You’ve probably never heard of “per 100” but maybe you should have. If you know what per90 is, stats prorated per90 minutes played, then you can probably figure out what per100 is – it’s basically how many of X event per 100 touches. The NBA already has this metric and football got its own acolyte most recently in Tom Harrison and his “Performance 100”.
Tom is busy making his data pretty and analyzing Liga MX (the Mexican football league in America) and hasn’t had a chance to branch out too much into the Premier League (that I know of – and I follow him on Twitter). So, I took this idea and built my own “model.” It’s not a model. It’s just a thing.
As for sources: touches data is published over on the Premier League web site and it’s an easy formula (touches/100) to figure out how many “per 100’s” a player has in a season. You then take that number and divide whatever stat you want to into it. Let’s say, you want to know how many shots Aaron Ramsey takes inside the 18 yard box per 100 touches? He’s had 1188 touches (11.88 per 100s) and 28 shots in the 18 yard box, so he averages 2.36 shots in the 18 yard box per 100 touches.
Next what I wanted to see was how the midfielders in the Barney Ronay piece stacked up against each other: these are the players who people often watch and say “YEAH BUT WHAT DOES HE REALLY DO?” So, I popped in Emre Can, Paul Pogba, David Silva, Tim Bakayoko, Mousa Dembele, Aaron Ramsey, and for fun, I threw in good ole Alexis Sanchez. And guess what, Ramsey does a lot!
Let’s start with defense. I added blocked passes, tackles won, clearances made, interceptions, crosses blocked, and blocked shots. Ramsey is often accused of not doing much defensively and it’s kind of true. Compared to more defensive players like Bakayoko and Can, Ramsey averages 5 defensive actions per100 touches, Bakayoko averages 10.7, Can 9.6. And in the chart they look like this:
True story – Alexis often ran around waving at his teammates to defend and he also liked to make a big show of making a tackle every once in a while but he was less active than David Silva (who gets the ball a lot more than Alexis did). Also note that Pogba’s numbers are surprisingly low (unless you watch him play) and they are largely bumped up by how often he clears the ball. Given that Mourinho dropped Pogba after a heated discussion about Pogba not playing enough defense I wonder how long it will be before Mourinho realizes that Alexis doesn’t actually put in a defensive shift and drops him?
On the other end of the field, however, Ramsey is up there with the very best in terms of number 8s.
Ramsey’s overall offensive contribution is high because he shoots so often in the 18 yard box (2.36 per 100). I removed shots from outside the 18 because I have a personal bias against them (they are nearly as good as a turnover) but adding it back in, Ramsey is still the third best attacking player in the group. One other oddity about Ramsey is that he has also created a ton of big chances for his teammates (0.51 per 100) this season, that’s on par with David Silva. And he’s scored nearly as many goals per 100 touches (0.51 v. 0.53) as Alexis Sanchez.
Meanwhile, Players like Dembele, Bakayoko, and Pogba are much better dribblers and one of my “laws of stats” state that “good dribblers always look better to fans and pundits than other players”. The other law of stats is that fans/pundits love a dead ball specialist and a long range goal specialist. So, a guy who can dribble, score from direct free kicks, and scores a lot of goals outside the box will often be valued irrationally high (ahem, Coutinho).
Anyway, enough of that guff, here’s the final chart: turnovers per100. Of course, Alexis is king!
The per 100 stats aren’t going to settle the debate about Ramsey and they also don’t really change any data points (we already knew he shoots a lot and shoots a lot in the 18 yard box) in the debate either. But it does answer the question of “what does he do” for each of these players. Demebele is a dribbler, Bakayoko is more of a defensive specialist, Silva is an attacking mid playing deeper this season, Can is a really poor attacking player, Pogba is a dribbler, Alexis turns the ball over a lot and doesn’t play as much defense as people remember, and Ramsey is a pretty good all round footballer.
If he was playing for any other team I bet he’d have plenty of Arsenal Supporters yelling “ANNOUNCE RAMSEY” every time Arsenal tweeted anything.