Adam Johnson - The man to relieve the creative stress on Sessegnon?
Alright everyone, here at Roker Report we've quite fancied doing some stats stuff for a while so an early article we did called "By The Numbers" concerning Steven Fletcher (read here) is now set to become a regular feature. I'm not going to guarantee it will be every week, but it will be as often as we can think of stuff to do.
Obviously we can argue the merit of stats in football. They're not a full indicator on what goes on in a game and unlike other sports football a players performance cannot be judged on stats alone. However, on the other hand they are a very good indicator as to what went on in a game. After all, these are recordings of things which actually happened, like it or not.
So for the first (or possibly second) of these we're looking at Adam Johnson. We're all rather excited by him that's for sure, but can he ease the burden on Stephane Sessegnon to be the creative drive in the Sunderland team?
Join us for By The Numbers, we're we'll attempt to answer this...
The disclaimer will come with the amount of games played by both last season. Sessegnon was our most used player last season, starting 36 games for a total of 3133 minutes where as Johnson only managed 10 starts, 16 substitute appearances for a total of 1137 minutes.
So with Sessegnon playing 2.75 times more games, it would be fair that in some instances we look to double Johnson's stats. This would account for a similar number of games played and factor in any potential loss of form or injury quite generously.
Over the course of last season Sessegnon played 872 Accurate Open Play Passes, and Johnson an impressive (given the limited game time) 497. We don't even need to put the disclaimer for anyone to see that had Johnson played a similar number of games he'd have dwarfed Sessegnon's total.
Johnson also managed in his fewer games to come out with a much better Open Play Pass Completion with 88% compared to Sessegnon's 81%.
Johnson also seems to range his passing more. It's a near even split among Pass Direction from the new boy with 27% going forwards, 24% backwards and 49% going sideways.
Sessegnon was more direct where possible with 33% of his passes going forward, 24% backwards and 43% sideways to left or right.
Crossing & Dribbling
It looks as though with both in the team we're going to see plenty of running at defenders, and we're not even factoring in James McClean here and it seems to be the Irishman's favourite sport.
As far as Successful Dribbles go, Johnson managed an initially paltry looking 14 compared to Sessegnon's 65 last season, but to bring in the disclaimer and double up for AJ - getting 28 from 20 starts would be a very decent statistic.
Strangely considering Sessegnon didn't play out wide all that much last season, both he and Johnson ended up with identical crossing statistics - 59 crosses played, 15 of which were accurate.
Obviously we've made a fair bit out of Sess' assists last season considering he lead the team in this area with 9 last season. We also know however that an 'assist' is merely the final pass in a move which lead to a goal and doesn't necessarily tell the full story.
To jump straight to the Total Chances Created - an all inclusive tag for assists, key passes and set pieces etc - we see that Johnson is creating a hell of a lot of them for his limited time on the pitch with 38 last season. In comparison to Sessegnon's 72, this looks quite good, and to double things up for Johnson's time on the pitch he'd actually over take Sess as our leading chance creator.
Last season you'll note that Johnson created a chance on average every 30 minutes where Sessegnon only created every 44 minutes.
Despite only starting 10 games last season, Johnson still managed to score 6 goals, Sessegnon managing only one more in 26 more starts. We're looking at in total last season (based on minutes played) that Johnson's goal record from last season puts him at one every 190 minutes, and Sessegnon one every 448 minutes.
Indeed Johnson is ahead of Sessegnon in a lot of categories when it comes to putting the ball in the net. Johnson's chance conversion comes in at a good 24% compared to Sess' 13%. Johnson's also hitting the target more often with 56% of his shots on target compared to Sess' 40%.
Things look very, VERY good for us over the course of the season. Both have areas in which they can improve - Johnson perhaps in dribbling and Sessegnon in scoring - but in most other areas they seem to be relatively evenly matched.
Perhaps most crucially of all it appears that we've finally found a player to ease the burden on Sessegnon though. Johnson is every bit the creative, driving force that Sessegnon is for us. It's something we suspected before hand, and the numbers back it up.
To have in effect another Sessegnon in the team, McClean, Colback, and on the odd occasion Seb Larsson entering the fold to provide for Fletcher, there's little room for excuse for us not to be putting the ball in the net much more than we did last season.
Stats provided by leading data supplier Opta via EPL Index.