Friday, July 21, 2017

Ander Herrera - As Good As Busquets?

Right, I want to start this post by saying I am NOT a Manchester United fan. I would also like to add that Ander Herrera boils my piss and that he’s got one of those faces that needs a slap. But I am going to argue that Herrera is as good as (if not better) than Barcelona legend Sergio Busquets.

Some people will be automatically be thinking that there is no proof anywhere to show that Man United’s FA Cup and Europa League winner, Herrera, is as good as the three time Champions League winner Busquets but that is where you are wrong. Statistically Ander was twice the player in certain areas.

It's hard to believe but this guy was better than Busquets last season!
Both players are regarded as holding midfield players so we’ll begin by looking at their defensive stats. Last season Ander Herrera 84 tackles for the Red Devils, 1 more than the Barcelona man who had also played 2 more games. On top of this Busquets made 46 interceptions whilst the former Bilbao man made 81. This would imply that Herrera is twice as good as his counterpart at reading the game.

On top of those defensive stats, Herrera made double the blocks per game (0.2) that Busquets made (0.1) as well as almost four times as many clearances per game (2.1 to Busquets’ 0.6).

Ander Herrera is the kind of player who would kick you in the head and then go
down as if you hurt his foot...
Now I bet some people reading this are thinking “I bet Busquets bring more to the side in attack though” and if you are thinking this then you would be wrong. Last season Herrera scored 1 goal and got 6 assists whilst Sergio scored none and got 3 assists. On top of this Busquets created 13 chances for Barcelona last season whilst United’s Spaniard created 37, almost three times as many…

I think we’ll all agree that if you want to play for Barcelona, you need to be able to pass the ball and keep possession. Barca need players in their midfield who play simple passes, who are accurate with the ball and rarely give it away...surely Busquets will beat Herrera with these stats…

In 31 games, Ander Herrera played 67 passes last season, was dispossessed 19 times and had a pass success percentage of 87.6%.
In 33 games, Sergio busquets played 67 passes last season, was dispossessed 20 times and had a pass success percentage of 89.9%.

I'm not a huge fan of Busquets but he is an exceptional passer of the ball.
Passing stats are almost neck and neck, the Barca man edging it ever so slightly. Surely though when you take everything else into account you have to agree that statistically Herrera has had a better season than Busquets…

...But as I always say, statistics don’t tell the full story. When you look at how the two sides line up you’ll notice that Busquets, although starting in a midfield three, usually drops deep between the two centre backs, almost making a back three which allows the fullbacks to push forward and join in with the attack.

Whilst Ander Herrera plays as an out-and-out holding midfielder, there to win the ball back higher up the pitch, catch the opposition off guard  and is in the thick of it more often in games.There are a lot you don’t get from the stats but one thing I’ve learnt from this post is that I’ve definitely got too much fucking time on my hands.

Here's footage of Herrera winning the ball back higher up the pitch before playing
Rashford in behind against Chelsea last season.
All stats, facts and figures were lovingly given to me by the guys at

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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

How Clinical is Jordan Rhodes?

In my last post I wrote a little about Sheffield Wednesday lacking an out-and-out goalscorer last season, highlighting Jordan Rhodes as one of our strikers who lacked a goalscoring touch last campaign.

Now we all know that Rhodes is a prolific striker at this level, scoring 95 goals in 207 championship games. But his lack of goals towards the back end of last season got me questioning how many goals he will actually bag us, whether he has the qualities needed to take us up and whether or not we even needed to sign him in the first place…

I’ll start by asking how clinical is Rhodes?

How will Jordan Rhodes do next season?
In years gone by he has been a consistent ‘20 goal of season’ striker, scoring over 20 goals in three consecutive seasons for Blackburn Rovers. When you dig a little deeper though you can see that despite this being an impressive record, his chance conversion rate isn’t that great.

In the 13/14 season he finished as the league’s second top goalscorer. He scored 25 goals from 134 chances, giving him a chance conversion percentage of 19% meaning it takes him on average just over 5 chances to score 1 goal. This isn’t a dreadful record but sadly for Rhodes and Wednesday fans this was his most clinical year to date.

Rhodes enjoyed his best Championship years for Blackburn Rovers.
In the 14/15 season he scored 21 goals from 135 chances giving him a chance conversion percentage of just 16%, meaning he needed just over 6 chances to put the ball in the net. Then there is the 15/16 season where he scored 16 goals from 115 chances. This left him with a chance conversion percentage of 14% meaning he needs just over 7 chances before he’s bulging the net...and this isn’t even the worst of it.

Last season he scored 3 goals from 28 chances meaning that he converted 11% of his chances...can a club get promoted with a striker who needs just over 9 chances before he scores a goal? In my opinion…

Brighton and Newcastle were both promoted via the automatic promotion spots last season and both had prolific and clinical strikers. Glenn Murray scored an impressive 23 goals from 108 chances, meaning he finished 21% of all the opportunities he received! Whilst Dwight Gayle finished a whopping 26% of his 90 chances meaning he also finished last season with 23 goals!

If Wednesday want promotion, we need a striker who scores either 1 in 4 chances like Gayle or someone who scores 1 in 5 like Murray...but wait a second, don’t we already have one of those lads at Hillsborough?

Do The Wednesday have this kind of quality up front?
Like I said in my last post, Gary Hooper scored 26% of the chances he got last season, the same amount as Newcastle hitman Dwight Gayle. Sadly though he only got 23 chances compared to Gayle’s 90. Fernando Forestieri got the most goalscoring chances for The Owls with 115.

If Rhodes got 115 chances last season and scored 11% of them then he’d have only scored around 12-13 goals...not particularly impressive. Whereas if Hooper had as many chances as Forestieri and finished 26% of those chances then he’d have scored a jaw-dropping 30-31 goals last campaign! I’m literally dripping like a knackered fridge at that prospect…

Gary Hooper is statistically The Owls best finisher. Does he deserve to start?
For me these stats show that we didn’t really need Jordan Rhodes, as we already had Gary Hooper banging them in. In my opinion Hooper has the goalscoring touch we need to get promoted but with the price tag attached to Rhodes, the Scot is more or less guaranteed a starting spot…

Looks like we’ll be relying on Jordan for goals this year. Fingers crossed he’s at his best.

All stats, facts and figures were lovingly given to me by the guys at

~ If you would like me to write about anything in particular, please feel free to comment below or contact me on social media. Speaking of which if you enjoyed this please follow me on Twitter @ThePenaltyKing1 or like me on Facebook at ~

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Saturday, July 15, 2017

Flight of the Owls VIII

You know, it dawned on me earlier today that I haven’t written a ‘Flight of the Owls’ post in a while. To be fair, not much has happened since we got knocked out of the playoffs by Huddersfield...God it still hurts to even think that let alone type it…

Anyways, today’s post is gonna be more of an update on how The Wednesday are doing, a look back at last season and how those performances will shape us in the coming year. Got it? Good. Now let’s get started.
~ Side note: links to all the previous Flight of the Owl posts will be at the bottom of this post. So if you want to read them before or after this one, then please feel free ~

Another big season up ahead for the Owls
Recently we have been linked with a number of high profile names (an amazing feeling considering I once was excited about us signing Chris Sedgwick and Gary Teale). The likes of Robert Snodgrass and Glenn Whelan are among the names being spouted and would definitely improve our side I’m sure you’ll agree.

Former Owl Glenn Whelan could slot into the holding role of our midfield, allowing Hutch to drop into centre back with Tom Lees whilst Snodgrass would go left wing which in my opinion was a problem position for us last season as Forestieri wasn’t at his best and Reach wasn’t as good creatively as we had hoped.

We’ve signed George Boyd on a free transfer which I think is *sigh* underwhelming (I’ll talk more about that later). We’ve also made Jordan Rhodes a permanent addition to the squad for a club record £11.7 million. The jury is still out on Rhodes as he didn’t impress many fans last season, only managing a poor return of 3 goals in 20 appearances…

He may be free but you can guarantee he'll be getting paid a hefty penny.
Now a couple of Owls have argued that the Scottish international didn’t get enough chances which I do have to agree with. He got on average 1.4 chances per game, arguably not enough for a striker to score on a consistent basis...unless he scores every chance he gets in which case he wouldn’t be playing Championship football. Champions League football maybe but definitely not Championship.

When you dig a little deeper though you can see that Rhodes scored 11% of the chances he got, meaning that he needed on average 10 chances before he could put the ball in the back of the net...definitely not Champions League quality.
~ In the next couple of days I’m going to be writing about Jordan Rhodes in a little more detail. Keep your eyes peeled for it ~

Jordan Rhodes scored only 3 of the 28 chances he got last season.
The Scots 11% chance conversion makes him the 7th best finisher for Wednesday behind Keiran Lee (30% shot conversion), Gary Hooper (26%), Steven Fletcher (15%) and surprisingly Sasso (19%), Fox (20%) and Hutch (15%). Barring Hooper, we don’t actually have a goalscorer on the same level as Glenn Murray or Dwight Gayle.
~ Side note: Lee scores 30% of the chances he gets. That’s nearly 1 goal every 3 chances. Should give him a whack up front haha ~

Honestly though I don’t think we need to worry about our options up front. Fletcher and Hooper are two top quality strikers for this league and I’m confident they can get 30 goals between them IF Hooper stays fit. I feel what we need is a player who can create clear cut chances multiple times per game.

When you look at the stats, Ross Wallace was our most creative player last season, creating 1.7 chances per game on average. Barry Bannan was the second most creative with 1.3 chances per game. Just to put that into perspective, the two promoted teams had Knockaert and Shelvey who both created 2.1 chances per game.

For The Wednesday to achieve promotion, we need creative players of the same level. We need at least one player who on average creates 2 or more chances per game...which is why I was so underwhelmed by George Boyd.

Wallace became a fan favourite towards the back end of last season.
The former Burnley man created 0.4 chances per game for Burnley last season. Admittedly this isn’t a fair comparison as he was performing at a higher level but if I look at Burnley’s promotion season back in 2015/16, I can see that Boyd only created 0.9 chances per game. This is less than half the amount of Knockaert and Shelvey...underwhelming.

For me, the kind of player we are looking for is Tom Lawrence from Leicester. The 23 year old spent last season on loan at Ipswich and became a hit with The Tractor Boys. Used mainly on left wing, the Welsh international scored 11 goals and got 9 assists in 34 games. What impressed me most of all though was the amount of chances he created.

Lawrence created a whopping 82 chances in the 34 games for Ipswich. That breaks down to 2.4 per game, meaning that he was more creative per game than both Shelvey and Knockaert last season. He’s recently had a price tag of £7 million slapped on him which would be a steal in today’s transfer market!

If we bring Lawrence in he could resolve our lack of creativity on left wing and also allow us to move Reach to left back where I’d say he’s at his best. The phrase ‘killing two birds with one stone’ comes to mind.

I genuinely believe we are only one signing away from gaining automatic promotion. I know that seems a little optimistic but I’m just so confident when I look at our squad. I just hope this coming season isn’t a repeat of the last two...I don’t think I can deal with the play off failure again...

All stats, facts and figures were lovingly given to me by the guys at

~ If you would like me to write about anything in particular, please feel free to comment below or contact me on social media. Speaking of which if you enjoyed this please follow me on Twitter @ThePenaltyKing1 or like me on Facebook at ~

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Previous Chapters
Flight of the Owls VII

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Arnautovic to West Ham?

West Ham United had an average season of Premier League football. Not really setting the league alight like they did in the 15/16 season with Dimitri Payet in their team. An 11th place finish meant that they would enjoy another year of Premier League football but had taken a big step back in their hopes of reaching European competitions.

I’m sure Hammers fans would agree that their side were incredibly poor in spells last season, on three separate occasions going entire months without a league win! And I’ll be honest, I’m confused as to why…

Stoke have place a £20 million price tag on Marko Arnautovic's head.
They have some extremely underrated defenders. The likes of Jose Fonte, Ogbonna and Winston Reid are all good defenders. Even James Collins is good cover as a fourth choice centre back...I suppose.
Obiang, Kouyate and Noble are good players at breaking up play in midfield, Angelo Obiang and Cheikhou Kouyate being especially good at reading the game as they both make 2.8 and 2.5 interceptions per game respectively.

In my opinion what they lack is a next level attacking playmaker and a striker who can stick the ball in the back of the net. And it seems that the club think this too as rumours are circulating that West Ham are looking to bring in Marko Arnautovic from Stoke.

Now Marko Arnautovic is an OK player, he’s been impressive for The Potters for a number of years now but in my opinion West Ham should be looking for a next level player. The reason I say this is because the Austrian international just doesn’t make enough of an impact in games.

BOOM! He can definitely produce moments of magic like this but could he do it
for The Irons?
Last season Stoke’s number 10 scored a poor 6 goals from 61 chances. That means that he needed 10 chances to score just 1 goal. On top of that he wasn’t particularly great creatively, creating only 52 chances and gaining 5 assists. Payet had better creative stats last season and he only played til January!

There are many next level midfielders that West Ham can choose from throughout Europe. One they have already missed out on is Pascal Groß who has just signed for Brighton from relegated Ingolstadt. The young German showed amazing quality last season but couldn’t stave off relegation.

Despite his side being relegated from the Bundesliga, Groß created a whopping 99 chances, making him the most creative player in the league ahead of the likes of Ribery (49), Muller (61), Robben (60) and even Emil Forsberg (93) who had the most league assists with 19. Watch this space, he’ll be cracking for Brighton next season and if they get a striker to match his quality Albion could push for mid table!

Groß (left) and Larsson should be the kind of players West Ham look for.
One player The Irons should look towards is Swedish wonderkid Sam Larsson from Eredivisie side Heerenveen. He’s only 24 and managed to create 73 chances last season, getting 12 assists along the way. Heerenveen finished 12th but if not for Larsson’s input, would most likely have been relegated!

Larsson would be a perfect addition but there’s no point creating chances if you haven’t got someone to stick them in the net. Truth be told West Ham do have some lethal goalscorers. Andy Carroll scored 7 goals from 40 chances last season - giving him a chance conversion rate of 18%. In layman’s terms it would take him just over 5 chances to score 1 goal.

Diafra Sakho didn’t get much playing time last season but still managed 1 goal from 4 chances giving him a chance conversion rate of 25% (1 goal every 4 chances). Like I said, these are not dreadful strikers when fit...but of course their fitness is their problem. If the two of them could keep fit for an entire season, I fully believe that they would be prolific but at this moment neither can be relied upon consistently.

If Carroll could keep fit, the stats show he'd score 15-16 goals a season. Is this enough
for The Hammers?
Good alternatives in my opinion would be Bournemouth’s Josh King or Swansea’s Fernando Llorente! Both players were banging them in for fun last year as the Norwegian’s goals pushed Bournemouth to mid table while the Spaniard’s goals helped keep Swansea just clear of relegation. But how would they help West ham?

Well Josh King scored 16 goals from 69 chances last season meaning he scored 23% of the chances put in front of him. Now when you take into account that Andy Carroll got 2.2 chances per game last year and had a chance conversion rate of 18%, we can work out how many goals King would have scored if he played for West Ham.

If King played all 38 games for West Ham and was presented with 2.2 chances per game and scored 23% of those chances he would have finished last season with around 19-20 goals!
~ *eurgh* maths…~

Josh King enjoyed his best season last year, knocking in 19 goals in all competitions.
The same can be worked out for Fernando Llorente who scored 15 goals from 53 chances giving him a chance conversion rate of 28%. If the Swansea hitman played all 38 games for West Ham, got 2.2 chances per game and finished 28% of those chances, he’d have ended last season with around 23-24 goals!

Obviously these are just numbers at the end of the day. Putting them into practise is an entirely different kettle of fish but it is interesting to see how strikers match up with each other. It’s also interesting to see how other players could have affected your team.

Anyways best of luck to West Ham next season. I really hope they do make that next step up the league as I’ve always had a soft spot for them ever since they scored THAT goal to send the pigs down. And because it’s my blog I think I’ll finish with that…

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Saturday, July 8, 2017

Is Lacazette the Answer?

As I’m sure anyone with a social media account now knows, Arsenal have signed forward Alexandre Lacazette for a club record fee of £46.5 million (rising to £52.6 million with add ons). It must be said that it is a great transfer, not just for The Gunners but also the Premier League and in today’s market, should be considered a steal!

Alexandre Lacazette is now Arsenal's record signing.
The new signing scored 28 league goals last season for Lyon, finishing up as the league’s second top goalscorer. He was also included in the Ligue 1 Team of the Year as well as the Europa League Team of the Year.

Yes it was a very impressive season for the French international but I just have one question...what difference will he make at Arsenal?

Last season Lacazette had 84 chances in the league and scored 28 goals. This means that he scores 33% of the chances he’s presented (or 1 in every 3 chances if you prefer). Just to put that into perspective, Harry Kane scores 26% of the chances he gets, meaning he needs 4 chances on average to hit the back of the net.

If this was on Soccer AM it'd have been right in the top bins!
Other examples would be Costa and Alexis Sanchez who both scored 18% of the chances they get (1 goal every 5 chances) whilst Sergio Aguero and Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored only 14% and 15% respectively (roughly 1 goal ever 6 chances).

Not many Premier League strikers came close to Alexandre. The closest striker to Lacazette’s finishing record was fellow Frenchman and Arsenal man Olivier Giroud! Giroud scored 12 goals out of 38 chances giving him a chances scored percentage of 32%.

Statistically Lacazette and Giroud are just as clinical in front of goal as each other.
You could argue that those stats mean nothing but when you think about it Lacazette had over double the chances that Giroud did. So you could say that if you give Giroud and Lacazette the same amount of chances, in theory they should score the same amount of chances. This begs the question though, why didn’t Giroud have as many chances?

Arsenal arguably have better creative players in Ozil and Sanchez, with Lyon relying mainly on Premier League reject Memphis Depay for creative flair. But what Lyon had that Arsenal lacked was a world class holding midfield player...

The North London club for a number of years now have lacked that player who can regain possession quickly, who can win the ball back further up the pitch and keep up the pressure on the opposition. Bruno Genesio had that player in his Olympique Lyonnais side last season. A 28 year old named Maxime Gonalons.

Gonalons cost Roma €5 million. €5 blinking million!
I don’t like throwing this term around lightly but Gonalons last season was world class! In 29 appearances he made 128 tackles and 67 interceptions, meaning he won the ball back on average 6.72 times per game. Since these stats look better with a little perspective, Victor Wanyama made 90 tackles and 40 interceptions giving him an average of 3.61 possession wins per game.

Other examples include Ander Herrera who had an average of 5.32 possession wins per game and N’Golo Kante who had an average of 6 per game. Arsenal’s choices in this role are either Coquelin (4.34 per game) or Xhaka (3.75 per game) who, despite being fan favourites, don’t really live up to other top level defensive midfielders in the division.

If Wenger was going to sign anyone from Lyon it had to be Gonalons. Another Frenchman who has just made a move to Roma for a frankly ridiculous €5 million. €5 fucking million! Victor Wanyama cost £12 million and Gonalons had double the average possession wins. €5 million is a steal!

Did Arsenal ever really replace this legend?
For Arsenal to improve they need to build from the back by bringing in a class defensive midfield player like Gonalons. One that slips under the radar is Oriol Romeu for Southampton. Last season he made 116 tackles and 88 interceptions in 35 games, meaning he won the ball back on average 5.83 times per game. He’s definitely the kind of player that Arsenal need right now, not Lacazette.

Now I don’t want to make out like lacazette will be poor. I actually believe he’ll do very well for Arsenal. All I’m saying is that if this is Arsenal’s only big money buy this transfer window then my money is on another average season for them...

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