Statistics often make or break many a football argument. Whether they are used to highlight a players strengths or weaknesses or ridiculed for perhaps exaggerating someone’s ability, they are part and parcel of both the professional game and discussions that take place on forums and in pubs up and down the country.
The stats, as they say, do not lie and while they do not give the whole picture they can be a good indicator of how a player has performed. WhoScored.com has compiled a list of the statistical leaders from the weekend’s games in Europe’s top five leagues with Premier League players topping three of the categories.
Robin Van Persie lead the charts for the most shots at the weekend. The Manchester United striker registered 11 efforts on his way to bagging himself a hat trick in the 3-2 win over Southampton. Of the stats listed, this is perhaps the least conclusive because as people will appreciate, having the highest number of shots does not necessarily mean you are the most prolific.
But RVP is not any old striker and the fact he is getting such a high number of chances is only good thing. Against the Saints he was at his imperious best and should have scored four if not for a woeful penalty. Should he continue to get the opportunities -which are testament to United’s midfield- he is guaranteed to score the goals which understandably are crucial to his side’s success this season.
Premier League new boy Jan Vertonghen displayed his aerial prowess, winning 11 out of 12 battles when competing for headers to top the European stats. It’s an impressive feat, particularly as he came up against Grant Holt and Steve Morison in Norwich’s attack, both of whom carry a considerable aerial threat. It was not enough to give Spurs all three points against the Canaries but it’s an encouraging statistic for Tottenham fans.
There is always some apprehension when a player arrives from the continent and the fact that the Belgian has evidently got to grips with the Premier League indicates he is capable of being the success he is tipped to be. With a reputation for being a threat in the other penalty area, his aerial ability could be significant from set pieces.
West Ham put in an impressive display to defeat Fulham 3-0 at Upton Park. Andy Carroll took the plaudits at the other end but Jussi Jaaskelainen was in fine form in the Hammers goal. The Finn made nine saves to keep a clean sheet and topped the stats for the most stops over the weekend.
Given the score you could be forgiven for thinking it was one way traffic but Fulham had 14 efforts of their own and with that in mind, Jaaskelainen’s second clean sheet of the season will do wonders for his confidence. It’s early days but the signs suggest that the former Bolton player could be a shrewd signing by Sam Allardyce. Jaaskelainen is a proven Premier League stopper and his reliability- which surpasses that of previous custodian Robert Green- will be important this season.