s that goals are important than clean sheets.
Kenwyne Jones ran away with the accolade of top Stoke goalscorer on 9 goals, while Jon Walters and Robert Huth – yes, the former Chelsea and Middlesbrough centre back Robert Huth, both finished on 6 goals. Compared to these, Berbatov and Tevez were joint top scorers on 20 goals, whilst the likes of DJ Campbell, Peter Odemwingie, Kevin Nolan and Steven Fletcher all outscored Jones.
Not promising reading for Stoke fans, but is there hope? The eternal question asked of goalscorers, is what else do they bring to the table? Assists, Chance Creation, Possession Duels and Loss of the ball statistics will be analysed.
Jones, Jones, calling Dr.Jones… Well, without him, Stoke’s goal tally for the season would have been at 38 – the 2nd lowest in the division, with only Birmingham on 37 goals propping them up. Jones started 33 games, with another appearance off the bench. 77 shots came from Jones in these games, with a total of 9 goals scored, a goal every 8.6 shots. In comparison, Van Persie managed a goal every 4.7 shots, Tevez managed one every 4.3 shots and Berbatov scored a goal once in an incredible 3.95 shots. So Jones? Average in front of goals, at best.
Jones is seen as the big man up front, able to hold the ball up and make the chances for others. No. In the last Premier League season, he clocked up exactly 0 assists. Yes he ‘created’ 25 chances, but none led to a goal. He won just over 50% of his 592 possession duels, whilst he lost possession of his own fault 152 times – 72 times when he was caught on the ball, and a further 72 times through bad control. All in all, you have to ask – were the 9 goals worth it?
Unlike Jones, I’m not sure of a funny intro for Walters, so he probably wins that round. Walters had 27 starts last season, with 9 substitute appearances. In total, he managed 6 goals, and although 3 less than Jones, he managed this in 38 shots, giving him a goal every 6.3 shots – 2 shots per goal more efficient than Jones.
Unlike Jones, Walters managed to help out his team mates, with two assists. He also created 25 chances – an 8% assist rate, if there is such a thing. However, where Walters’s game falls down is when faced with the dreaded possession duel. Out of 385 duels, he lost 227 of them – 58%. He did however lose possession on fewer occasions than Jones, only 81 times.
Huth? I hear you ask. Yes, the joint second top scorer for Stoke last season was… a big German centre back. With 35 games under his belt, he managed to score 6 goals, tying him with Walters and tying for top scoring defender with Brende Haangeland in the process. Surprisingly for a defender, in my opinion, Huth managed 45 shots last season, just over 1.2 per game. Although it only works out at a goal every 7.5 shots, it’s still a higher rate than Jones.
Huth only created 8 goal scoring chances, but when 2 of these are converted into goals, a 25% assist rate doesn’t look too bad for a defender. In terms of the possession duels, Huth won 60.6% of his 310 duels, again favourable to either of his contenders above. He also only lost possession 21 times during the season, more than 7 times less than Jones, and 4 times less than Walters. Also in Huth’s favour? He was involved in 8 of the 9 matches in which Stoke kept a clean sheet.
So who was Stokes most important player last season? Looking at these stats, I don’t believe you can look further than their number 4, Robert Huth. Sure, Jones scored more, Etherington got 8 assists and Pennent rediscovered his form, but Huth was a rock for Stoke, and his stats cannot be argued with.