Statistics are becoming ever more popular in the modern game, with there now a number of metrics to aid in determining the form and quality of a player beyond just merely looking at goals and assists.
One such useful statistic is that of ‘pressures applied’, which entails a player – whose team is out of possession – moving to close down, or press, an opponent, regardless of whether or not they are successful in winning the ball back.
Here’s a look at the top five for most ‘pressures applied’ per 90 minutes in the Premier League so far this season.
Martin Odegaard – 51.2
While clearly a gifted technician on the ball, Martin Odegaard has shown a willingness to put the hard yards in when called upon so far this season, having made a return to Arsenal on a permanent deal this summer following a successful loan stint at the back end of last term.
The former Real Madrid man featured heavily in the opening weeks of the season, often lining up in a number ten role behind the striker, although has found game time hard to come by of late with his last league start having come against Crystal Palace in mid-October.
The form of Emile Smith Rowe and Bukayo Saka has limited his opportunities, while manager Mikel Arteta has also favoured Alexandre Lacazette in a playmaking role off of centre-forward and captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
That has restricted the Norwegian to cameo appearances off the bench, including in the recent mauling at Anfield, although that thrashing at the hands of Liverpool could spark a change in tact for Arteta heading into Saturday’s clash with Newcastle United.
As evidenced by his place on this list, the 22-year-old is clearly not afraid to put a shift in and has undoubted quality with the ball, with now perhaps an opportune time to put the midfielder back into the starting XI.
Dwight McNeil – 51.4
Alongside the signing of Maxwell Cornet, Burnley’s most impressive and most important piece of business in the summer was keeping hold of Dwight McNeil, the winger having been such a vital asset under Sean Dyche over the last few years.
The Englishman – who only just turned 22 – has already gained a wealth of top-flight experience with 108 Premier League appearances to his name to date, having made initially made his debut for the club during the 2017/18 season.
He has no doubt gone from strength to strength since then, featuring in 74 of the club’s 76 league games across the last two seasons, while he’s already featured in all 12 league matches this season, all of which have come as starts.
Thriving with his regular role at Turf Moor, the gifted midfielder has really bought into the hard-working ethos of Dyche’s side, while he’s also been a regular provider with 17 assists in his top tier career to-date.
That tally does include just one assist this term, however, with the Burnley man yet to score also, in what’s been a typically tough start for the Clarets with just one win so far this term.
Fred – 51.7
Fred’s role at Manchester United has been heavily scrutinised ever since his arrival from Shakhtar Donetsk in the summer of 2018, although one area in which he cannot be faulted is his tireless work off the ball, despite his failings in possession.
His seemingly relentless energy and ability to break up play saw him emerge as one of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s trusted lieutenants in recent years, the Norwegian reverting to the at times maligned ‘McFred’ partnership to help protect the backline.
That ploy no doubt worked on occasion, although recent weeks have seen United opened up far too easily even with that protective shield in front of the back four, ultimately spelling the end for Solskjaer following Saturday’s dismal defeat to Watford.
Blame has often been centred around the club’s midfield options, although the likes of Fred and Scott McTominay have at times this season been left far too exposed in the centre of the park, the lack of a clear and obvious tactical set-up making it difficult to perform for whoever is selected.
In the wake of the inevitable managerial departure, the Brazilian did show how effective he can be during the Red Devils’ 2-0 Champions League win over Villarreal on Tuesday, the 28-year-old receiving praise for winning the ball back in the build-up to both goals, notably pinching the ball off Etienne Capoue to set-up Cristiano Ronaldo’s opener.
Jordan Ayew – 52.1
Jordan Ayew’s struggles in front of goal continue at Crystal Palace, although the forward has still featured heavily under Patrick Vieira so far this season, largely for his impressive work rate off the ball.
Often lining up on the right of a front three, alongside Wilfried Zaha and Christian Benteke, the Ghana international has been key to what has been a bright start for the Eagles under their new manager, the club currently in tenth with three wins and seven draws so far this season.
The 30-year-old has kept his place even with the impressive Michael Olise chomping at the bit for more regular involvement, with Vieira retaining faith in the player despite what is now a lengthy goal drought.
After netting nine Premier League goals during the 2019/20 campaign, the former Swansea man scored just once last season in a 4-1 over Leeds United and hasn’t netted since, with it now over a year since he last scored for the club.
Sean Longstaff – 52.1
Another surprise name at the top of this list, Newcastle United’s Sean Longstaff has been the division’s pressing machine – alongside Ayew – with the 24-year-old having found his rhythm again after a difficult last few seasons
The local lad had emerged onto the scene during the 2018/19 campaign and quickly caught the eye, with his form reportedly attracting the attention of Manchester United who were believed to be interested in making a move at the end of that season.
After the initial hype, the young Englishman struggled for regular game time in the last two seasons and was inhibited by injuries, although looks to be nearing a return to his best and has netted once in 11 league appearances far this season.
That form has come amid a difficult period for the Magpies, however, with the club the only top-flight side still yet to register a win so far this season, leaving them rock-bottom of the table and five points adrift of safety.
The arrival of new boss Eddie Howe, as well as the highly publicised change in ownership, has brought hope that there can be an upturn in fortunes, although it remains to be seen what impact that change will have on the likes of Longstaff, amid speculation that a clutch of new signings will be joining in January.
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The post Kings of the Press: Ranking the five PL players with most ‘Pressures Applied’ this season first appeared on The Football Faithful.
Author: Robbie Walls