Playmaker draws statistical inspiration from the season so far...

2019/20 Yearbook | September - October

2020/03/26 12:58
By Stephen Gillett

We hope you haven't flung in the towel after Round One of Playmaker's 2019/20 Yearbook last time out, as we've a steady supply of scintillating stats lined up for our September-October offering. 

As was the case previously, this article will meander all over the place - but the origins of each and every stat can be traced back to what was going on across the top four tiers of English football last September. 

The latest chapter of our Yearbook looks at, among other things: Tammy Abraham's graduation to Chelsea's first team, Brentford's strange predilection for sluggish starts and why Leicester are 16% more likely to win with Wilfred Ndidi in their line-up...

Let's get cracking! 

September-October 2019

Tam-ford Bridge

After scoring prodigiously for the Blues' youth teams and taming the Championship twice, with Bristol City and Aston Villa respectively, Tammy Abraham earned a shot at establishing himself in the Chelsea first team this season - and he grasped the opportunity with both hands. 

Timing was on Tammy's side, to be fair. New manager Frank Lampard had blooded Mason Mount and Fikayo Tomori at Derby in his debut managerial season and, flanked by former Chelsea youth coach Jody Morris, all the signs were that youth would be given its head at Stamford Bridge this season - even if the Blues hadn't been subject to a transfer ban because of their shady dealings at academy level. 

With Michy Batshuayi and World Cup winner Olivier Giroud as his competition up front, Abraham still had much to do to nail down a starting spot, but a hat-trick in a thrilling 5-2 win at Wolves last September effectively announced the arrival of another hot English striker on the Premier League scene.

To gauge just how well Abraham has done, Playmaker looked back through the debut seasons of the 24 Chelsea strikers to play in the Roman Abramovich era to rank the 22-year-old's achievements in 2019/20...and it's fair to say 'The boy done well'. 

Goalscoring savage Diego Costa and Blues legend Didier Drogba are, in fact, the only Chelsea players since 2003 to score more goals than Abraham in their first seasons - and only Costa (0.57 goals-per-game) boasted a better strike rate than Abraham (0.44 gpg), who would arguably have posted even better numbers were it not for a niggling ankle injury. 

Two Lions

The postponement of Euro 2020 to 2021 has taken the wind out of everyone's sails a bit, but now seems a good time to reflect on how impressive Gareth Southgate's England were for much of their qualification campaign - two players, in particular. 

Now with 32 England goals to his name from 45 internationals, Harry Kane seems hellbent on passing Wayne Rooney (53 goals) as his country's all-time top goalscorer. Kane fired in a dozen goals in the Three Lions' successful qualification bid, more than any player. 

England's attacking prowess was underlined by the fact that Raheem Sterling was second only to Kane when it came to involvement in Euro 2020 qualification goals: the Manchester City forward scoring eight and laying on another seven assists as England comfortably won their group.  

Last September, Kane and Sterling were on fire for their country: the former bagging a hat-trick in a 5-3 win against Kosovo, while the latter supplied a trio of assists in a 4-0 win against Bulgaria. 

Kane may since have been injured and Sterling's form at club level has notably slipped, but the pair remain England's go-to men at present. With Jadon Sancho, Marcus Rashford and the aforementioned Abraham also in the mix, England are blessed with an abundance of attacking riches at the moment. 

Bees' early season form can buzz off

Brentford are going through a purple patch in their history, the club's 'Moneyball' recruitment winning plaudits for unearthing the likes of Neal Maupay, Said Benrahma and Bryan Mbeumo and an exciting move to a new stadium also on the horizon.

Now 4th in the Championship and a good bet for the play-offs, a quick look back at the table after Matchday 10 shows that the Bees didn't get off to the best of starts - Frank's men languishing in 15th at the start of October. 

The Bees have a reputation as slow starters and we decided to see if there was any truth to it. 

We rifled through the numbers, going back to the Bees' promotion from League One in 2013/14, and It turns out Brentford do have a tendency to start the season poorly. In fact, between Matchday 10 and the end of their campaign, the Bees have improved their league position by a minimum of eight places in five of the last seven seasons. 

Two seasons (2016/17 and 2018/19) slightly spoil the stat party, as the Bees have not been completely averse to starting the season well - but there is a clear pattern of early season sluggishness: with the Bees winning only one of their opening fixtures across their last seven league campaigns. 

Among Europe's finest

By September, Swindon loanee Eoin Doyle had hit the top of the League Two goal charts...and he was just getting started.

A misfit at then-parent club Bradford City, the shackles of Valley Parade were shorn off in Wiltshire and Doyle came alive at the County Ground: only Ciro Immobile (27) scoring more league goals this term across the 'Top 5' European leagues and the EFL (yeah, we know...quite a wide spectrum!). 

With 25 League Two goals in 2019/20, Doyle is the top scorer in 'The 92' and one of those players who is always likely to score another once he's nabbed his first. The Irishman has scored multiple goals in seven League Two games this season (six doubles and a hat-trick) - more than any top four tier player. 

In a rather strange twist to Doyle's tale this season, he was recalled by Bradford in the New Year, but after four miserable games without a win or a goal, Swindon ended his Bantams misery and signed him on a permanent contract for a bargainous fee of around £100,000. 

Very good Ndidi!

Leicester's midfield pair of Youri Tielemans and James Maddison may be the headturners, but a key piston in the Foxes' engine room is Wilfred Ndidi

Brendan Rodgers' side went third in the Premier League after a 2-1 win over Spurs on Matchday 6 and have not been outside the top flight's top three ever since. In his first full season at The King Power Stadium, Northern Irishman Rodgers has certainly injected confidence and principles, but he inherited a squad on the up and an exceptional midfield trio when he took over from Claude Puel last February. 

Still only 23, Ndidi has established himself as the Premier League's best ball-winning midfielder, ranking in the top three for tackles-per-game in each of the past three seasons. Behind only (now crocked) team-mate Ricardo Pereira (4.3), Ndidi is second for tackles per game (4), as well as third for interceptions made (2.7) and third for passes blocked (1.5) in the top tier in 2019/20. 

Indeed, such is Ndidi's influence, Leicester suffered withdrawal symptoms when the Nigerian international missed seven games with a knee injury at the turn of the year. The Foxes won only one of those Ndidi-less fixtures in 2020, so we thought we'd extend the sample size and look at how they have fared with/without their ballwinner since he arrived in 2016/17 from Genk

Conclusions? Ndidi makes even more of an Ndi-fference than we thought! He has played 130 games for the Foxes in all comps with a win percentage of 42%; in contrast, Leicester have won only 29% of their games without him. On average, Leicester score more and concede less with Ndidi's no-frills presence in midfield; check out the image below for the full story...


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