WEIRD STATISTICS SUGGEST…JAMES RODRIGUEZ SHOULD BE PLAYED IN A SHOCK POSITION FOR ARSENAL! by Nicholas
Reports emerging from multiple media outlets, including the Daily Mirror, suggest that Real Madrid have accepted Arsenal’s possible record-breaking bid for James Rodriguez. Arsenal must have felt Rodriguez would bring something special to the squad. Something worth breaking the record transfer fees for. In terms of talent and potential, Rodriguez would be up there with the likes of Ozil, Lacazette, Aubameyang, world class.
And in terms of pedigree, Rodriguez has come through the hands of some of the best clubs in the footballing world having played for Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, Porto and Monaco among others. However, Rodriguez has failed to live up to his hype, thus far. He famously pronounced himself to the world stage through the 2014 World Cup where his exploits saw him carry his country Colombia through into the quarter-finals of that tournament, prompting Real Madrid to a make an over $100 Million purchase to take him to the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium in what was the fourth most expensive transfer of all time back in 2014.
Having failed to secure an outright starting berth at the Bernabeu, Real Madrid allowed James Rodriguez to join Bayern Munich on loan. Rodriguez has not really managed to set Munich alight either and Real Madrid may be willing to let him go.
For Arsenal to be making this transfer, many would not be wrong in assuming Rodriguez is coming to Arsenal to replace Mesut Ozil. And Ozil has not been the best friend of himself this term. Of a possible 21 matches in the EPL, this season so far Mesut Ozil has played in just 13 and started in 12 of those and was in the bench for one. Mesut Ozil has had ‘mysterious’ back and knee problems ending up missing 5 matches through injury, yet in some cases he has been left out of the squad altogether for tactical reasons, driving speculation about his importance to manager Unia Emery’s plans. His statistics reads 3 goals and 1 assist from 14 games. With half the season gone it means there may not be enough matches for these kinds of statistics to improve for him. This is far cry from previous seasons when Ozil would miss just a few matches and would score goals and make many assists. For instance, he racked up 4 goals and 9 assists from 26 matches in 2017/18 season, and had 8 goals and 10 assists in 2016/17 season, with his most productive season being 2015/16 where he scored 6 times and assisted a whopping 19 times.
However, a reading into Rodriguez’s statistics suggests, Unai Emery should make a shock decision and bring in Rodriguez to replace…take a deep breath… Granit Xhaka! Here are some three reasons why.
#1WINNING A FOOTBALL MATCH
The best means of defending is attacking which requires dominance. It is what Liverpool and Man City are doing right now. It is what Barcelona is known for. It is what Bayern, Paris Saint Germain (PSG) and Real Madrid are made of. It was what the Arsenal of yore – the Invincibles – were known for. Arsenal should score more frequently, score much earlier, convert most chances created into goals, and therefore Arsenal needs to be shaped around superior attack and score default system.
A player like James Rodriguez would certainly help bring through more competence in dominance, being a competent ball keeper, ball runner and dribbler. He is an incisive passer of the ball and has this deadly technique where he makes 1, 2 or 3 touches on the ball which helps him opens up space and quickly release passes in just a few seconds, turning seemingly harmless moves into dangerous attacks instantly. This suggests that he can start off recoveries and escalate them into superb counters much like Santi Carzola used to do from the deep-lying playmaker position. His ability to score goals from virtually all over the pitch means the opposition will have an extra person to man mark and being in the central midfield area, he would likely pull away defenders ruining their formation. As a dead-ball specialist, it means opposition would rather not risk giving away a dead ball situation like a free kick or corner and would be cautious in coming through to attack. This all amounts to a player who can wrestle dominance in the area most needed, at the pre-attack stage. This stage normally happens at the central midfield. Further inside the midfield and with lesser attention from opposition defenders, he would do lots of damage compared to many other players. With Lucas Torreira at his side, Rodriguez would flourish by helping to transition defending to deadly attacking, which would bring Aubameyang and Lacazette into better scoring chances.
His play pattern suggests that he would result in more interventions in a match, to help turn the game around in favour of Arsenal as compared to Xhaka, from that central midfield area.
#2. THE MATH
Let’s look at the numbers starting with the goals scored over the careers of the two stars Granit Xhaka and James Rodriguez. We can only look at the position they have both featured in prominently for comparison – Central Midfield. Over his career, Granit Xhaka has featured in the central midfield role 77 times. In terms of goals, he has scored 9 times and made 9 assists from this position. If we work out the percentages, we get 11.6% performance percentage over these two parameters.
From the same position James Rodriguez has featured here 22 times. Of those 22 appearances, he has scored 7 times and made 12 assists. That works out to 31.8% for goals and 44% for assists. Averagely, he gets 37.9%!
Of course, there is the defensive work to be done in this area and James Rodriguez has weaknesses in those parameters. Some of those weaknesses are that his tracking back and his aerial duel delivery are poor. I’m sure Xhaka would move closer to him averagely if such parameters like blocks, interceptions, tackles and recoveries were to be included.
For purposes of context, let’s look at some prominent players who have featured in this role internationally. Aaron Ramsey, played 160 career times as a central midfielder, scored 38, made 26 assists. He scores 19.6%, Santi Carzola played 72 times, 6 goals 15 assists and gets 14.5%, Cesc Fabregas Played 233 times, 29 goals and 77 assists to get 22.5%, Andreas Iniesta Played 413 times, 31 goals 83 assists and therefore gets 13.75%, Xavi Played 513 times, 57 goals 135 assist gets 18.71%, Andrea Pirlo 37 times 2 goals 7 assists gets 12.15%, Ngolo Kante played 111 times 10 goals, 13 assists to get 10.35%.
#3. RODRIGUEZ BEST POSITION IS…
From these statistics, we can try to establish James Rodriguez’s best position over the tenure of his career thus far.
From the right wing he has 27 goals from 73 games here. That’s 36%
From the left-wing, he has 19 goals out of 58 outings coming to 32%
From attacking midfield, he has 27 goals from 100 appearances ending up 27%
From central midfield, we had already worked out that he gets 31.8%
From the right-wing, he has 27 assists from 73 games here. That’s 36%
From the left-wing, he has 20 assists out of 58 outings coming to 34%
From attacking midfield, he has 36 assists from 100 appearances ending up 38%
From central midfield, we had already worked out that he gets 44%
Unified Performance Indicator
From the right-wing, he has 36 % for goals added to 27% assists. That’s 31.5%
From the left-wing, he has 32% for goals added to 34% assists coming to 33%
From attacking midfield, he has 27% for goals 38% assists and we end up with 32%
From central midfield, we have 31.8% and he gets 44% for assists which ends up with 37%
Clearly, James Rodriguez’s best deployment is central midfield if these weird statistics are to be believed and he is way ahead of Granit Xhaka whom Arsenal deploys in this area. Should Rodriguez, therefore, replace Granit Xhaka in Central Midfield?
Source of stats: Transfermarkt