Many people generalise a players passing stats and say how good a player is just on the number of passes he has made and how many passes he has completed, but there are many other factors that people do not tend to take into consideration.
With that in mind this comparison not only looks at the general passing statistics but also compares where on the pitch the top 5 passers make their passes (own half of the pitch, attacking half of the pitch and the final third of the pitch), what type of passes the midfielders are making (long balls, through balls, short passes) and how often they make these passes this season.
To begin with we must first find out which 5 midfielders have made the most passes this season.
As you can see Mikel Arteta, Yaya Toure, Michael Carrick, Santi Cazorla and Joe Allen have made more passes than any other midfielders this season. Arteta has made a pass every 0.9 minutes this season, Toure has made a pass every 1 minute this season and Carrick, Cazorla and Allen have all made a pass every 1.2 minutes this season.
Arteta has also completed 93.39% of his passes this season, which is 1.31% more of his passes than Allen, 2.65% more than Cazorla, 3.2% more than Carrick and 3.73% more than Toure.
Where On The Pitch Most of Their Passes Are Made
Knowing where on the pitch the midfielders make their passes is important as it is easier to complete a pass in your own half than it is in the final third of the pitch as there is generally less pressure on the players when making passes in their own half.
Mikel Arteta makes a pass in his own half every 2.2 minutes, which is more often than the other top midfield passers. This is compared to Allen who makes a pass in his own half every 2.5 minutes, Carrick (2.7), Toure (2.8) and Cazorla who makes a pass in his own half every 5 minutes.
Yaya Toure and Santi Cazorla are the most accurate passers in their own half as they have found a teammate with 97% of their own half passes this season. This was 1% more than Joe Allen, Mikel Arteta and Michael Carrick, who have all completed 96% of their passes in their own half this season.
Cazorla has made a pass in the attacking half of the pitch every 1.4 minutes this season, which is 0.1 minutes more often than Toure, 0.2 minutes more often than Arteta, 0.7 minutes more often than Carrick and 1 minute more often than Allen. Cazorla has the worst attacking half passing accuracy out the five players though as he has found a teammate with 82% of his passes in the attacking half. This is compared to Toure who has completed 84%, Carrick (85%), Allen (87%) and Arteta who has completed 90% of the passes that he has made in the attacking half.
Cazorla also made a pass in the final third of the pitch more often than the other players, as he made a pass every 2.7 minutes. This was compared to Toure, who made a pass in the final third every 3.2 minutes, Arteta (3.9), Carrick (5.2) and Allen who made a final third pass every 5.6 minutes. Cazorla was also the most accurate in the final third of the pitch, finding a teammate with 84% of his passes. This was 1% better than Allen and Arteta, 6% better than Carrick and 10% better than Toure.
Next Page: What types of passes are these midfielders playing? Direction? Long ball? Through balls?
As well as looking at how often each of the top 5 passers made a pass in their own half of the pitch, the attacking half of the pitch and the final third of the pitch and their completion rates we also looked at what percentage of each player’s total passes were in each section of the pitch.
As you can see Joe Allen makes the highest percentage of his passes in the defensive half of the pitch than any of the other players. Allen has made 49% of his passes in the defensive half of the pitch which is 5% more than Carrick, 6% more than Arteta, 14% more than Toure and 27% more than Cazorla.
Cazorla has made 78% of his passes in the attacking half of the pitch and 40% of his passes in the final third, which is more than any of the other players. Toure has made 65% of his passes in the attacking half and 32% in the final third, while Arteta has made 57% of his passes in the attacking half and 23% in the final third. The two players to play the fewest amount of their passes in the attacking half and the final third of the pitch are Michael Carrick, who played 56% of his passes in the attacking half and 23% in the final third and Joe Allen who played 51% of his passes in the attacking half and 22% of his passes in the final third.
What Type Of Passes Are The Midfielders Playing?
As well as knowing where on the pitch the midfielders are playing their passes it is also important to know whether the players are predominantly playing short balls or whether they are playing longer balls or even through balls, as it is much easier to complete a short pass than it is completing a long pass. It is also interesting to look at the direction in which the players are passing the ball, however this may vary on the role that each player has in their team.
Michael Carrick has played 35% of his passes forwards this season, compared to Allen who has played 31% of his passes forward, Arteta and Toure who have both played 27% of their passes forwards and Cazorla who has played 24% of his passes forwards this season.
Cazorla has played 18% of his passes backwards this season, 6% more than Arteta and Toure, 7% more than Allen and 13% more than Carrick. Arteta and Toure have both played 61% of their passes sideways this season, while Carrick has played 60% of his passes sideways and Allen and Cazorla have played 58% of their passes sideways this season.
Cazorla has also played a through ball every 38 minutes this season, which is 26 minutes more often than Toure, 187 minutes more often than Carrick and 412 minutes more often than Arteta.
Yaya Toure has played a long ball the most often out of all the players as he has played a long ball every 8.8 minutes this season. This is compared to Allen who has played one every 9.6 minutes, Carrick (12.2), Arteta (12.5) and Cazorla (16.3). Arteta has been the most accurate with his long balls this season, finding a teammate with 94% of them. This is 3% more accurate than Joe Allen, 5% more accurate than Cazorla, 14% more accurate than Toure and 18% more accurate than Carrick.
So if we look at the original table we can see that Mikel Arteta has made 117 more passes than Santi Cazorla and completed 2.65% more of his passes than his Arsenal teammate, which is pretty impressive.
However, what we can now see is that 21% more of Arteta’s passes are in his own half where it is easier to find a teammate and 17% more of Cazorla’s passes are made in the final third, where he is under more pressure from defenders and has less time and space to make a pass than Arteta does in his own half.
This is mainly due to the roles each player has in the team, as Arteta is playing as a deep-lying playmaker this season while Cazorla is playing just behind the striker. Their roles in the team determine how many of their passes they will play in each section of the pitch and what sort of passes they are most likely to play.
Arteta will play more sideways passes as it is his role to recycle play, keep the ball moving and dictate the tempo and rhythm of Arsenal’s play, while Cazorla will be looking to play more through balls as it is his job to create chances for his team.
So even though Cazorla is fourth in terms of passes made this season, the fact that 40% of his passes are in the final third and he has played a through ball every 2.7 minutes this season just goes to show how impressive his overall passing accuracy of 90.74% is.
So hopefully now people will look at the role each midfielder plays for their team, what sort of passes they play and where they play them before generalising their passing statistics and claim a player is better than another just because they have made more passes.
All of the stats from this article have been taken from the Opta Stats Centre at EPLIndex.com – Subscribe Now (Includes author privileges!) Check out our new Top Stats feature on the Stats Centre which allows you to compare all players in the league & read about new additions to the stats centre.