Some teams are fortunate enough to have more than one of these players at their disposal, however if you’re lucky enough to find an effective one then you should cherish him for as long as possible. A world class playmaker in modern day football is priceless. A player that makes your team tick and has the opposition on strings.
How can you judge how influential a playmaker is though? Stats don’t tell the whole story, after all there aren’t any stats that truly show the effectiveness of a playmaker. You can’t judge what a certain player does psychologically to opponents, can you? Looking at goal and assist stats is slightly naive at best as these don’t tell the bigger picture. You also have to consider who these playmakers have around them. The better the players supporting them then the better the numbers will look. It’s not the fault of the player if your club for example sells Luis Suarez and signs Rickie Lambert and then loses Daniel Sturridge to injuries and has a completely different player to feed in Mario Balotelli.
With this in mind I’m going to look at Philippe Coutinho, Christian Eriksen, Eden Hazard, Mesut Ozil and David Silva for the 2014/2015 season and weigh up the influence each of them had on their teams.
The above image is from Squawka. I’ve looked at chances created, key passes, successful passes, successful take ons and tackles won.
My reasoning behind including chances created being included is due to the fact it gives a fairer look at their impact as opposed to assists. Assists is dependent on the player they pass to scoring so this again comes back to the team you play in.
So chances created indicates how effective they are at creating even if the passes don’t end up in a goal. It may come as a surprise to many but Mesut Ozil on average creates the most chances per 90 mins. He may not have played as many games as the rest but in the games he played he was far more influential at creating chances for his teammates as opposed to the rest in this comparison. Lagging behind in 5th is Phil Coutinho who averages 1.87 chances created per 90 mins.
Key passes once again is an alternative look at the influential passes of these players. Once again Mesut Ozil is out ahead of the rest and this follows the chances created table of it going Ozil, Silva, Hazard, Eriksen and Coutinho.
The next stat once again is dependent on team tactics and style. If a team sees more of the ball you’d assume your playmaker would see more of the ball and in theory be able to make more passes in the game. Alternatively you’d want your main playmaker on the ball, so you’d be looking to get the ball for to him as often as possible. So this stat is successful passes per game. This highlights how imperative David Silva is to Man City, averaging over 60 successful passes per game with Mesut Ozil averaging just under 60. Eden Hazard averages just over 50 passes per game whilst Christian Eriksen and Philippe Coutinho are in the 40’s. Interestingly all of these players are in the 80% bracket of successful passes so it indicates in simple terms that Christian Eriksen and Philippe Coutinho see less of the ball than their counterparts being in inferior teams.
Successful take ons is the next stat I looked at. This stat for me indicates how reliant the teams are on this certain individual to make things happen on their own. The more take ons you do the more it means you’re having to be on the ball and not only pick passes but take it beyond players. In this category Eden Hazard is way out ahead which is understandable with him being an inside forward who takes up central roles when cutting inside. The Belgian star averages 4.8 successful take ons per game followed by Philippe Coutinho with 3.51, Mesut Ozil with 2.52, Silva on 1.74 and lastly Eriksen 1.32.
This makes sense with Chelsea often using a counter attacking style and Hazard being the man to lead that charge. What makes even more sense is Coutinho being on 3.51 as at times during the season he was the Liverpool midfield and he was expected to carry the attack. As mentioned earlier with the likes of Balotelli and Lambert ahead of him it’s little wonder he was attempting more take ons when he’s trying to create space to either shoot or pass.
Lastly I’ve looked at tackles won. You may find this an odd stat to look at for a playmaker but I have reasons for this. A playermaker is expected to makee play for the team, this can be done by winning the ball back high up. In the modern day game, these flair playmakers we all want are also expected to have a work rate. Jose sold Juan Mata because he wasn’t good defensively for example and started using Oscar more due to the fact he’s known for his work rate.
So my idea behind including tackles won shows not only are they a playmaker they’re also a team player. You’ve also got to consider the fact if you win tackles as a playmaker you’re usually going to be in the attacking third and this gives your team more of an opportunity to get back on the front foot.
With this in mind the standout player here is Philippe Coutinho with 1.58 and over twice as many as Eden Hazard. Granted Eden Hazard doesn’t have to win as many tackles as he isn’t in a team that presses whereas the other 4 are. So given context the Hazard one can be written off here.
This comparison shows Eden Hazard, David Silva and Mesut Ozil are the elite playmakers in the Premier League. Surrounded by good players these playmakers thrive and better themselves whereas Christian Eriksen and Coutinho have inferior players beside them so struggle to match up. You can’t say one of Hazard, Silva or Ozil are the most influential because they all bring something different but just as effective to a team and they’re suited to their individual teams.