In this series I aim to cut through all the hype and take a detailed look at what is really happening on the pitch.

I closely analyse the underlying stats of key teams (focusing on the last 6 matches) and discuss their stand out players for performance buzz purposes.

I’ll rotate between the big leagues each week.

To keep it focused I will only discuss key changes that matter on the Index, not general performances of players that readers can get from standard match reports.

Liverpool

Alexander-Arnold’s stats are pretty much as good as they get for a full back. His baseline scores should be consistently good because of his strong possession and distribution.

All he needs is a goal and although they haven’t come for Liverpool, his goal threat is there (4 efforts vs Fulham, 3 vs Cardiff). Class. The much cheaper Robertson keeps pace with his underlying numbers, though. All he really needs is a goal. He has been getting chances recently although not quite as many as TAA, perhaps 1-2 per game.

The centre backs are solid across the board due to excellent distribution, particularly at home. Any are capable of winning, and on a good day they may not even need a goal, but they usually will.

Van Dijk is therefore my pick of the centre backs, with 6 attempts in the last 6 games. If one of these goes in, he’s going to be tough to beat particularly if playing at home.

Fabinho is not a great performance player due to his withdrawn role and limited goal threat. He’s increasingly a fringe player and it’s hard to see a win coming without a big change. Wijnaldum is putting up some very impressive involvement numbers which will give him high baselines. He will likely need to score to win though, and he is withdrawn with limited threat. Just 2 goal attempts in the last 6.

If Shaqiri could hold 90 minutes regularly, we’d have a decent performance player on our hands. Threat, strong. Involvement, good. Rotation, bad.

I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see him pop up with a win if he gets a match winner and plays 80+ minutes, whether he will be able to do it consistently with limited pitch time is another matter.

Firmino’s numbers are really quite inconsistent. In some games he has solid involvement stats, in others they are really poor. He’s also in a real goal drought with just 1 since late September. He has had 5 attempts in the last 6 games, which is below what we might expect.

He could improve if it all clicks together but at the moment I can only see him nicking the odd win at best.

Decent goal threat from Mané. His underlying stats are a bit erratic, just like Firmino’s, but he gets away with it a bit because he has a tendency to be explosive, as he was vs Cardiff.

As long as his goal threat holds up he can be a contender and in the last 6, it’s 1 chance every 40.9 minutes. That’s not bad.

Early season jitters for Salah are settling and he is amongst the goals again. So why isn’t he making a bigger impression on the performance scoring? Because most of the time, his involvement is fairly low and he is going to need those 2 goal days to put up some serious scores.

This has been consistent since performance scoring began, even when at his best. We have to accept that despite all his genius, he is not a great performance player. He needs a lot of help from media dividends to start to justify the price.

Chelsea

An embarrassment of riches across the whole team. Sarri-ball. It’s a thing.

Anyone occupying any defensive position (whether first team or second string) should be posting consistently excellent baselines. They could even win without a goal on a soft day. Sarri likes to keep a fixed defence in the EPL, with Alonso, Luiz, Rudiger and Azpilicueta all playing every minute of the last 6 and looking the main men. However, he has rotated heavily in European competition and cups so far. With a goal, any of them should be extremely tough to beat. Luiz is looking the most likely with 6 attempts in the last 4 EPL games. But Alonso is not far behind with 4. You can’t rule out Rudiger either, with 2. Azpilicueta has only had 1, however.

Kanté is capable of the occasional big score but I cannot see him as a regular winner. His goal threat is still too low. His baseline is good enough for him to win if he does score, though.

Jorginho is a frickin’ metronome. He should be one of the highest baseline mids around. Unfortunately, he has clear instructions to not stray into the final third and his goal threat is very weak.

He is one of the rare players capable of winning without a goal, but he will likely need other mids to not turn up. Barkley looks a superb performance player and his only real issue is rotation. His involvement is great and whilst he starts fairly deep, he is coming forward to get plenty of shots away.

Same goes for Loftus-Cheek, I see him as a very strong performance player but it’s extremely hard for him to get pitch time. If he has to step down to a lesser club to get it that would hurt his chances. Willian has no such trouble though and his underlying stats are solid. The lack of goals is holding him back, though.

Whilst he doesn’t have a huge reputation as a goal scorer, he has been getting chances and his threat at the moment is decent.

He had 5 shots against both Burnley and BATE in the Europa. If he could just be more clinical. A little blip by Hazard’s high standards partially due to limited minutes. He’s not been scoring but he’s had some chances. Not his best month but he’s quality and there is no reason in the stats to believe he won’t bounce back before long. Morata has been nothing short of dangerous in the last six or so games. His goal threat is superb and he has been taking his chances.

He still isn’t great for performance purposes because his low involvement means he’s going to need two goals to post a big score, usually. But, he has the threat to do that occasionally if keeps this up.

Coming soon: EPL Best of the Rest

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FIT

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