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Everton – Steven Pienaar: Vital or Dispensable | Opta Stats

For Everton and their fans, the sense of déjà vu gets stronger by the season. Another dysfunctional summer led to the customary slow start with Everton winning just five of their first 15 league games. Dismal defeats to Bolton and Tottenham left David Moyes’ team languishing in 14th by mid-January.

Thankfully, the Tottenham defeat signalled the start of a recovery with Everton losing just three of their last 23 matches. From January 1st onwards, only the two Manchester clubs gained more points than Moyes’ team. During the second half of the season, Everton were the third best team in the country.

The impact of the new signings was instantly apparent. Unbeaten in 27 league games, Darron Gibson is the lucky charm, Steven Pienaar adds the flair and Nikica Jelavic scores the goals; nine in 10 league starts. The three new players have appeared together in six games; Everton are unbeaten in those six.

Despite Gibson’s unbeaten run and Jelavic’s goals, Steven Pienaar has had arguably the best impact. The South African’s performances have been tremendous and Everton win more games with Pienaar (43%) than without him (37.5%).

Without Pienaar, Everton scored just 24 in 24 games. However, with Pienaar in the side, Everton score at a rate of almost two a game (26 in 14 games). The impact of Jelavic has been a big reason but Pienaar’s creative talents have been at the forefront of Everton’s recent form.

With his outstanding work rate, Pienaar has strengthened the team defensively. Without Pienaar, Everton concede 1.08 goals per game. Everton conceded 1.00 goals per game in Pienaar’s 14 appearances. Aside from the games at Old Trafford and Anfield, Everton conceded just seven in the other 12 games. David Moyes’ side ended the campaign with six clean sheets in their last eight home games.

Given his impact on the team, it is clear that Pienaar offers flair and ability. Everton’s passing accuracy in 2011/2012 was 77%; Pienaar recorded 83% from his 14 appearances. As the table above shows, Pienaar’s passing is comfortably above the Everton average in all areas.

Perhaps most telling is the through ball statistic. Pienaar attempted 12 through balls – the most by any Everton player this season. The next best is Leon Osman with 8 in 30 appearances. This highlights Pienaar’s willingness to look for possession and create openings for his teammates.

With Pienaar in the side, there is a bigger emphasis on ball retention. Without Pienaar, Everton attempt an average of 379 passes per game. Since Pienaar’s arrival, Everton are attempting an extra 47 passes per match. Everton’s passing accuracy is 78% with Pienaar, without him that drops to 76%.

An in-depth look at the creative side of the game shows how successful Pienaar has been in his short spell. Despite only featuring in 14 games, Pienaar ended the season as Everton’s third most creative player with the midfielder creating 32 chances.

Leighton Baines creates a chance every 44 minutes; this equates to two chances per game. Pienaar created 32 chances at a rate of one every 38 minutes. Pienaar’s better minutes per chance ratio makes him the most creative player at the club. That is an impressive feat for a player who was short on form and fitness upon arrival.

When compared to Leon Osman, it is easy to see how big an impact Pienaar had. Osman featured in a total of 3o leagues games, playing 2,377 minutes of football and creating 38 chances. Despite a 16 match, 1,138-minute advantage, Osman only created six chances more than Pienaar.

During his 1,239 minutes of football, Pienaar recorded six assists – the most of any Everton player this season. Averaging an assist every 206 minutes, Pienaar leads the way with the best minutes per assist ratio. Pienaar just edges out Royston Drenthe in terms of assists and assist ratio.

Pienaar’s impact on Everton is clear to see. Despite his short stint at the club, Pienaar recorded the most assists and the best ratios in the main creativity categories. The South African is keen to stay and David Moyes wants to keep him; the onus is now on Everton to make it happen (finances permitting).

All of the stats from this article have been taken from the Opta Stats Centre at EPLIndex.comSubscribe Now (Includes author privileges!) See Demo’s and videos about the Stats Centre & read about new additions to the stats centre.

Luke O'Farrell
Luke O'Farrellhttp://www.viewfromtheroyalbluemersey.wordpress.com
Write about Everton for ESPN and EPL Index. Evertonian with a keen interest in the tactical and statistical. Twitter: @lukeofarrell
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