During the last game of pre-season I led discussion about John Obi Mikel and his suitability for Chelsea. I have to say, that Mikel was actually pretty good in last weeks and DM doesn't bother me that much (with one again very promising Oriol Romeu), but I am not convinced about his passing as yet. Also I promise to compile video of some of his main concerning issues, but it just isn't my role. So I decided to break down his and his two team-mates (Ramires, Frank Lampard) passing and compare it to other Premier League central midfielders. Hence this article consist of five interesting aspect, which I found very useful for CM. It's based on squawka.com data.
1. Small correction in calculation
2. Rounded to decimal number for more accuracy
3. Add Mata, Hazard and Oscar for illustration
I will compare Chelsea central midfielders (John Obi Mikel, Ramires and Frank Lampard) with another 13 Premier League CMs (Steven Gerrard, Yohan Cabaye, Vassiriki Abou Diaby, Aaron Ramsey, Mikel Arteta, Leon Osman, Marouane Fellaini, Mousa Dembélé, Joe Allen, Yaya Touré, Paul Scholes, Michael Carrick, Cheik Tioté, Sandro). It's based on data from all Premier League matches played till (2nd October), except with Ramires (only Stoke City and Arsenal games are taken into account).
All results are convert to `per 90 minutes` number. It means, if player played 45 minutes and made 20 passes, that we presume, that he would make 40 passes per 90 minutes. Only completed passes are taken into account (except of last point 5).
I've always found important if player could move the game into uncover touchline and encourage defender or winger with at least little bit of a forward ball.
Definition: Let's say, that pass fulfills this condition if it moves the game at least 5 meters forward (from passer), receiving player is situated at most 10 meters from touchline (right or left) and horizontal (from touchline to touchline) length of the pass is 20 or more meters.
|Player Name||Passes to touchline||Total passes||Percent of passes to touchline|
|Vassiriki Abou Diaby||2.4||75||3.2|
|John Obi Mikel||1.6||61.8||2.6|
Well, there was analysis breaking down where John Obi Mikel aims his passes (forward, backward or sideways). Let's take it more seriously and have a look at proper forward passes, which could possibly influence game. It means to exclude some short forward passes which only move the ball towards more creative attacking player (like Mata, who likes to come deep to collect ball, etc.).
Definition: For simplicity let's say, there are two types of forward passes - from own half and from attacking half. The first is little bit easier, so let's count only passes with vertical (from goal to goal) length of 20 and more meters. For second type, 10 meters is enough to take into account.
|Player Name||Forward passes||Forward passes from attacking half||Forward passes from own half||Total passes||Percent of forward passes|
|John Obi Mikel||6.4||5.3||1.1||61.8||10.3|
|Vassiriki Abou Diaby||5.9||5.1||0.8||75||7.9|
These results are subset of type n. 2, but I wanted to highlight them separately, since it's more relative to both double-pivot and deep-laying playmaker roles. Definition is really easy, since this pass has to end in attacking third of the pitch and vertical (from goal to goal) length has to be at least 20 meters.
|Player name||Forward passes into attacking 1/3||Total passes||Percent of forward passes into attacking 1/3|
|Vassiriki Abou Diaby||2.1||75||2.9|
|John Obi Mikel||0.7||61.8||1.1|
It's specific discipline, when central midfielder plays ball horizontally (from touchline to touchline) for at least 34 meters (that's half a pitch).
|Player name||Cross-field passes||Total passes||Percent of cross-field passes|
|John Obi Mikel||0.4||61.8||0.6|
|Vassiriki Abou Diaby||0||75||0|
All provided completion ratio statistics can't be taken too seriously, since really different kind of passes are included. Let's take a look into something, what should be more relevant to central midfielders, since misplaced short pass inside own half is something different to misplaced long ball or even cross.
Let's compare three completion ratios:
1st short passes (20 meters or shorter), when receiver stands inside defensive third (could be backpass or pass inside own 1/3)
2nd short passes (20 meters or shorter), when receiver stands inside own half
3rd short passes (20 meters or shorter), when receiver stands inside own 2/3 of the pitch
|Player name||Completed short passes inside own 1/3||Total short passes on 2/3||Completion ratio|
|Vassiriki Abou Diaby||3.8||4||93.3|
|John Obi Mikel||8||8.9||90|
|Player name||Completed short passes on own half||Total short passes on own half||Completion ratio|
|John Obi Mikel||22.2||24.1||91.9|
|Vassiriki Abou Diaby||15||17.5||86.2|
|Player name||Completed short passes on 2/3||Total short passes on 2/3||Completion ratio|
|John Obi Mikel||35.3||38.2||92.6|
|Vassiriki Abou Diaby||36.5||40.3||90.7|
Well, it's up to everyone to make conclusion. If you happen to have relative aspect, which could be easily broken down, I am happy to extend these article.