Last, but by no means least, is my position review for strikers in last season’s premier league. Robin van Persie, rightfully acclaimed for his performances last season (in which he appeared in all 38 of Arsenal’s games, starting 37 of them – and even scored 2 from his solitary subsitute appearance against Stoke) bagged 30 goals in total. But he still didn’t quite manage to top this rating.
Before I discuss the results, I ought to discuss some formalities about the rating I have used. As with most of my previous posts, I reviewed the statistics from players who started in the position of striker: that is, the central player in a 3-man forward line, both players in a ‘flat’ forward 2 or the lone player up front. By looking at player starting statistics only, I am perhaps unfairly judging players who made a habit of having an impact from the bench – in addition, as you will also see later, my goals scored below for RVP is ‘only’ 28 because of this filter.
I then shortlisted the strikers who played greater than 1000mins from the start (34 in total), and added Agüero to make a 35th because according to Opta he mostly played behind the central striker last season and so would not have otherwise qualified. Notable absentees from the list include Defoe, Balotelli and Jelavic – all of whom played over 800mins in games they started but still not enough to make the cut.
I looked at Opta key statistics and reviewed the correlations between these fields and Wins, Draws, Losses – purely for strikers. For the strongest correlating fields I calculated ratios to try and remove some bias towards playing time and team biases eg. the players who played for better teams generally had more shots on target so to dilute this bias I created a shooting accuracy ratio to judge shots on target vs shots off target.
The table of statistics above is ordered by playing time from Papiss Cissé (1037mins) to RVP (3311mins). It is dominated by shooting and goalscoring statistics, with additional credit for chance creation, passing accuracy, dribble success and recoveries. I toyed with the idea of including offside frequency, because it IS quite significant in its relation to wins but I still couldn’t bring myself to add it into my rating. It does however show which players are so keen to break through the last line of defence they fall foul of being offside very often: the top 3 ‘offenders’ were Hernandez, Best and Bent. The players least likely to stray offside were Rooney, Doyle and Torres.
Papiss Demba Cissé was the standout candidate for killer instinct, leading the way in goals per shots on target (0.63), 2nd behind Bent in general shooting accuracy and 4th for shooting accuracy inside the box.
Steve Morison, Yakubu and Rooney scored well in headed goals and accuracy, whilst the best creators of chances were van Persie, Suarez and Zamora.
The best dribble success ratios were held by Klasnic, Carroll and van Persie – whilst Helguson kept it simple all season with 0 dribbles attempted! (I gave him the average success ratio so as not to unfairly disadvantage him).
Terrier-like high recovery rates were found with Welbeck, Rooney and Ngog.
I weighted all of these factors based broadly on contribution to WDL in order to calculate the following final ranking:
*Offsides, on the far right, have not been counted in the total score.
Rooney just about steals the top spot ahead of Agüero, a good 7pts ahead of RVP in a re-jigging of the top goal-scoring charts for the year. Rooney’s statistics are basically a lesson in how to be an excellent all-rounder, and he would be almost 20pts ahead of the competition if it weren’t for the inclusion of the rather dubious ‘touches inside the box’ statistic which disadvantages deeper-lying forwards.
Surprises in the top 10 include Zamora, Holt, Klasnic and Best. Best in particular was probably 3rd or 4th choice striker at Newcastle last season but was never given the faith that his statistics seem to justify.
Andy Carroll and Fernando Torres, part of an £85m transfer merry-go-round in January 2010, are 23rd and 24th respectively and underperformed their collegues Suarez and Drogba.
The only positive in Louis Saha’s stats (35th, last in the list) was his decent passing accuracy. Niklas Bendtner, now at Juventus, who would surely be higher in my rating if I included an ego statistic, only finished 29th.