We all have a good idea of who the most creative and clinical players are this current season and last season: players like David Silva, Juan Mata, Luka Modric and Robin Van Persie. By that we are referring to how good these players are at scoring goals, creating chances, contributing assists, putting in crosses etc. But let’s take a step back and find out, before they contribute to these seemingly important statistics, just how efficient they are in their teams as passers in the final third of the pitch, and how this contributes to the attacking performances of their respective teams.
Using the Top Stats Area (Subscribe now!), we can determine who is the most efficient final third passer, and see how it relates to their overall creativity and how clinical they are in front of goal. For the sake of simplicity, I have broken down the creativity of a player by the number chances created and how clinical a player is by the number of shots made.
Final Third Passes: 2011/2012 Season
Here are the top 10 final third passers last season.
From the table, it is no surprise to see that David Silva tops the list with a phenomenal number of 1001 final third passes (of which 80% are accurate), more than 100 passes than the second player on the list, who happens to be Modric. With an impressive 885 final third passes, it clear to see why he has been so highly regarded and is now with Real Madrid.
Interestingly, Rooney is the only out-and-out striker who makes this list. This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise actually, as his usual style of play is to try to dictate and link play between midfield and attack, so his distribution of the ball in the final third of the pitch would be significantly higher than other forwards. However, he has a rather comparatively low rate of final third passes per chance created, but an amazing rate of 6.9 passes per shot towards goal, showing that his priorities as a striker is still prevalent despite dropping deep at times.
It might surprise a few to see a defender among the list; Jose Enrique. As an attacking fullback, it goes to show the number of times he went up not only beyond the half way line, but also to the final third of the pitch to give more options for his team in attack.
So with all that said, the big question is this: Are the top final third passers the most creative players in the Premier League?
For one, Silva, the best final third passer last season, was also the most creative player as well with 104 chances created. Modric was in third place with 96 chances created. Now here’s where it gets interesting. Juan Mata is the second-most creative player in the league last season, but he is not even in the top 10 list of final third passers. He qualifies only at number 13. What this means is that it goes to show how well he uses the ball when he is it in his possession. From the table, we see that his 6.2 final third passes per every chance created is the best ratio among all the listed players at the top of the table.
Robin Van Persie, top goal scorer and 4th most creative player last season, makes it only at number 27 in final third passes ranking. But again, similar to Mata, it’s what he does with the ball in the final third of the pitch that is devastating. Not only does he have the best number of final passes per shot (4), his number of final passes per chances created is 6.1, better than anyone else on the table. This, if anything, gives another insight as to just how an impressive a season Van Persie had last season.
On most occasions, the final third passers do give an indication on the creativity of the player, but there are the exceptions to this pattern, as seen from the examples of Mata and Van Persie.
Next Page: Top Passers in 2012/13 (Does not include yesterday’s games)