Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Nemanja Matic to Manchester United!

Serbian midfielder Nemanja Matic has made his £40 million move from Premier League champions, Chelsea to Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United. This transfer seems to be another solid signing for The Red Devils as they look to get back to the top of the food chain.

Jose Mourinho has re-signed Nemanja Matic for the second time.
The former Benfica man was a little overlooked in The Blues’ title winning campaign last season due to N’Golo Kante covering 99% of the planet. Matic made on average 1.5 tackles and 1.4 interceptions per game meaning he won the ball back 2.9 times per game last season.

These stats along with Kante’s 6 possession-wins-per-game allowed players like Hazard, Pedro, Moses and Alonso to push on knowing that they were covered at the back. If Matic and Herrera continue last season’s form into this campaign then they will be making on average 8.2 possession wins per game in the centre of the park! A very good return.

Last season Matic and Kante won the ball back on avaerage 8.9 times per game.
I have to say though that £40 million is a little excessive for the 28 year old. He may be in his prime but I feel that there could have been some better alternatives for less money...then again in today’s transfer market there are League One players that could go for £20 million so I suppose £40 million isn’t too bad.

Matic along with a hefty price tag brings some aerial dominance to a rather short United midfield. Over the last couple of years The Old Trafford faithful have had to rely on Marouane Fellaini to win headers in the midfield...I have to say Nemanja is a huge improvement.

Not only is The Serbian as strong as Fellaini in the air but is far superior on the deck. He’s composed on the ball, is a talented passer, has a good touch for a big man and when he hits a ball, it stays hit! A good example of this would be his goal against Tottenham in the FA Cup last season...

Bang! Pick that fucker out!
This seems to me to be an incredibly intelligent signing from Mourinho. Like I said before, partnering Matic and Herrera is like building a brick wall in the centre of the pitch but that’s not all, it also allows Pogba to push further forward.

We’ve all heard Manchester United fans bang on about how statistically Paul Pogba is the best midfielder in the Premier League, how he once killed an endangered leopard with a volley from 60 yard and how he creates more chances than Messi, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Zidane and Jonjo Shelvey combined but he is yet to actually show it in end products.

With only 5 goals and 4 assists last season, Pogba didn’t really live up to his £89 million price tag. This season is make or break for the Frenchman, with more freedom for him to push forward there are no excuses for the former Juventus man not to hit double figures in both goals and assists. His first season has settled him, this season we should be seeing the real Paul Pogba.

I don't mind Pogba...but less of this shit please Paul.
In my opinion though I don’t think Man United are done in this transfer window. If they want to be up there challenging for the title then they need to sign a next level winger/attacking midfielder. Last season Manchester United lacked goalscorers from midfield. Mata, Mikhitarian, Martial, Lingard and Pogba combined scored only 20 goals in the league…

When compared to Hazard, Pedro and Willian who scored 33 goals last season or Alli, Son and Eriksen who scored 40 (double the amount the United boys did) you see that The Red Devils really lacked a goalscorer other than Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Although with Pogba pushing further up the pitch it could possibly create more chances for the midfield. I don’t know. What am I? Mystic Meg?

Man United could potentially be serious contenders in this years Premier League but for me it all depends on whether Paul Pogba steps up and proves why he is the most expensive signing in football history. If not, I think they’ll still get Champions League...but it won’t be impressive.

All stats, facts and figures were lovingly given to me by the guys at www.WhoScored.com.

~ 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 www.Facebook.com/ThePenaltyKing1 ~

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Saturday, July 29, 2017

Ross Barkley and His Boyhood Club

Right, to start today’s post I want to give everyone a little insight into the hell I’ve had to put up with these last couple of days. A spider has been crawling out from under the skirting board of my house and then fucking off back under there whenever I get close to the bastard! I’m getting mugged off by a spider!

Just thought I’d share that with you all...anyways back to the football

There’s been growing speculation over the last couple of months that Ross Barkley will be leaving Everton. The 23 year old was a product of The Toffee’s youth academy and has gone from strength to strength since his Premier League debut back in 2011. Everton boss Ronald Koeman has even come out and said that he “100% expects” the young Evertonian to leave the club.
Should Ross Barkley Leave Everton?
It’s been reported that the star man has rejected a £100,000 a week contract at Everton which begs me to ask the question ‘what the fuck are you playing at Ross?’ It’s your boyhood club! I would take £1,000 a week if I got the opportunity to be a part of Sheffield Wednesday.

Everton are a club that’s currently on the up. They’ve got a top class manager who's building a top class squad that will play in front of a top class support...and Ross Barkley could be the focal point of their journey! He could be Everton’s answer to Steven Gerrard; one of their own who will drag them to success...but instead he’d rather screw over his own club for a bit more money...

Everton have currently priced Barkley up at £50 million. Personally I’d question whether he’s worth it but nowadays the market is so fucked Carlton Cole could break the transfer record at any moment. Some top English clubs are interested like Spurs as a bench warmer and Chelsea to fulfil their “homegrown quota.”
~ Side note: Why would Chelsea sell Chalobah £4.8m and then buy Barkley for £50m? What’s the point in even bringing youth players up at Chelsea?...that’s a post for another day ~
He can produce some moments of pure magic!
A possible replacement for Barkley if he was to go would be Icelandic midfield maestro, Gylfi Sigurdsson. Swansea have also put a £50m price tag on this lads head, most likely to scare off potential buyers...it’s not working. As both lads are priced the same and play similar roles I thought it best to compare the two and see how they fare.
~ Side note: I’ve written a more in depth piece on Sigurdsson and if you would like to read that then feel free to read that here ~

Creatively Ross Barkley created more goalscoring chances last season despite Sigurdsson playing more games. Despite this, the Swansea man has a better chance-to-assist rate as 16% of the chances he creates result in a goal (compared to Barkley’s 10%). This would suggest that either Siggy creates better quality chances that Barkley or that Swansea had better strikers...I’ll let you decide that one.

Gylfi also scored almost double the league goals that Barkley did as well as having a better chance conversion percentage. Sigurdsson scored 8% of the chances he received last season which, admittedly, isn’t a great return but is still better than Barkley who scored 6% of his chances.
The stat's show that Sigurdsson currently has the upper hand on Barkley.
Now to be fair the stats are quite near and with Barkley only being 23, he still has time to step up and possibly overtake his Icelandic counterpart. But from what I’ve seen of the England international he hasn’t really kicked on from that lad who burst onto the scene all those years ago. He has to step up next year whether that be with Everton or whoever else.

Speaking of which I saw an article today saying that Spurs want to sign the England international and convert him into a holding midfielder. Two words: Wont. Work. It’d be like when Man United played Rooney there; Barkley will just play simple crab passes and won’t contribute defensively or offensively. Plus Tottenham have better options there anyway.

My advice to Barkley would be to stay at Everton! Like I said before they are a club on the up. They’re getting huge investment and aren’t just throwing cash at average players. They’re building for the future and Barkley should be fighting tooth and nail to be a part of that future. On his day Ross is good enough to lead out a top European side and that is exactly what Everton are hoping to become. Fingers crossed he sees sense.
I'd give anything to represent my boyhood club...
All stats, facts and figures were lovingly given to me by the guys at www.WhoScored.com.

~ 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 www.Facebook.com/ThePenaltyKing1 ~

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Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Manchester City: Spend Well, Defend Well

I made a claim in my End of Season Ramble that Pep Guardiola had a piss poor season last year for Manchester City and that he would most likely go out and spend £200 million and be hailed as a managerial genius when he wins the league. With less than 3 weeks til the start of the season it would seem my prediction is already coming true…

So far Pep has brought in Bernardo Silva for £42.5 million, Ederson for £34 million (a world record fee for a goalkeeper) and probably most surprisingly Kyle Walker for £45m, Danilo for £26m and Mendy for £49.3m. That’s £120.8 million on fullbacks and a whopping £196.8 million in total on transfers this window.

MCFC now have 3 of the top 5 most expensive defenders in history!
Now unless Guardiola has come up with a revolutionary tactic in which you play two right backs, then at least one of the big money signings isn’t going to be playing. My money would be on Danilo being the man on the bench. I’m imagining he will be used as a backup for both Mendy and Walker until Walker inevitably starts making mistakes. Then Danilo will slot in at right back whilst Walker is sold to Arsenal to replace Bellerin who will have been sold to Barcelona…
~ I would piss myself if that came true now. I wonder what odds I’d get ~

On paper Danilo is a lot better defensively than Walker and Mendy, with the Brazilian full back making more tackles and interceptions than the other signings. He would also most probably suit City’s tactic more, with Danilo staying back and almost making a back three whilst Mendy or Walker push forward and support the attack.

Combined with Otamendi coming off his best season and Vincent Kompany if he stays fit, I think City will have a ridiculously overpowered defence that teams will definitely struggle to break down. For me Stones was not good enough last season, making only 1 tackle per game and 1.4 interceptions per game on average. At 23 I feel this is his last year to push on and fulfill his potential, otherwise he risks being pushed out of the side by the quality City have brought in.

Maybe Stones can learn a thing or two from his Argentine teammate...
I’m confident when I say that City are not done yet in this transfer window as their are still areas that Guardiola needs to improve on and the Spaniard definitely knows it. Creatively City were fine last season which was to be expected from a team that has both Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva in it.
~ De Bruyne created the second most chances last season of any player, beaten only by Tottenham’s Christian Eriksen ~

One of the issues with City last season was that Sergio Aguero had a bit of an off season for City. Despite scoring 20 goals last season he had around 140 chances in total, meaning it took him just over 7 chances just to score one goal last season...not a great return when you consider Olivier Giroud scored 1 goal every 3 chances…

I’m confident it was just an off season for Aguero and that he will be back to his best next season but if rumours are to be believed, Pep Guardiola doesn’t like the Argentine and will be looking to offload him sooner rather than later.

I know 20 goals is a good return but a lot of City fans noticed his dip in form.
The most important position that the City boss needs to fill is the third position of that front three. As I said before De Bruyne and Silva are world class and two of the best creative players in the Premier League but when you have Raheem Sterling completing the trio, leaching off their good play and bringing very little to the side himself then you have a problem.
~ If you want to read more about how bad Sterling is, feel free to read my post about him: Raheem Sterling is an Average Footballer ~

Leroy Sane was a good addition and has come up with some great moments of magic for City last season. But he’s only 21 and can’t be expected to put in world class performances at the highest level week in week out. Pep should maybe look to bring in a strong alternative to play whilst Sane matures. Possibly Boudebouz from Montpellier? The Algerian created more chances per game than De Bruyne last season despite his side finished 15th!

There is no doubt in my mind that Leroy Sane will be twice as good as Sterling.
Now as much as I have ragged on Guardiola over the last year, I have to give him credit this transfer window. He has brought in some much need quality into the team as well as offloading a lot of the dead wood that City have collected over the years.

The likes of Caballero, Nolito and Jesus Navas (Jesus Wept more like) were not good enough to improve the side while the likes of Sagna, Clichy, Zabaleta and Kolarov, although are good players, were getting on a bit and weren’t going to be playing much of a role in the years to come at the Etihad. It’s just intelligent business from Guardiola.

In my personal opinion though I don’t agree with what he has done to Hart this past year and I believe Pep hasn’t given him a fair crack but I’m sure Ederson is a top drawer keeper who will come big for City in the 2017/18 season.
~ I’m Guaranteeing that Hart keeps more clean sheets than Ederson next season...you heard it here first! ~

Joe Hart is still a world class goalkeeper and he will prove it next season!
Despite all his spending though I don’t think City are gonna be ripping the league apart this season. I think they’ll look amazing in patches but in my honest opinion I’ve only ever seen The former Barcelona manager use one style of play throughout his career. Don’t get me wrong, it’s an attractive style of play but you need a backup plan in the Premier League and I just don’t see Guardiola having one…

But what do I know? He’ll probably go on to win the league now just to prove me wrong. The bastard.

All stats, facts and figures were lovingly given to me by the guys at www.WhoScored.com.

~ 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 www.Facebook.com/ThePenaltyKing1 ~

Cheers for reading.

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 www.WhoScored.com.

~ 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 www.Facebook.com/ThePenaltyKing1 ~

Cheers for reading.

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 www.WhoScored.com.

~ 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 www.Facebook.com/ThePenaltyKing1 ~

Cheers for reading.

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 www.WhoScored.com.

~ 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 www.Facebook.com/ThePenaltyKing1 ~

Cheers for reading.

Previous Chapters
Flight of the Owls VII