Why Pavlyuchenko should be first choice in the league (warning, stat alert!)
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Roman Pavlyuchenko is not a perfect striker – his all-round game is lacking in key areas, and he often doesn’t seem to be putting in as much effort as he could. But on Sunday he once again did what the rest of our strikers have been struggling to do – put the ball in the net (and in impressive fashion).
In the league, Pavlyuchenko continues to do well scoring-wise, despite not getting the same run of games that both Crouch and Defoe have tended to enjoy. It makes me wonder what he could achieve if he were allowed to get into his rhythm.
The stats for our strikers in the league so far this season are quite incredible:
Whilst Peter Crouch has so far scored at a rate 1052 minutes per goal, and Defoe and Keane have yet to score, Pavlyuchenko has a rate of 134 minutes per goal. This despite starting 4 less games than Crouch. Purely for comparison, I have included van der Vaart (who of course hasn’t always played up front). Most would agree that he has a good scoring record, but it is not as good as Pavlyuchenko’s.
Many fans argue that Crouch offers more, because although he doesn’t score, he gets vital assists. Even taking his five league assists into account, he still only averages a goal or assist every 175 minutes (Pavlyuchenko 134 and van der Vaart an impressive 87). Of course this does not take into account other areas in which our strikers weigh in (for example, Crouch offers valuable aerial presence when defending corners).
If this argument wasn’t compelling enough, just look at the goals record in the calendar year for our three main strikers (with thanks to Trashpost from COYS for all of the following stats):
Defoe: 4 goals in 19 starts (and 3 sub appearances).
Crouch: 5 goals in 20 starts (and 15 sub appearances).
Pavlyuchenko: 10 goals in 15 starts (and 12 sub appearances.
And in order to answer the inevitable questions about quality of opposition/percentage of away matches played:
Away league starts in 2010:
Pavlyuchenko: 6 away matches (40% of his 2010 league starts)
Crouch: 10 away matches (50%)
Defoe: 8 away matches (42%)
Matches against the top 3 (Arsenal/Man Utd/Chelsea):
Pavlyuchenko: 5 matches (33% of his 2010 starts)
Crouch: 0 matches (0%)
Defoe: 4 matches (21%)
Our results are far better with Pavlyuchenko in the team (in 2010, we’ve averaged 0.5 points per game more when Pavlyuchenko starts, compared to when Crouch starts).
Obviously Defoe is recovering from injury, and so judging him on this season’s stats may be harsh. However, he has had a disappointing calendar year in general – just 4 league goals is nowhere near a good enough return.
As I said at the top of this article, he is far from ideal, but until we get someone better in, these stats show me that Pavlyuchenko should be one of the first names on the team sheet in league matches.