Juan Mata reflects wistfully on Juan Mata's domination of the first half of the season. - Matthew Lewis
Ahead of the start of Chelsea's 20th Premier League match of the 2012-13 season, let us cast a quick glance over a few statistics from the first 19 - i.e. the first half - and the various matches from other competitions that occurred in the meantime as well.
Continuing the series of semi-insightful statistical posts - here are the numbers previously posted for the first quarter review - we'll once again examine Chelsea's scoring and minutes played distribution. One of these days I'll get around to doing some plus-minus as well, but until then, this is it.
As always, if you're looking for stats like shooting, passing, tackling, etc, etc, head on over to WhoScored or EPL Index for all the data that Opta has deemed fit to publicize. You'll find most of the usual suspects - players such as Fernando Torres (shooting & turnovers), Eden Hazard (dribbling & fouls drawn), Juan Mata (chances created & through balls), Cesar Azpilicueta (crossing), David Luiz (interceptions & long balls) - whom you'd expect to be leading the team in their respective categories.
In the 32 non-preseason matches so far this season, 2910 minutes football has been played by Chelsea: 1710 in the Premier League, 540 in the Champions (and coming soon: Europa) League, 660 in various Cups & Crap (emphasis on the latter, right FIFA cup Club World cup cup club Cup?).
By some minor miracle, Fernando Torres is no longer a runaway leader in minutes played. In fact, the man who had played an even 90% of all available minutes in the first quarter of the season is not even the leader at all! That honor now belongs to Branislav Ivanovic, his adequateness at both center and right back anchoring the Chelsea back-line through various injury and suspension crises. Ivanovic also leads the team in Premier League and Champions (and coming soon: Europa) League minutes. Newly minted double pivot virtuoso David Luiz is the team leader in various Cups & Crap minutes.
Following the two defensemen, the attacking trio of Fernando Torres, Eden Hazard, and Juan Mata are all hovering just above or just below 80% of total available minutes played. Ramires, Gary Cahill, John Obi Mikel, and Oscar round out the list of players above the 50% line.
So if you're keeping track, that's a lineup of (Petr Cech) - A.Cole, David Luiz, Cahill, Ivanovic - Mikel, Ramires - Hazard, Mata, Oscar - Torres. Sound familiar?
Marko Marin and Ryan Bertrand have replaced the long-term injury victim Oriol Romeu as leaders in bench-warming minutes. Including all his minutes just staring at others running around, Bertrand is in fact the fifth most active player on the team. Injuries have also played a major role in reducing Frank Lampard to less than 40% and John Terry to less than 30% (lots-of-exclamation-marks!!!!) of total available minutes played. Even with the gift of the FIFA Club World Cup bench minutes, Terry has been less active than Paulo Ferreira. More exclamation marks!!!!. !!!!.
Yes, these are "hockey style" statistics. Yes, there is a primary and a secondary assist (usually). Yes, these are generous. Yes, penalties, corners, free kicks won count. Yes, I assigned/awarded them myself. Yes, the game-changing goals/assists concept is very simple. Yes, none of this is not perfect or in fact nowhere near it. Yes, I believe it's useful.
Yes, Juan Mata rules. Yes, Fernando Torres has SEVEN game-tying or lead-changing goals. Wait, what? Has he actually become not useless?