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Helping Hands 2019/2020 30/07/2020

Posted by Matt Rowson in Thoughts about things.

The annual review of where the goals came from reveals, first of all, that there really weren’t very many of them were there?

Second thing is quite how many of them came from Deulofeu and Sarr.  Painfully obvious when looking back at the path of our season that we were vastly more effective with the two of them and Troy in tandem.  This only happened ten times from the start, all Premier League games of which we won 5 (Man United, Wolves, the tonkings of Villa and Bournemouth, and, you know, the famous one) and lost only 2 (the creditable performance at Anfield and Mullins’ first game at Leicester).  We only won three other League games of the remaining 28… both games against Norwich and the fightback against Newcastle.

Sarr, visibly, took some time to warm up, used cautiously as he settled in his first assist didn’t arrive until December.  Also significant that we won almost all of the games he assisted in, Arsenal on the final day being the exception reflecting the degree to which his form fluctuated and the team’s reflected it.

Elsewhere, rare to see a centre-back in joint third, Kabs doing a good line in flick ons but the other real message is the lack of threat from elsewhere in the team in stark contrast to last season.  José Holebas was the top assister then and we missed his contribution;  his one assist this season came in his final game for the ‘orns, five minutes after his introductin against Southampton.  His replacement, Adam Masina, didn’t manage an assist all season but this lack of supply reflects the team’s limitations as much as his own; Kiko also managed only one and that from a penalty earned by aggressive running against Newcastle rather than a cross.  The regular midfield trio of Capoue, Doucouré, Hughes managed only six between them compared to fourteen last season, if from a slightly larger number of games.

All of which is a different way of telling us what we already knew, I guess.  That the crown jewels, if they go, take a lot of the goal threat with them, and that we’re going to need to have slightly more variety about us if we’re going to thrive next season.  For comparison, in our promotion season ten players earned more than three assists compared to two this time (from six more games over league and cup).

Assists Apps Gls Assists vs
Deulofeu 7 25+5 4 ARS (H), SWA (H – LC), CHE (H), NOR (A), WOL (H), AST (A), EVE(H)
Sarr 6 23+7 6 MAU (H), WOL (H), BOU (A), LIV (H), NEW (H), ARS (A)
Deeney 3 26+1 10 AST (H), EVE (H), LIV (H)
Kabasele 3 29+2 0 COV (H – LC), MAU (H), LEI (H)
Doucouré 3 37+2 4 AST (H), BOU (A), LIV (H)
Success 2 2+5 0 COV (H – LC), COV (H – LC)
Chalobah 2 14+12 1 SHU (A), TRA (H – FAC)
Pereyra 2 21+11 5 ARS (H), SWA (H – LC)
Capoue 2 30 0 AST (H), NOR (H)
Janmaat 1 9+1 1 TOT (A)
Welbeck 1 10+10 3 ARS (A)
Gray 1 11+16 2 TRA (H – FAC)
Holebas 1 12+3 1 SOT (H)
Femenía 1 27+2 0 NEW (H)
Hughes 1 28+3 1 WHU (H)
Bennetts 0 0+1 0
Dalby 0 0+1 0
Hinds 0 0+1 1
Peñaranda 0 0+1 1
Wise 0 0+1 0
Pussetto 0 0+7 0
Hungbo 0 1 0
Barrett 0 1+1 0
Whelan 0 1+1 0
João Pedro 0 1+4 0
Bachmann 0 2 0
Spencer-Adams 0 2 0
Dele-Bashiru 0 2+1 1
Gomes 0 3 0
Prödl 0 3 0
Foulquier 0 3+2 0
Quina 0 5+4 0
Cleverley 0 11+8 1
Mariappa 0 18+5 0
Masina 0 22+6 1
Dawson 0 27+3 2
Cathcart 0 29+1 0
Foster 0 38 0

Check out the 2018-19, 2017-18, 2016-172015-162014-152013-142012-132011-12, 2010-112009-102008-09 and 2007-08 equivalents by clicking on the links.


1. SteveG - 31/07/2020

Your analysis of the impact of the Deulofeu/Deeney/Sarr triumvirate is hugely significant. Extrapolation is perhaps only one step up from Fantasy Football, but if you do take the form across those 10 games and project for the rest of the season, we’d be in the Champions League positions ahead of Man U! More realistically, if those three had been available simultaneously for most of the season then another comfortable mid-table finish would surely have been on the cards. Throw in the fact that Welbeck (and Success) were also unavailable for most of the season and we did have very limited options.

You’ve posted elsewhere, Matt, about lack of leadership at the back. While his post-match comments suggest that he thinks someone else will be in with an offer, if Troy is still with us in September and given the much discussed issues about his impact (or lack of it) up front, I wonder if he might follow in the footsteps of Marcus Gayle and make a conversion to a centre back to extend his career by a few more years. And Tom Cleverley at right back – might that be an option?

And finally, while I know that Dawson had mixed reviews and I accept that he was/is ‘more of the same’ rather than a significant strengthening of the squad, I see that Nathan Ake has transferred for just over £40m. Now he would have been an upgrade, but I don’t think we realistically had the money to get him in … and of course despite his presence at the back Bournemouth still went down!

Matt Rowson - 31/07/2020

Troy at the back isn’t a bad shout, but I do wonder how much his relatively low impact (he still managed 10 goals in 26 starts, albeit penalties in there) was down to his reduced mobility and the lack of bodies around him a lot of the time. He was VERY effective with Sarr and Deulofeu either side of him. Cleverley… less sure about that. He has the stamina but isn’t terribly quick.

JohnF - 01/08/2020

I like the idea of Troy moving to centre back. He is a good defender and has decent anticipation. There is a long history of centre forwards successfully moving back. Dave Watson with Sunderland and England in the 1970s was another good example. Hibs had a young winger who moved to full back and made it into the Scotland team when they were quite good. We do need to have some pace at the back and the return of Ben Wilmot could be significant. He is quite handy going forward too.

The analysis is always interesting and quite informative. Hughes works so hard and is important but he does have a tendency to fluff his lines around the opposition box but he had more assists last season I think.

2. Back from Hammerau - 02/08/2020

The starting line-up for the Liverpool game may have included Troy, Ismaila and Gerard “in tandem” (can you have more than 2 people in tandem – should it be trandem?), but given that the goals were all scored after the injury to Gerard, can the match be cited as evidence of the importance of those players playing together?

Matt Rowson - 02/08/2020

The stat is an aggregate. Picking out the occasion when goals weren’t scored with all three on the pitch is sillier than the aggregate itself. Did the chasing we gave Liverpool before Geri went off have nothing to do with what followed? You choose not to highlight the two games we lost with the trio together, a credible defeat at Anfield and a defeat at Leicester under Mullins. There’s always ifbut and context.

3. Ray Knight - 05/08/2020

Proof last night we should have upgraded our left back position in January with Joe Bryan or brought back Pervis Estupian. With Holly either injured or not fancied by Pearson, if Masina was unavailable switching to Kiko as cover can now be seen to be totally ridiculous. Just bring on Mapps at RB or move another CB across to fill the gap. Easy. A good example of our stop gap thinking on defensive matters that ultimately failed.

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