Matchweek 27 facts and figures, for Balsall Heath and beyond….
There has been much to adore about the establishment of Nathan Baker’s play. Murmurs from before this season about the excellence he often displayed in training situations certainly are looking more and more accurate. And still there’s no telling yet how much better the Worcestershire product can blossom if his injury misfortunes begin to cease.
All that being stated, Baker’s struggle to deliver the ball proficiently around the back regions of the team’s scheme is worth some concern. On short passes this season, his completion rate is nearly down to 75 percent — acceptable for attacking players who normally operate in traffic, but not defenders who have crisper lanes to work with behind midfield and riskier damage at stake each time the ball is lost. Almost every other Villa defender is completing well above 80 percent of their short passes this season. Below is the full list.
Completion Pct: 88.1
Completion Pct: 87.2
Completion Pct: 86.4
Completion Pct: 85.4
Completion Pct: 83.9
Completion Pct: 83.4
Completion Pct: 81.9
Completion Pct: 76.6
Thirteen of the top 20 active career scoring leaders in the Premier League don’t have a league goal at the Emirates Stadium, most notably No. 1 Frank Lampard, No. 3 Michael Owen, No. 4 Jermain Defoe, No. 6 Paul Scholes, No. 7 Ryan Giggs and No. 9 Steven Gerrard.
Meanwhile, both No. 8 Darren Bent and No. 16 Gabriel Agbonlahor have multiple goals inside Arsenal’s 6-year-old fortress on record. Yet both appear likely to start on the bench for Saturday’s game. Agbonlahor, only recently lifted from the official injury report, may have to lord back his standing as an automatic starter. Bent, benumbed by Christian Benteke’s colossal debut season, has been in the starting lineup twice in his last 10 appearances.
Nevertheless, the mercurial pair can be immensely valuable on significant trips like this weekend’s to the Emirates and the April journey to Old Trafford forthcoming. On that list of the league’s top 20 active career scoring leaders, Bent and Wayne Rooney are the sole players who have scored at all the venues in the Premier League above 35,000 seats in stature. Agbonlahor has scored at nine of those 11 locations, a feat that Carlos Tevez and Dimitar Berbatov are still short of reaching. Below is the complete look at how many of the PL’s largest-scale stages (35,000+) have been scored on by the career goal leaders.
Bent 11 (Missing: none)
Rooney 11 (Missing: none)
Giggs 10 (Missing: Emirates)
Owen 10 (Missing: Emirates)
Lampard 10 (Missing: Emirates)
Agbonlahor 9 (Missing: St. James’, City of Manchester)
Barry 9 (Missing: Emirates, Goodison Park)
Crouch 9 (Missing: Old Trafford, Stamford Bridge)
Defoe 9 (Missing: Emirates, Anfield)
Van Persie 9 (Missing: Stadium of Light, Goodison Park)
Torres 9 (Missing: St, James’, City of Manchester)
Adebayor 8 (Missing: Stadium of Light, Stamford Bridge, Goodison Park)
Duff 8 (Missing: Emirates, Stadium of Light, Villa Park)
Gerrard 8 (Missing: Emirates, Stadium of Light, Stamford Bridge)
Nolan 8 (Missing: Emirates, Anfield, Stamford Bridge, Goodison Park)
Scholes 8 (Missing: Emirates, Anfield, Goodison Park)
Dempsey 7 (Missing: Emirates, Stadium of Light, Anfield, Upton Park)
Johnson 7 (Missing: Emirates, Old Trafford, Emirates, Anfield, Stamford Bridge)
Tevez 7 (Missing: Emirates, Stadium of Light, Villa Park, Goodison Park)
Berbatov 6 (Missing: Stadium of Light, City of Manchester, Anfield, Villa Park, Stamford Bridge)
Cumulative goal differential after halftime this season: a highly-condemnable minus-23 (12 scored, 35 allowed). The type of post-halftime play that the team is craving for the closing 12-game stretch ahead was exemplified best by the frolicsome Villans of 12 years ago.
They were minus-3 in goal differential for second halfs up until Feb. 3, 2001, when Villa started outscoring opponents 17-6 after halftime for the remainder of the season. Only twice did an opponent score more following the break in those 15 games. Even Lee Hendrie netted four second-half goals during a five-match period at the turn of spring. All that royally respectable play helped vault the Villa from 11th in the league standings up to a final finish of 8th come May. Below are all the second-half scorelines for those feel-good four months.
Second Half Scorelines
Last 15 Matches
3-0 @Bradford 3-0 (Vassell 2, Joachim)
1-1 @Sunderland (Joachim)
2-0 vIpswich (Joachim 2)
1-0 @Manchester City (Hendrie)
1-0 vLeicester (Hendrie)
2-2 vWest Ham (Ginola, Hendrie)
1-0 vEverton (Taylor)
3-1 @Charlton (Ginola, Vassell, Hendrie)
3-0 vCoventry (Vassell, Angel, Merson)
—Patrick Kinmartin (PKtype@Gmail.com …. Facebook.com/TypePK)