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Statistical Showdown: Top 5 playmakers in the EPL season so far

Hardik Vyas
Top 5 / Top 10
4.82K   //    19 Nov 2012, 19:07 IST

Forget about the blatant comparative player countdowns that give you nothing more than obvious names and a reason to argue a whole lot on their credentials. With the first quarter of the league done and dusted, let’s analyze, compare and evaluate the performances by the five best playmakers in EPL – purely on the basis of statistics and the sheer impact on their sides.

5. Wayne Rooney (Manchester United)

Facts that matter

Games started – 6
Passing Accuracy – 85.6%
Goals – 2
Assist – 5
Total Chances Created – 11
Accurate Final 3rd Passes – 106
Total Final 3rd Passes – 143
Final 3rd Pass Completion percentage – 74%
Accurate Attacking Zone Passes – 215
Total Attacking Zone Passes – 287
Attacking Zone Pass Completion percentage – 75%

Rooney’s brilliant show against Stoke. Source:

How important has he been to Manchester United?

Despite his early season fitness issues, when he returned to the side in the second half, on an evening when Tottenham were ruling the roost, Wayne Rooney did what he does best – dictating attacking intent from his side. Wayne Rooney has largely been deployed as a hovering figure behind the striker, one that could retain and manipulate possession in the most efficient manner. The Englishman hasn’t been a goalscorer in the first quartet of the season but has enjoyed playing second fiddle to an in-form van Persie and a potent poacher in the form of Javier Hernanadez. Rooney has been the only link that connects United’s fluent midfield possession to the attacking front and the current setup leaves a gaping hole in the centre without him in the side. His form will be decisive to fulfill his manager’s claim that his side will reach the 100-goal mark at the end of the season.

4. Marouane Fellaini (Everton)

Facts that matter

Games Played – 10
Passing Accuracy – 78%
Goals – 6
Assist – 3
Total Chances Created – 18
Accurate Final 3rd Passes – 178
Total Final 3rd Passes – 244
Final 3rd Pass Completion percentage – 73%
Accurate Attacking Zone Passes – 318
Total Attacking Zone Passes – 422
Attacking Zone Pass Completion – 75%

Fellani’s impressive work against Fulham. Source:

How important has he been to Everton?

David Moyes has always had a lot of expectations from his club’s record signing. Yet, the Belgium never played to his full potential in the deeper midfield role until last season. It was Moyes’ decision to construct a gameplan around the Belgian that has been reaping benefits this season, as Fellaini has been instrumental in almost everything Everton has devised in the attacking third this season. The opportunities created on the back of some physical play around the Beligian has attracted plaudits from across Europe, considering Everton until now has created most goalscoring opportunities credited to their name when compared to the top-5 European Leagues teams. Fellaini has been a nightmare for the defenders right from the first game where he scored a winner against Manchester United. And more recently, Fellaini has also shown a piece of his evolving range as a playmaker, exchanging intricate passes with the forwards, chances which were increasingly vital in a recent win over Sunderland.

3. Eden Hazard (Chelsea)

Facts that matter

Games Started – 12
Passing Accuracy – 80%
Goals – 3
Assists – 5
Total Chances Created – 27
Accurate Final 3rd Passes – 279
Total Final 3rd Passes – 345
Final 3rd Pass Completion percentage – 81%
Accurate Attacking Zone Passes – 420
Total Attacking Zone Passes – 543
Attacking Zone Pass Completion percentage – 77%

Hazard’s domination against Norwich. Source:

How important has he been to Chelsea?

Eden Hazard was welcomed to the league this season with high expectations, to deliver the much needed ammo to raise Chelsea’s claim to regain the league title. He took little time to prove his worth as he rallied in back to back scintillating performances, as the Blues went on a promising early-season run. Hazard formed a lethal playmaking trio with Juan Mata and Oscar to become one of the headline acts of the first quartet of the season and Di Matteo could only hope more of the same from this sensational talent. Though his team’s defensive frailties have been exposed more frequently in the past few games, the goals have been coming for the side, thanks to Hazard’s sheer quality that has the ability to make an impression on the game even on one of his below par days on the pitch.

2. Santiago Cazorla (Arsenal)

Facts that matter

Games Played – 12
Passing Accuracy – 89.7%
Goals – 4
Assists – 3
Total Chances Created – 38
Total Final 3rd Passes – 388
Accurate Final 3rd Passes – 326
Final 3rd Pass Completion percentage – 84%
Total Attacking Zone Passes – 713
Accurate Attacking Zone Passes – 579
Attacking Zone Pass Completion percentage – 81%

Cazorla’s wonderful display against West Ham. Source:

How important has he been to Arsenal?

One might not be able to figure out what the reasons could be behind the recent run of underwhelming results for the Gunners, but when it comes to crediting about all the good things the North London side has displayed this season, thank the influential Santiago Cazorla. The Spaniard has been a revelation for Arsene Wenger’s side that has been to the fore every single time the side has been in need for goals. If you’d say Arsenal haven’t had enough goals to show this season, then it has been purely down to the lacklustre efforts from the strikers. Cazorla has been the creator of 38 clear-cut chances for the side, the highest by any player in the league. If only Wenger could include Walcott as a focal attacking presence in his side or the likes of Giroud could finally initiate a consistent run of form, we may well see Cazorla getting his due share of plaudits this season.

1. Juan Mata (Chelsea)

Facts that matter

Games started – 9
Passing Accuracy – 88.7%
Goals – 4
Assists – 6
Total Chances Created – 26
Total Final 3rd Passes – 266
Accurate Final 3rd Passes – 216
Final 3rd Pass Completion percentage – 81%
Accurate Attacking Zone Passes – 361
Total Attacking Zone Passes – 462
Attacking Zone Pass Completion percentage – 78%

Mata’s sparkling display against Spurs. Source:

How important has he been to Chelsea?

Juan Mata, in his first year with the Chelsea unit, enjoyed a consistent spell on the wings before he was shifted to a more central role under the management of Di Matteo. There were increasing worries across the Chelsea contingent that Mata may suffer a burnout after an exhausting summer with his national side, but Mata brushed them all off with a series of sparkling displays. His best moments for the Blues came in the second half of a key fixture at the Lane, when the Spaniard single-handedly dismantled the defensive shield of the Spurs side. It’s the excellence of the playmaking triplet of the Blues that has for long spells, eliminated the need for an in-form striker and Juan Mata has been at the heart of all the major attacking developments for most of this season.

Special Mention

Dimitar Berbatov has been another playmaking prowess that has been a key for his side’s above average showings in the league this season. Martin Jol’s decision to let Berbatov roam on the field has been paying dividends for his side that has been plundering goals on a more consistent basis this season. Berbatov has been seen linking up play with Rodallega, Sidwell and Ruiz all over the field, finding his teammates with almost 80% of his final third passing. With a direct intervention in 8 of his side’s 25 league goals this season and another 11 clear-cut chances to go with, Berbatov looks to be enjoying his first few outings with his new side.

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