Ball retention & recycling | Noble compared to Arteta, Allen, Dembele et al

Ball retention & recycling | Noble compared to Arteta, Allen, Dembele et al

Ball Retention & Recycling

I’m a fan of Mark Noble and I don’t mind admitting, he’s proved me wrong this season and for me, he’s been excellent for West Ham.

At the time of writing , and with Noble missing for 5 of West Ham’s 29 games through injury, no West Ham player has made more tackles than him ( 95 ), no West Ham player has won more tackles than him ( 71 ), only Stephen N’Zonzi ( 208 ) has won possession of the ball more times than Noble ( 205, and N’Zonzi has started 3 more games ) in the entire Barclays Premier League, only Youssuf Mulumbu at WBA ( every 10:20 ) wins the ball more frequently than Noble ( every 10:29  ) and nobody in the Premier League wins the ball more frequently in the middle third of the pitch than Noble does ( every 18:19  ).

But it’s what Noble does in possession of the ball that we focus on in this article, and how he compares to other central midfielders in the Barclays Premier League.

Retention and recycling of the ball are two terms that have come into the footballing vocabulary in the England in only recent times.

Recent research showed that over the past 10 years, passing in the Barclays Premier League has increased on average, of 4.6% per season.

Of course this type of increase in passing can’t continue and will eventually level out to some degree but it does give an indication of how much retention of the ball is now valued in both the Premier League, and other Leagues around Europe.

The wonderful Prozone Sports recently shared some research which shows how some of the best teams in Europe’s elite leagues are passing the ball more and more each season.

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Passing of course isn’t the be all and end all within the game and doesn’t guarantee 3 points, if it did we’d be seeing Swansea and Arsenal winning all domestic trophies in England and nobody ever beating Barcelona.

As we can see with the below Points > Passes chart, just because a team pass the ball 400 plus times per game, as the more successful teams in terms of league position actually do, it doesn’t generally make them any less effective in terms of threatening their Premier League status, as both Stoke and Newcastle year after year in recent times have shown, and West Ham have this season.

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So with retention of the ball comes recycling of the ball. Each team has a player who’s mission on each and every Saturday ( or Sunday or Monday, whatever SKY decide ) is to recycle the ball to other, normally more ” dangerous ” ,players in the team, keeping the ball moving and keeping the team ticking over.

You remember the Leon Britton > Xavi comparisons last season ?

Well they were, as well as being a tad misleading, a great insight into recycling of the ball if anyone actually managed to look further down the list after the first shock of seeing Leon Britton ( who i like for the record, West Ham Academy boy too ) mentioned in the same sentence as Xavi.

In this article, we looked at the players in each team, all central midfielders, who recycle and retain the ball the most for their respective teams.

We split it up to see how Noble ( and West Ham ) compared to the teams and players in the top half of the league, and also the bottom half.

First of all, Mark Noble and West Ham comparison with the top half of the table.

Definitions : TTP Total Team Passes – TPP Total Player Passes – TPA Team Passing Accuracy – PPA Player Passing Accuracy  – ** PI% Player Influence **- PPR Player Passes Right – PPL Player Passing Left – PPF Player Passing Forward – PPB Player Passing Backwards

Please Note : ** PI% Player Influence ** is the total amount of accurate player passes to the total passes of accurate team passes.

Noble Retention

  • No player passes the ball forward more than Noble does, with 42% of his passes.
  • No player has a lower pass accuracy % than Noble, with 82%.
  • No team pass the ball with less accuracy than West Ham, with 74% pass completion.
  • No player passes the ball backwards more than Jonathan De Guzman ( in the entire league ) at Swansea, with 22%
  • No player has a better passing accuracy % than Mikel Arteta ( in the entire league ) at Arsenal, with 92%
  • No team has a better pass completion % than Arsenal and Manchester United ( in the entire league ), with 86%

Secondly, Mark Noble and West Ham comparison with the bottom half of the table.

Definitions : TTP Total Team Passes – TPP Total Player Passes – TPA Team Passing Accuracy – PPA Player Passing Accuracy  – ** PI% Player Influence **- PPR Player Passes Right – PPL Player Passing Left – PPF Player Passing Forward – PPB Player Passing Backwards

Please Note : ** PI% Player Influence ** is the total amount of accurate player passes to the total passes of accurate team passes.

Noble Retention Lower

Points of interest :

  • No player passes the ball forward more than Noble does, with 42% of his passes.
  • Only Mikael Liegertwood at Reading has a lower pass accuracy % than Noble, with 76%.
  • Only Stoke and Reading pass the ball with less accuracy than West Ham, with 70% and 69%  pass completion respectively.
  • No player passes the ball backwards more than Seb Larsson at Sunderland, with 18%
  • No player has a better passing accuracy % than James McCarthy at Wigan, with 88%
  • No team has a better passing accuracy % than Wigan, with 83%

Conclusions :

Some interesting tidbits and we have only scratched the surface with the numbers we gave in the charts above.

As mentioned at the start of the article, Mark Noble offers much more to West Ham than just his massive influence in retaining and recycling the ball is concerned.

How far he is away from an England cap though like so many West Ham fans have recently been asking, is something only Mr Hodgson can answer.

[box_light]All of the stats in the tables from this article have been taken from the Opta Stats Centre at EPLIndex.comSubscribe 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.[/box_light]