Welcome to a weekly article on EPLIndex.com examining some of the statistical Talking-Points from the Premier League fixture week. This week Karsten looks at Super Jan, Lucas Leiva, Lukaku, Benteke, Remy and Norwich City. All of the Talking Points are below.
Super Jan for So-so Spurs
It’s safe to say many expected a former Ajax player to be the greatest offensive threat in this fixture, but it is unlikely many expected that player to be Jan Vertonghen. The Belgian international turned in a performance of the highest quality at both ends of the pitch contributing both of Tottenham’s goals and distributing the ball well while staying tidy in back. While Tottenham’s defensive errors were ultimately their undoing in the match, Vertonghen only turned over possession once in his own half and made two crucial tackles inside the box. The brace brings Vertonghen’s goal haul for the season so far to five, even with Leighton Baines who plays in a much more attacking position. While Vertonghen struggled initially to lock down the centreback position in AVB’s preferred first 11, frequently being deployed at left back earlier in the season, it is safe to assume that with continued performances like this, the spot will be safely his own.
Liverpool Attack Benefits from Steady Lucas
There is no doubt that Liverpool’s attack benefits with Lucas Leiva at the base of midfield. Sitting as a screen in front of the backline, Lucas is incredibly effective at positioning himself in a manner than alleviates defensive responsibilities and allows more risk taking and room for error from the back line. Against Tottenham, Liverpool’s greatest attacking threat came from the left side where Jose Enrique frequently marauded forward to combine with Luis Suarez, who he seems to have been a great understanding with. With Coutinho, a creatively focused and undersized newcomer to the Premier League, also deployed on the left Enrique’s propensity to get forward has the potential to make the left side a serious liability for Liverpool. Examining Lucas’s activity however, it is clear that he is adept at covering the vacated space allowing Enrique to move forward with minimal risk. While playing in a titularly central role, all of Lucas’s successful tackles came on the left side of the field as well three of his four interceptions.
Lukaku Continues to Thrive at High-flying West Brom…
Despite failing to convert from the spot, Romelu Lukaku scored again this week against Swansea to remain one of the most consistent strikers in the Premier League returning a goal every 103 minutes (would have been even better had he scored the penalty). This consistency must leave Chelsea wondering where they will find a use for Fernando Torres next season who only returns a goal every 294. Lukaku’s 13 league goals place him as the sixth highest scorer in the Premier League. The fourth highest spot is held by Rafa Benitez’s preferred starter, Demba Ba. Between the two, Torres looks superfluous, especially considering his wages. In the eight games since January, Lukaku has scored six goals in seven starts and scored as a substitute to clinch a win against Liverpool. In the same period, Torres has started four of eight games and failed to find the net. With Lukaku’s remarkable maturation at West Brom and the purchase of Ba, it is hard to imagine there will be much space for Torres in the Chelsea side next season.
…While Remy and Benteke Remain Consistent for Bottom Dwellers
Another week and another goal each for Loic Remy and Christian Benteke. In his four starts for QPR, Loic Remy has contributed three goals, helping QPR to two wins and two draws. Aston Villa’s fortunes have similarly been dictated by the performances of Christian Benteke. Villa have taken 19 of their 27 points from games in which Christian Benteke has scored and manged only a single win when he has not. With QPR still stuck to the bottom on 23 points, and Aston Villa perched just above the relegation zone with 27, next week’s match when they face each other at Loftus Road is a true relegation six-pointer. If both on-form strikers rise to the occasion it should be interesting scrap. The stats clearly indicate the determining factor in the match will likely be who is able to turn in a better performance, Remy or Benteke.
Norwich Feel Effects of Miserable Weather Conditions
Miserable weather seemed to put a damper on Norwich’s passing in their home match with Southampton. Compared with their last home fixture against Everton, which by no means was a dominant performance, the Canary’s passing was woeful. Norwich managed only a 61% completion rate, well below their season average of 74%. Southampton meanwhile managed surprising fluency and maintained a completion rate comparable to their season average. They did however have a greater than normal share of this passing in their own defensive zone and only managed a below average 57% completion rate in the final third.
The highest point of excitement in the bore draw was Artur Boruc’s stellar save to denial of Grant Holt’s attempt from the spot in added time.