According to various outlets, Manchester United have bid for Everton left back Leighton Baines as David Moyes looks to strengthen ahead of a competitive 2013/2014 season. Although, the bid seems to have been knocked back by the Merseyside outfit – but why exactly are United looking at the England international when they have two left backs on their books, in Patrice Evra and Alexander Buttner? EPL Index takes a look at the trio’s statistics for the 2012/2013 season.
It can be argued that Baines and Evra top the pile of the best full backs in the league, as the pair both play to a consistent level with the pair making 38 games and 34 games respectively. They are known for their attacking roles in their teams – but how do their defensive capabilities shape up?
In terms of minutes per defensive error, the Everton left back is the clear winner, with 1,710 minutes per defensive error compared to Patrice Evra’s 1,020. Baines also leads the way in the total ground 50-50’s department with a 61% win, compared to Evra’s 52%.
Looking at the aerial 50-50’s, it is Evra who claims this win over the England international – with a 62% win compared to Baines’ 39%. However, the tackle success is a closer competition in terms of win percentages. Baines averaged a 79% tackle success from a total of 92 tackles, while Evra averaged a 81% tackle success from a total of 82 tackles. Baines can claim the most amount of interceptions award with 61 compared to Evra’s 53. Astoundingly, they both possessed the exact amount of times dribbled past (22) and minutes per tackle (37).
As expected, Alexander Buttner’s defensive stats are much lower than Baines and Evra’s, considering the 24-year old made only 4 Premier League starts. Buttner had a 56% total ground 50-50 win percentage, averaged 382 minutes per defensive error, a 50% aerial 50-50 win and a 63% tackle success.
Possession and Passing
Possession is key to any team who want to achieve sustainability in the Premier League, and this is shown with the stats between Baines and Evra. Leighton Baines lost possession to his opponents 27 times in 38 Premier League games, while Patrice Evra lost possession 38 times in 34 games, the former averaging 127 minutes per loss of possession – the latter averaged 81 minutes per loss of possession. The pair were close in terms of minutes per possession won, with Baines averaging 22 minutes per possession won – while Evra averaged 20 minutes per possession won.
Baines was dispossessed a total of 34 times, while Evra was dispossessed 40 times.
Like possession, passing accuracy is key to any team challenging in the top half of the table, particularly Manchester United who challenge for the title every year. Most teams highlight that ball retention is key, and Manchester United and Everton are no different.
Patrice Evra beats Leighton Baines in terms of pass completion percentages, 87% for Evra and 82% for Baines – although, Baines played 1,368 accurate passes out of 1,663 passes, while Evra played 1,238 out of 1,421. Both players are forward thinking full backs, Baines played 39% of his passes forward while Evra played 33% of his passes forward.
Alexander Buttner averaged 35 minutes per loss of possession, 21 minutes per possession won. The 24-year old Dutchman was dispossessed 8 times in 4 appearances.
In terms of passing, Buttner had a 82% open play pass completion (140 out of 170 were successful.) 34% of his passes were forward, while 16% were backwards – compare that to Baines and Evra who played the ball backwards 13% of the time.
Creativity and Goals
Both players had a great season in terms of defending and retaining possession, what were there attacking stats I hear you ask? Well, they excelled in that department too.
Baines and Evra both assisted five goals to their teams cause while also adding goals to their team – Baines scored 5 for Everton, while Evra scored 4. One player a set piece specialist, while the other contributes headers from set pieces (cc St James’ Park for the pair’s outstanding performances infront of goal.)
In terms of creativity, Baines averaged 155.5 minutes per clear-cut chance created while Evra averaged 437 minutes – a huge difference between the pair.
Baines and Evra both successfully dribbled past their opponents on numerous occasions – (30/60 attempts) for Baines, (28/61 attempts) for Evra.
One strength of Baines is his 1-2 work – playing the ball to Fellaini or Neville in the middle while overlapping on the left to fire a cross into the box or to the edge of the area. Baines fired the ball 353 times into the box, of which 106 were accurate – giving the English international a 30% accuracy.
Evra, on the other hand, is methodical in his play and tends to leave the creativity to the other players in his team, but still offers an option on the left-hand side for his team-mates. Evra played the ball into the box 87 times, 20 of those were accurate – giving the Frenchman a 23% accuracy.
Buttner, despite playing a considerable amount of games less than Evra and Baines, managed to create and score goals in his four appearances. The Dutchman managed 1 assist and 2 goals in four appearances.
It is rumoured that Everton have knocked back Man Utd’s approach for Leighton Baines, but usually money talks for United when they flash the cash for other Premier League clubs, for example Wayne Rooney, Dimitar Berbatov, Michael Carrick and Antonio Valencia.
But it still remains to be seen whether United actually need Baines, as Evra will not let his place in the team go easily, and Buttner is a player who can develop to bigger and better things if he is given a chance by David Moyes – but it seems that Moyes is looking to players he trusts, and the ever consistent Leighton Baines is that player.
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