So, the last ball has been kicked in the 2012/13 season. It’s been a long slog with ace goals, great games and plenty of missed chances with the occasional defensive calamity. Pour yourself a large mug of coffee (twix optional) and prepare for a lengthy A-Z breakdown of the highs and lows of the last 9 months for the toffeemen…
A – Aerials
In total we contested 1351 aerial duels, winning 707 equating to a success rate of 52% which is up on last season’s figure of 48%. This equates to 18.6 aerials won per game, ranking us 4th in the top flight. In terms of attempts on goal from aerials, we conceded 68 compared to 74 last season and had 111 attempts from headers – the most in the league. Unsurprisingly, Fellaini was our main ball winner in the air with 151 aerials won – a 59% win rate – ranking him 5th in the division behind Carroll, Benteke, Fletcher and Crouch. The poorest statistically in the air was Kevin Mirallas who recorded just a 17% success rate. We have conceded the second most headed goals (15) behind Wigan (16) and scored the second most headed goals (13) behind Chelsea (16)
B – Back Four
Generally the defensive operation started badly with just one clean sheet prior to Christmas. We conceded 11.9 Shots per game which is slightly less than last season’s figure of 12.5 shots per game. This represents a steady improvement on the 10/11 figure of 13.3 per game. In total we kept 11 clean sheets which is just short of last season’s haul of 12. Our best clean sheet haul under Moyes was the 2008/9 total of 17.
In terms of the type of chances conceded, the figure for chances conceded in the box went down from last season’s 267 to 248 whilst the amount of crosses conceded went up slightly from 772 to 784. The amount of ‘big’ chances conceded per game went up considerably from 40 last season to 70 this.
C- Chance Conversion
We generally created more in the first third of the campaign; in the first 12 games we created 10+ chances in each game, whilst for the following 26 games we did so in less than 50% of matches.
In total we created 480 chances, ranking us 4th in the top flight and ahead of Arsenal and Manchester United. This is a significant improvement on last season’s figure of 378.
The most creative player was Baines who fashioned 116 of these openings – the most in the top flight and the most in Europe’s top leagues.
D – Dribbles
Our most frequent dribbler was Kevin Mirallas who beat his opponent 1.4 times per game (37 in total) ranking him the 18th most frequent dribbler in the top flight. Last season our most frequent dribbler was Baines with 28. Leon Osman was our most dribbled past player (58) and the second most in the top flight behind Cazorla (63). Our team’s successful dribbles went up to 201, well up on last season’s figure of 170 although both were eclipsed by the 10/11 figure of 266.
E – Errors leading to goals
As a team we made 26 individual errors with 7 of these leading directly to a goal, ranking us the fourth least clumsy side in the division with only Chelsea (3) and West Ham / WBA (both 4) making fewer. Last season we made 13 errors, five of which led to a goal.
F – Free kicks /Set Pieces
Goals from set pieces account for 25% of those scored in the English top flight. We conceded 121 attempts from set plays with 8 leading to goals. This is down on last season when we conceded 141 attempts from set pieces. We created 180 scoring chances from set plays – the most in the division – but had a relatively poor conversion rate with just 13 goals scored – ranking us joint seventh in the division.
G – Goals scored
We scored 55 Goals this season which is up on the 11/12 figure of 50 but still below our best figure under Moyes of 60 from the 2009/10 campaign.
On average it has taken us 11 shots to score a goal, the 4th worst ratio in the league. This season we hit 16.7 shots per game which is well up on the 11/12 figure of 13.7 shots per game. We hit the woodwork 16 times in total, the joint most along with Manchester Utd. The below table shows our 4 year trend for goals output
H – Home Record
A key factor in us being towards the top end of the table was our consistently excellent home form with just 1 loss all season – against clown kecks Benitez. This was the lowest loss rate in the league with the 42 points gathered from our home games ranking us third behind the Manchester clubs in terms of points gained. This is our best home record (in terms of games lost) since the championship winning years of 69/70 & 86/87 when we also lost just once. The home form was particularly vital given that our win record on the road under Moyes has year on year fallen after the turn of the year – this was again the case this season as we won just 1 game on the road since Christmas (the same figure as last season) crucially failing to score in 5 of our last 8 on the road.
I – Interceptions / Regaining Possession
In total we regained possession via tackles and interceptions 1312 times which is up on last season’s figure of 1241 despite us being on the ball more this season. The most interceptions in a game was 26 vs Man City and the fewest against Stoke (7).
J – Jelavic Decline
The decline of last season’s chief marksman has been one of the most discussed subjects of the season. The below table shows his match data from last season and this. The data shows us that 1) he has as many shots per game and 2) he did as much graft outside the box as he did last season, and actually spent more time on the ball in the opposition penalty box – and less time ‘working the channels’ outside the box – this season than last.
For me the issue is more about confidence. It’s also worth noting that in the last 10 games he started up front without Fellaini this season he has also failed to find the target, so the argument it’s the role of the Belgian is flawed for me.
Tim Howard had a below par start to the season, but finished it on the front foot with 7 clean sheet from his last 10 games. Howard made 4 errors that led to a goal, compared to last season’s figure of 2. In terms of distribution, Howard’s short pass completion hit 56.5%, up on last season’s figure of 50.2%. His often derided long kicking also went up to 43%, a tangible improvement on last season’s 35%.
L – Long passes
Our % of total passes hit long was 14%, the lowest in 4 seasons. Our most frequent long passer was Phil Jagielka, who hit 6.3 accurate long passes per game with a 58% accuracy – the same accuracy figure as last season and the best figures for a centre back in the top flight. Jags also recorded the longest distance average pass at 27 metres. Leon Osman had the best accuracy from long balls at 80% completion, the main receiver being Baines.
Our highest percentage of long passes in a game was the home game vs Norwich while the shortest % of long passes per game was against Liverpool at home – a game we were ironically derided for long ball tactics.
M – Most fouls for and against
Steven Pienaar was our most fouled player, winning 2.5 free kicks per game – the most in the division. Fellaini committed the most indiscretions (2.6 per game) and 80 in total. As a team we are ranked 8th for fouls committed (446) and 1st for fouls suffered 1 (498). Leon Oman picked up the most yellow cards (9). Marouanne Fellaini was suspended for the most games (6) due to his various indiscretions.
N – New right side
One of the big pluses this season has been the emergence of a more vibrant right sided alternative to the much heralded left flank. It was much needed given that sides have tended to overload down our left to negate space and were happy for us to have space down the right (Man United away being the prime example). Coleman’s chance to assist efficiency has ramped up post Xmas and the marauder has more assists from open post than Baines. Only Wigan’s Beausejour (7) at Wigan claimed more assists from a full back position than Coleman’s 5.
O – Offside, High Line & Counter Attack
A feature of our play has been a territorial game plan manifested by a high defensive line meaning we spend a higher percentage of time ( 32%) in the opposition half than anyone in the league. The Blues got caught offside 2.6 times per game, ranking us 3rd in the top flight, albeit less than the 3.1 from 11/12. Jelavic was unsurprisingly caught offside more per game than anyone else (1.3) ranking him 2nd in the top flight behind Christain Benteke (1.5). Offensively our goals output from counter attacks has gone up this season to 4 from the 1 last season with the notable effort Kevin Mirallas wonder goal that seen off slazenger deodorant scruffs Stoke.
Our ability to quickly get in shape when possession is lost has long been a feature of our defensive play and why we have allowed our opponents the fewest attempts (5) from counter attacks in the Premier League this season.
P – Possession
Our share of possession was a healthy 52.9% which is considerably up on last season’s figure of 47% indicating a more progressive, less reactive approach. In total we lost possession 448 times which is an improvement on 487 times last season. In terms of the danger areas, we had 1196 touches in the opposition 18 yard box, well up on last season’s figure of 870, and more than Chelsea, Man United & Spurs. The joint highest percentage share in a single game was the 61% vs Allardyce and his protein fuelled gang of mutants at Goodison, whilst the lowest share was the 40% against Man Utd on the opening night of the season.
Q – Quality on the ball
Our pass completion figure was 79.5% ranking us 11th in the league for pass accuracy. This is marginally up on last year’s figure of 77.3%. The most accurate passing display of the season was the 87% completion against Southampton at Goodison with the lowest figure recorded the 68% at Spurs.
R – Resilience
We have generally been good at retrieving points after falling behind in games. In total we have taken 21 points from such situations, ranking us third to Spurs (23) and the champions (29) in terms of resilience. This is compared to the 11 points we retrieved from losing situations last season.
S – Substitutions
Making changes has been a major issue all season and in total we have made the fewest substitutions in the league. A total of 3 of our 55 goals have come from subs which is consistent with the league average of 5%.In terms of substitute goals that have actually impacted outcomes of games, Anichebe home and away vs Newcastle (3 point impact) is our limit. This is down on the impact of 8 last season. Man City lead the way with 15 points ‘impacted’ via sub goals, that’s a 12 point swing on our figure, which is roughly the difference between ourselves and champions league football. Our average substitution time was 71 minutes. The most subbed player was Mirallas, who got the hook in 18 of his 23 starts. A study from ‘Soccer by the numbers’ showed that making subs at 58, 73 & 79 mins improved a team’s match position 40% of the time. Sadly, we just didn’t have enough game changing options from the bench to get the edge in tight games.
T – The left flank
Whether it be via the overlap or underlap, the Baines/Pienaar axis has again been massively influential with us attacking 42% down the left – the joint most in the top flight with Wigan. The lateral schemers have created 41% of our scoring chances and also contributed the same figure of assists/goals in relation to our overall goals output. Unsurprisingly, Baines to Pienaar was the most frequent passing combination and most for a single game (31) v Wigan away. Going the other way, opposition sides have targeted their adventure which has led to us conceding more crosses from the left side than the right side.
U – Utilisation
We have used the fewest players in the top flight (23) with consistency in selection one of our biggest strengths and weaknesses.
V – vs The Top Sides
Moyes record against the top sides historically is poor, however this year that has not been the case. Against the top 5 clubs we’ve picked up 13 points, with other sides only taking 14 points from us. Last season we took just 9 and conceded 21. If anything it was our record against the crud teams that cost us; whereas Arsenal took 32 points from the bottom six clubs, we accrued just 21, roughly the points difference Arsenal finished above us.
W – Win % With and Without
The following table shows the win rate in games a player has /hasn’t started or played a minimum of 60 minutes;
The Blues have been a bookies dream this season – we are the kings of the x on the coupon with the abundance of draws – 15 in total – costing us in the final standings. No side in the top flight of England, Spain, Italy or Germany could muster more deadlocks than us.
Y – Year on Year comparison
Our 63 points total was our joint second highest of the Moyes era and comfortably up on our figure last season of 56. The best tally of the Moyes era was 65 points in 2007/8. In terms of shortfall in points to 4th place, the 10 points we came up short this season makes it the closest we have come to getting 4th since 2009/10 when 61 points got us 9 points off 4th spot. Since 2002 under Moyes our average position has been 7th, compared to the ten year average position of 14th which preceded his tenure.
Z – Zenith Moment & Conclusion
In the end we just came up short with the form of Chelsea, Arsenal & Spurs too consistent and also setting a new points record high for champions league qualification in fourth spot. There has been plenty of highs with the best one a tough call. The Manchester Utd win on the opening day was superb, as was Jelavic last gasp winner against Spurs. On the road there wasn’t as much to write home about although the performances against Swansea and Fulham were superb. The atmosphere against West ham on the final day of the season was probably as good as it’s been since Fiorentina.
For me, the win against Man City at Goodison just edges them all in terms of ace factor and fist pumping pandemonium. It was also probably due to the fact the season’s nadir was reached 7 days prior in the shambles against Wigan.
That’s about your lot I’m afraid. Hopefully it hasn’t been too painful to read and apologies if I missed anything out.
Thanks for reading.