Stewart Downing and Ashley Young netted Aston Villa a total of £35million. Nani proved that he was an able replacement for Cristiano Ronaldo. Matthew Etherington rediscovered his form of old. Chris Brunt shone in an average West Brom side. And David Silva showed that the £21million price tag was well justified. It was a great year for wingers from a fans point of view, but what do the stats say? Are they really justifying the price tags?
At Villa, the two big signings of the summer so far had a decent season in front of goal – both scoring 7, but with Young managing it in 4 less games than permanent starter Downing. In comparison, Malouda at Chelsea managed 13 goals from 38 appearances, Wigan star N’Zogbia, Walcott and Nani both got 9, and Etherington scored 5 while Brunt and Silva managed 4.
Young also managed to beat Downing in terms of assists, 10 – 7 in favour of the new United star. Nani was the leading assist maker in the league last season, racking up 14, while Chris Brunt got 9, N’Zogbia got 8, both Walcott and Silva managed 7, Etherington with 6 and Malouda finished bottom of this pile with 4.
In terms of pass completion, David Silva had the highest percentage, with 83% of his passes reaching their intended targets. The lowest of this group was Ashley Young, with only 65% completion. The rest were mingled between Stewart Downing on 69% and Malouda on 77%. For the tricky winger fans amongst you, Young was the most fouled out of the group, being fouled on 96 occasions throughout the season. Next in line is Nani, who won 62 free kicks, whilst the player who was fouled on the least number of occasions was Brunt, with only 15.
For wingers, ever since David Beckham, they are judged on crosses. Walcott has always had a reputation of being… well horrible at crosses. This is sadly true for the young Arsenal starlet, with 89 crosses throughout the season, 83 were caught by the opposing goalkeeper. Malouda had a better success rate, with 134 of his 261 crosses being caught by the keeper (51.3%). Chris Brunt had by far the best crossing stats, with only 77 of his 241 crosses being held by the keeper (31.9%), compared with Nani at 64.6% and Downing with 65.12%.
I reckon that the most successful wide man, looking at these two sets of stats, has to be Nani. 18 assists isn’t to be sniffed at, and only Malouda scored more than him. N’Zogbia had a truly amazing season at Wigan, whilst Brunt was one of the few stars at WBA. Young and Downing had good seasons at Villa, but a lack of consistency stat wise let them down, as did Heskey on many occasions. Walcott didn’t do enough to impress, and while Silva had a great first season at City, as usual, the red devils went one better.
So are wingers worth it? The answer seems to be yes, yes, a million times yes. Whether you have a solid hand like Downing and Malouda, a traditional winger like Brunt or Etherington or a showboat like Young or Nani, they all seem to get the job done. And for the way they light up Match of the Day, I thank them.
FYI – Ever wondered what I might mean by assists? Or what a possession duel is? What counts as a successful pass? Look no further – http://www.optasports.com/about/news/feature-opta%27s-football-action-definitions.html from our kind friends at Opta.