Premier League Round 22

23 Jan

Today’s games not only had a big impact on the Premier League table, but also on the Average Opposition Index. The last update we saw showed us that Mario Balotelli was the best big game player with an average opponent per goal of 6.50, and along with Robin van Persie and Clint Dempsey, has done it most against Top 6 Opposition.

Balotelli kept up his big game record, but should he have been on the pitch?

Well after the second half classic in the Man City vs Spurs game, Balotelli has done it again – his goal against 3rd placed Spurs not only opened up an 8 point gap over their title rivals, but also increased his AOI from 6.50 to 6.11. Spurs can feel rightly aggrieved that they lost this one. Not only did Defoe’s Gazza impression prevent them from going 3-2 up in the last minute, the winner for City was scored by a man who should have been sent off earlier, after a stamp on Scott Parker. Nonetheless, this site is about tracking who the big game players are. I jokingly sent a message to a Spurs supporting friend that they should be wary of Big Game Mario – and I now wish I’d put a bet on it. Stats are often criticised for not showing the full picture, but in this case, Balotelli’s big game performances have become a trend. Sure it was penalty, but he won it, and had a pretty good chance of scoring had Ledley King not fouled him.

In the other big game of the day, Man Utd continued their hoodoo over Arsenal, and in doing so also kept the pressure up on Man City. For Arsenal it was once again their main man Robin van Persie who scored their goal. On this occasion it was an equaliser, though ultimately didn’t lead to any points. Nonetheless, he’s now joint top of goals vs Top 6 opposition, with his 5th goal against the Premier League’s best. This also helped his AOI ranking to 10.37 – above the magical 10.5 mark.

Jermain Defoe and Gareth Bale also scored in today’s big game, and in doing so have bettered their averages to 8.88 and 10.43 respectively. Defoe can now rightly be regarded as a big game player – he has 4 goals against Top 6 opponents, despite limited game time due to Adebayor’s lone/loan striker role.

Aside from the two showcase games on Sunday, there’s also been some other movement on the list in recent weeks. Wolves and Scotland striker Steve Fletcher continued his impressive goal scoring record with another against Top 6 opponents – this time away at Spurs (Round 21). Add to this the goals at away at Arsenal, away at United and away at Liverpool, and there’s once again a trend here. Fletcher is a big game player. Take into account his team ranking, and it’s an even more impressive season (AOI 9.89).

So the big game player continues to be Balotelli, but what of the flat track bully? That title is now held by his City team mate Edin Dzeko. He started the game today but did very little. Against Wigan (20th) last time out though, he scored the winner. That was a very important a strike as it was worth 3 points, but it’s lowered his AOI to 13.91 – saving the blushes of midfielders Lampard (13.56) and van der Vaart (13.86). Lampard’s goal against 10th ranked Sunderland won the 3 points and also improved his average.

The AOI leader from midfield

The other big winner in the list is Fulham’s Clint Dempsey who is now matching Lampard as the top scoring midfielder after his hat trick against 6th placed Newcastle. His average has now shot up to 9.33 and as mentioned above, he’s also sharing the top spot for goals versus Top 6 Opponents. Well played Clint. Apparently he’s also now the top scoring American in Premier League history, ahead of Brian McBride, and John Harkes….probably.

And so to close off this week’s update, a quick look at the points as goals table:

As per the last time out, RVP is the main man for points, whilst Yakubu is the most important to his team. That being said, Blackburn’s unlikely revival under managerial genius Steve Kean (I doubt he would have put on Arshavin for the Ox), has continued afoot without the suspended Yak. After his sending off last week, they went on to beat Fulham 3-1, and followed up with a well earned 1-1 draw at Everton. As a result, whilst he is still the leader on the importance measure, it’s fallen from over 75% to 61%. Surprisingly, Mario Balotelli’s winner today was his first goal that was decisive in terms of points this season.

Rest of the leagues to be updated this week, and I hope to have the Henry vs van Nistelrooy Player Comparison up within the next week.




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