James McArthur: A Statistical Analysis of Crystal Palace’s Record Signing


Having been placed at the helm of affairs with less than a week to go before the transfer window closed, Neil Warnock was required to make a very quick assessment of his squad. The Englishman had a busy deadline day as he made 3 crucial signings mere hours before the window shut. These were in the form of James McArthur, Kevin Doyle (on loan) and Zeki Fryers.

The signing of McArthur from Wigan for a fee of 7 million surpassed the previous club record fee of £4.5 million they had paid to get the services of Dwight Gayle in 2013. The Scotland International was set to join Leicester City before the Foxes pulled the plug on the deal and instead signed Cambiasso from Inter Milan. The 26-year-old was part of the Wigan side from 2010 to 2014, plying his trade in the Premier League from 2010 to 2013 and also collecting an FA Cup winner’s medal in the process.


The Central Midfielder made 43 appearances in the Football Championship last season, starting 39 times. On the attacking side, he made 1309 general passes (1102 successful), 153 headed passes (80 successful) and 222 long passes (138 successful). On the overall, he completed 78% of his passes attempted. He made 0.72 key passes every 90 minutes and recorded 3 assists through the season, averaging 0.80 chances created every 90 minutes. The box-to-box midfielder has shown liking to pepper the goal with his long rangers. He registered 42 shots from outside the box as against 17 from inside the box. His goal tally by the end of the season stood at 4 at an overall shooting accuracy of 33%, which is a possible result of his attempts on the goal from a distance.

James McArthur
James McArthur

Though pace isn’t the highlighted attribute of the player in any way, he did manage to get past his opponents more often than not, completing close to 60% of his attempted take-ons. On the whole, the combative midfielder was triumphant in 49% of the duels he entered into.

The midfielder has also been known to make a substantial defensive contribution to his side. He made 3 defensive contributions every 90 minutes, with clearances and interceptions being the primary defensive tools in his armoury. He was pressed into action often and made close to 2 clearances every 90 minutes thwarting the attempts of the opposition. He has been hailed for his ability to read the game and make vital interceptions to break the oppositions play and lived up to the billing, making an impressive 1.65 interceptions every 90 minutes. Though blocks constituted a miniscule 8% of his total defensive contribution, they are an important aspect of his game. Through the last season he made 0.30 blocks every 90 minutes, which is not too bad a figure for a central midfielder.

One of the often highlighted strengths of the midfielder has been his tackling. The Scottish international attempted close to an incredible 4.5 tackles every 90 minutes and came out on top 54% of the times. He was often called into aerial action in the middle of the park and won 43% of his aerial duels, which isn’t entirely a bad number.

He was pretty tidy throughout the season, making just one defensive error which led to an attempt on the goal. Also, despite being involved in a number of duels, the player received just 4 yellow cards and no red cards. He has shown tidiness in his game and this will serve the cause of the club well in the season to come.

On the overall, the player has shown excellent combative skills in the middle of the park, making crucial tackles, vital interceptions and blocks. His ability to tie down the opposition will play a crucial part in the team’s stature come the end of the season. With 4 goals and 3 assists through the last season, his attacking capabilities aren’t null and he will need to maintain his attacking abilities, if not better them. Having been a part of an exciting Wigan Side that was relegated in 2013, he had to wait a year before making a comeback to the Premier League and will be looking to avoid those circumstances yet again.

In Mile Jedinak, the team already has a very good defensive midfielder in its ranks. The Australian impressed one and all with his performances in the middle of the park last season. With McArthur joining him, the Palace side will have two very combative players in the middle of the park. Both the players have experience of playing in a faster, physical Premier League and will be looking to form a vital partnership as soon as possible. They should give each strong competition fighting for Warnock’s attention.

A subject of the record transfer fee, the Scottish international does carry some baggage that he will be looking to quickly offload with his performances. He will be hoping to continue the good run he enjoyed while at Wigan and install himself in the hearts of the Palace faithful.


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