In the modern day game, the box to box midfielder is a crucial part to a team. A good box to box midfielder links the defence and the attack, push’s forward to keep the play ticking but also gets back to defend then win the ball back and makes it his goal to cover every blade of grass on the pitch in each and every game. It takes not only technical ability to take on this role but, it takes extreme stamina and the discipline to get back and defend for the team. These players are the engine of the team and every team, especially the top ones, need a player like this.
Each of the “top 6” in the Premier League has a player filling that role, as does every top team in the world. Arsenal have Aaron Ramsey, Chelsea have Ramires, Liverpool have Jordan Henderson, Manchester City have Yaya Toure, Manchester United have Michael Carrick and Tottenham have Paulinho and, while all top teams have them, we’ll look into see how each of the “top 6’s” box to box midfielders are performing so far this season.
On the defensive side of the ball, it’s all about quickly making tackles, getting stuck in and winning the ball back to turn the play back into attack. Aaron Ramsey has been the pick of the bunch in not only ground duels but tackling. Ramsey has attempted the most ground duels and made more tackles than anyone else in the league. Ramsey has also had the highest tackle success rate while Jordan Henderson has had the highest success rate in ground duels. On the other end of the spectrum, Carrick, Paulinho and Toure have all only made 15 tackles this season, less than the rest of the group, and Carrick has attempted the least ground duels. The other part of the job is winning back possession and Carrick has done that most often, winning possession back every 10 minutes, while Paulinho has won possession back at the lowest rate, winning it back every 17 minutes.
Passing and Possession
Many times these guys will run forward with the ball and hold the ball making it important for them to retain possession. Yaya Toure has retained possession well and has only lost possession every nine minutes while Jordan Henderson has only been dispossessed four times, fewer than anyone else in the group. Ramsey has lost possession most often, losing it every six minutes, while Paulinho has been dispossessed 12 times, more than anyone else.
As the engine’s of their respective teams, these players must ping passes all over. Yaya Toure has attempted the most passes with 643 slightly edging out Michael Carrick who has 638. Toure also has the highest passing percentage at 91% but in this category no one is close with second place Paulinho and Aaron Ramsey at 87%. These guys need to push the team forward with their passing and make sure the team doesn’t be content with passing around the back. Carrick has the highest percentage of his passes going forward with 35% of his passes going forward while Henderson has the least with only 25% of his passes going forward. Henderson also has the highest percentage of his passes backwards with 20% of his passes backwards and Carrick with the lowest percentage backwards with only 9% backwards.
Creativity and Goal scoring
While creating may not be these players best attribute, they all do have quite a bit of creativity in them. Aaron Ramsey and Ramires have created the most chances both creating 11 so far this season. Ramsey has created the most clear cut chances creating with three. Toure has created the least chances with only nine and neither Carrick not Henderson have created a clear cut chance yet. Aaron Ramsey has made the most successful dribbles with 13 and Carrick the least with only three successful dribbles this season.
In the modern day game, a team needs to get goals from the midfield. This means these guys must have that as a part of their game to be a top notch box to box midfielder. Aaron Ramsey has picked up five goals, making him the highest scoring midfielder in the entire league, while Henderson, Ramires and Carrick are all yet to score this season. Of the three that have scored this season, Toure has the best chance conversion percentage at 40% while Paulinho is tied for the worst chance conversion rate of all goal scorers in the league, with teammate Andros Townsend, at 5%. Both Ramsey and Yaya Toure have 100% clear cut chance conversion rates, but Aaron Ramsey has converted three while Toure has only converted one. The other four all have 0% clear cut chance conversion rates. While Carrick and Ramires are both yet to take a clear cut chance, Jordon Henderson has missed the only one he has had and Paulinho has missed all four clear cut chances presented to him this year.
Box to Box midfielders are some of the most important players for a team and to having a good one is a huge boost for a team. Every teams engine in the midfield is a huge cog for the importance of the team and them playing well can influence a team possibly as much as a big time striker. Aaron Ramsey and Yaya Toure have been the stand out players so far in this category with Ramsey shading it with his five goals and 3 assists after only eight games.