View Full Version : The midfield

07-12-2015, 02:36 PM
I was just looking at the performance of our main midfielders this season from a stats point of view. It’s interesting that in that regard only really David Jones is delivering what you’d expect from a team that should be capable of challenging for promotion. Barton and Arfield are doing ok, and Boyd’s stats are very poor. Supporting players such as Kightly and Taylor are also ok. I’ll explain in more detail.

We obviously aren’t a team that keeps the ball well, but that could often be blamed on long balls from the back. Jones is a mile out in front in for pass completion with 85%, but after him it’s much of a muchness with the rest back in the 70’s. No great surprise there. When you look at teams such as Brighton, Boro and Derby they all have plenty of players in the 80%’s.

Where it really gets interesting is with chances created and assists. Jones again is outstanding in this regard with 25 chances created and 4 assists. Not bad for someone who isn’t seen as particularly dynamic

07-12-2015, 03:19 PM
I'm not too sure about this myth about Darikwa being a great attacking fullback. For me, he doesn't get forward anywhere enough like a modern day fullback would. He seems to be under strict orders to put the handbrake on, not all the time, when he crosses the halfway line and leaves one with sense of frustration. The speed and agility is there for all to see and we have seen him put in dangerous crosses, but not enough imo.

07-12-2015, 03:57 PM
I think there's a lot of validity to those stats. Arfield's returns are OK - though short on goals, certainly - and I don't particularly have a problem with the lack of goals from the central 2. Its the returns from Boyd which strike me as particularly disappointing given he was a flagship signing to improve the side 18 months ago (and who in fairness did OK in the Premier League). After a poor spell, he's done OK-enough recently to persuade Dyche to keep faith with him, but he isn't converting it into returns and eventually that has to translate into a change.

I think there are two problems. The first is a direct criticism of Boyd (and to a lesser extent Arfield), and it is that we lack a really incisive, creative player to unlock defences - Dyche himself even talked about our lack of composure "in the moments that can lead to good chances" after the game on Saturday. We didn't address this in the summer and its a clear shortcoming in the side and it means we don't capitalise on th

07-12-2015, 04:13 PM
I had pencilled Boyd and Arfield in for 10 goals each this season after the efforts of last season and the promotion year ( Arfield ) but at this rate it looks like neither will get to even half that total.

The lack of goals from midfield never really get noticed if your front 2 are scoring regularly and the back door is kept shut on a regular basis, sadly however neither of these things are happening ( with the exception of Gray )
It seems at the moment if you stop Gray, Burnley don't create or score.

How many times in the promotion year when DI & SV was kept quiet did Kightly or Arfield pop up with an important goal? I bet their goals contributed to 20 points, then we had Barnes who came in an contributed also.

This year we look a 1 man team with Taylor being the one who has rescued a point off the bench.
Long, Hennings and the whole of the midfield look as though goals will be few and far between. ( I know some haven't had many minutes but they must be deemed not good en

The Bedlington Terrier
07-12-2015, 04:34 PM
Heaton, Lowton, Keane, Mee, Ward, Barton, Jones, Marney, Gray, Long and Hennings in a 4-3-3, with a great option to change again off the bench. Let's do it!

07-12-2015, 04:42 PM
of course

07-12-2015, 05:23 PM
I rate Barton higher than Jones. The only reason the latter has a higher completion rate is because 90% of his are 10-15 yards (normally sideways or backwards). Barton is considerably more ambitious (and able) - and it's that that we need more of. Personally, and yes I know we don't play anything other than 4-4-2, our midfield issues come often from having one less man in the middle.
Far too easy for teams to just pass it round us

07-12-2015, 05:35 PM
Jones has been without doubt one of our best players so far this season. There is of course an option of playing Jones, Barton and Marney in a midfield three.

07-12-2015, 05:43 PM
We are too rigid, and too predictable, teams know we play 442 so play either 4231 or 352 and play between the lines and overrun us in midfield. Dyche again was reactive with the subs and only makes them when we go behind.

boatshed bill
07-12-2015, 05:55 PM
Not entirely the fault of the midfield, but are we contesting possession far enough up the field lately?
In our promotion season Ings and Vokes were a real force, defending from the front.

07-12-2015, 09:36 PM
Spice – some fair comments. There were times early in the game on Saturday when the ball in was decent, but there was only 1 player in a dangerous position in the middle. As a matter of balance, players who are there to create will find have poor stats if there’s no-one to get on the end of them. The central two’s goals records would as you say not be a problem if we were playing like we were 2 years ago. Vokes though had a freak season for a target man and the goal returns were much better from wide men. With goals coming mainly from Gray (which shouldn’t be a problem) we need more from elsewhere, and central midfield should be an area we can get 5-10 goals from in a season without being greedy. The Trippier point is also a good and obvious one. 80 chances he created 2 seasons ago, which is incredibly high for a full back. It does put into perspective though the idea that Darikwa is a good attacking full back.

Bonleh – it is true that Barton tries longer passes, but on average by

07-12-2015, 09:50 PM
Finally some stats to back up what I've said about Darikwa not being this flying full back some people have described him as. Putting Lowton into the team would up the chances created massively, he has genuine class and loves crossing the ball almost as much as Trippier did!

boatshed bill
07-12-2015, 09:56 PM
Amazing stuff, Charlie.
Thanks for the in-depth analysis. Tells a lot about what we are doing wrong right now.
For what it's worth, I'll throw this in:
If you constantly stick by basically the same 11, how do you prevent them from becoming complacent, even a bit lazy? I think we may have a bit of this going on, Footballers are like any other people in their respective workplace, and all need a kick up the backside sometimes.

08-12-2015, 12:34 PM
Really interesting, cheers Charlie.

One consideration to make on those stats would be that Arfield played a good chunk of games at the beginning of the season in CM, he'd maybe be worth a couple more chances created/assists had he been playing in his proper position all season long.

One thing I'm noticing this season is that the forwards aren't making the midfielders lives easy. Gray plays off the shoulder so if the through ball is being closed off then it's going to Vokes (coming deep) and his ball retention seems really poor to me this year (don't know if there are stats to back that up). He is more capable of winning headers but we don't seem to have created that many chances from winning that first header and we've also not put too many good crosses into the box. I want to see more of Hennings, thought his first half against Brighton was promising (linked play well), we might suffer without Vokes defending set-pieces but we might keep the ball better going forward, allow us t

08-12-2015, 06:39 PM
Interesting stats. To me we just look a lot more passive than in recent seasons, teams are keeping the ball pretty comfortably against us, not often this season have I seen us forcing the opposition all the way back to the keeper ending up with them punting it forward.
IMO that is to do with the midfield of Jones and Barton, who do a similar job and have very little energy between them. Also, not sure that Darikwa and Boyd put as much pressure on teams as Trippier and Kightly did in the promotion season. The stats might say different and i could be completely wrong, but as i see it, when Kightly closes a man down, he sprints towards the ball with pace and aggression and puts serious pressure on, where as Boyd is far less aggressive with his pressing and at times looks to fill spaces rather than pressure the ball.

08-12-2015, 06:46 PM
The team has a different shape this season to the promotion season. We aren't playing so high up the pitch, for a number of reasons. Firstly, its right to say that Barton doesn't press as high as Marney. But secondly because its in our interests to encourage teams to come on to us a bit more. Think of the Fulham game - our second goal came because Fulham advanced a bit, and that created the space for Gray in behind, and his chip against the bar in the second half was an even better example. We're more of a counter-attacking team this season - we allow teams up to half way and then spring to try and press them, rather than trying to win the ball back terriifically high up the pitch (which tends to result in teams playing long earlier, and their centre backs staying deeper).

08-12-2015, 06:58 PM
Fair reflection Charlton I think .

I still think we are too lightweight centrally , I have nothing against Jones at all he's a very neat and tidy footballer but lacks any real presence.
Boyd IMO has lost his physical attributes yes he can run and run, but gets eased of the ball very easily - this has been a real problem for him I think. I can't fault his commitment in the games however his in ability to beat a man is costing us.

Arfield is similar IMO doesn't beat a man ( lacks pace ) is fully committed to the cause but again lacks any physical presence - hence why he struggled centrally.

Barton is a superior player to any of the above and I feel will improve again if we could get

I think truthfully this league has moved on again and it's caught us a bit cold , we were thinking maybe we could slip straight back into where were 2 seasons ago, also the players we brought in haven't quite hit the ground running.

I'm interested to see what Dyche does to counter act our pr

boatshed bill
08-12-2015, 07:01 PM
From what I've seen, I'd say we're almost too eager to concede space in order to get our regulation 2 lines of 4 in place. Yes. we are inviting teams on to us, and it is a lousy tactic to watch. Moreover, if it wasn't for the excellent Tom Heaton we would have lost several more games.

08-12-2015, 07:09 PM
'The team has a different shape this season to the promotion season. We aren't playing so high up the pitch, for a number of reasons. Firstly, its right to say that Barton doesn't press as high as Marney. But secondly because its in our interests to encourage teams to come on to us a bit more. Think of the Fulham game - our second goal came because Fulham advanced a bit, and that created the space for Gray in behind, and his chip against the bar in the second half was an even better example. We're more of a counter-attacking team this season - we allow teams up to half way and then spring to try and press them, rather than trying to win the ball back terriifically high up the pitch (which tends to result in teams playing long earlier, and their centre backs staying deeper).'

Don't disagree with that in terms of how we are playing but i'm not sure the logic behind it is necessarily correct.
If we were to press higher and win the ball more often high up the pitch, then it would give

08-12-2015, 09:27 PM
I'd like to try and dig into Arfield's success from earlier in the season, but Squawka doesn't make it easy for you, and I haven't the time now.

The Jones/Barton one keeps coming up, and I'll say again that I think people over-estimating what Barton brings to the table. It's difficult to compare, because players are given different roles. Barton does come out on top over Jones in terms of duels. In fact Barton has almost double the number of tackles in nearly half the games. They have a similar amount of defensive actions per game though. Barton's defensive stats are move in line with Marney's from 2 years ago, with Marney edging that one, though Marney has considerably better attacking stats in that season. I checked 2 years ago and Jones put in many more tackles, so in general Spice may be correct that we are letting teams come onto us more on purpose.

Squawka has an algorithm for giving players scores per game. How reliable it is would be open to debate, but Jones is in the le

09-12-2015, 01:28 PM
Just goes to show that statistics are a blunt tool without a lot of interpretation, esp. in the case of Jones.
How many times did he make the safe or only available pass on his left foot rather than a better one? How many times did a move come to a halt whilst he sorted his feet out? Doing this completing a backward pass and allowing ball retention admittedly.
Just checked Squawka and the info. is sadly lacking.

09-12-2015, 02:23 PM
A safe pass that keeps the ball is better than a risky one that gives it away.

I'm sorry, but if you don't rate Jones as one of the best midfielders the club has had in modern times you just don't deserve to watch him every week. He's pure class. Would you rather have someone like James O'Connor who tried to pass it forward every time he got it but gave it away more often than not? People really don't realise how good Jones is and if he'd ever missed a few games you'd see what he brings to the side. Not to mention the fact he completely carried the midfield from Marney's injury to Barton getting in the side. Absolutely ridiculous the stick he gets from some fans.

And yet.

What I take from those stats is that Barton is being asked to do pretty much Marney's role - break up play and move the ball quickly. I'm a massive, massive fan of Dave Jones but there is validity to the idea of partnering Barton with Marney as Joey probably has a touch more to his game than Jones. You'd h

09-12-2015, 04:14 PM
Happy to accept a difference of opinion but I did think Jones was at his one footed shuffling worst at the end of last season and to say he completely carried the midfield is an insult to Arfield who I think many were overcritical of. Admittedly Jones looks better in the championship.
By the way I'm not talking about taking a risky pass just a nice easy one for a moderately two footed player. Would like the statistic that shows completed passes with right foot and left foot for each player as a player who is heavily one footed can still be good but is working with a limited palette.

09-12-2015, 07:13 PM
Cblantanclub – I may be biased as I work with stats and data on a daily basis, but it seems to me that you’re discounting stats because they don’t back up your argument. I mentioned earlier that Squawka is not in depth, but it’s still far more than Championship fans usually have to go off. The stats do measure forward and backward passes, and they do factor in long balls and through balls and on neither does Jones come out worse than Barton. Let’s not forget we’re talking about a Championship player here. We’re unlikely to have a player who’s got excellent passing, mainly goes forward and uses both feet.

I suppose the only surprising thing is it took until the 21st post for someone to discount stats. In summary in response to you, I’d be interested to know that if Squawka uses 500 million data points per game why you think what it doesn’t take into account would be much different? Any decent manager worth their salt will use stats these days, and I’d be surprised if any operated sol

09-12-2015, 07:25 PM
Couldn't agree more Jamb0MackemClaret. I always use people's opinion on Jones as a barometer of whether they know football or not. It's mind boggling that some fans cannot see what he brings to the team. In the top three or four best central midfield players I've ever seen at Burnley.

Unfortunately one of our biggest issues in the last couple of seasons is that we haven't played through him more. He doesn't have the chance to dictate play from the centre of the park because we bypass him with long balls for the most part. Our back four need to try and get the ball into the likes of Jones and Barton more and allow them to do their thing rather than pumping it forward aimlessly, although I suspect that isn't in the manager's plan.

09-12-2015, 08:27 PM
Agree 100% - the midfield can't control the play if the ball sails over their heads for most of the game.

09-12-2015, 08:30 PM
'although I suspect that isn't in the manager's plan'.

Not entirely convinced.

10-12-2015, 07:30 AM
no surprise that the stats show our best midfielder is our best midfielder.

10-12-2015, 07:42 AM
There are some weird comments on here about Jones being 1 footed, why is it someone who uses is left is deemed a lesser player than someone who uses his right.

Those who don't like Jones don't like football

10-12-2015, 02:52 PM
That wasn't a knock on the manager, just the way his teams play. Currently if there's no space of note, the go-to option is to pump it long and hope for Vokes to win a flick-on. However, I'd be more inclined to get the ball into the feet of our central two, even in small pockets of space as they are both so comfortable in possession. It's probably the strongest area of our team at the moment.

Allowing Barton and Jones to use their vision to find through balls for Andre is always going to be more productive than getting Duff to hopelessly launch it long and hope for Vokes to make something of it.

10-12-2015, 05:39 PM
Part of the problem is that there's still a problem in the team with the balance at centre back. Regularly in the last few home games Jones and Barton have neatly worked things out in midfield and shifted the ball to one of the centre halves encouraging them to step up and join in the play, but its either been to Duff, or to Keane on his left foot. At which point the option of going short to a striker coming deep or a winger coming off the line becomes a nice theory because the centre back isn't technically good enough to feed that ball with the right weight or precision. That's ultimately meaning we give the ball away, or the ball goes back to Jones or (more usually - he's generally the one showing for the centre backs as the holding player) Barton who ends up under pressure and forced to punt it forwards speculatively.

If the pairing was Shackell and Duff, as Dyche no doubt intended, it'd be a completely different story and we'd be a far better footballing side (we were in some re

11-12-2015, 12:09 PM
We need goals from the midfield or we are stuffed.

11-12-2015, 12:50 PM
I fully agree with spice that the back 4 is affecting the balance of the team; the problems in creativity are not just down to the personnel chosen to play in the middle.

I am sure the thinking when Lowton was bought was simply to slot in as a direct replacement for Trippier, but with Shackell leaving and Lowton getting injured, the season didn't begin with a settled defence. As time has gone by we have been generally winning (not losing) but I think this papered over the cracks.

I am sure back in July Dyche would not have chosen this to be his first-choice back 4, and so it will be interesting to see if and who he chooses to buy in January.

11-12-2015, 01:12 PM
Yep - its probably actually unfair to single out the centre backs. Darikwa and Mee are OK distribution wise from the back, but neither are great (Darikwa mixes really good distribution with some pretty erratic stuff). Which means that not one of our back 4 is currently distributing the ball with consistent accuracy and weight into the forward players. Its making the job of Jones and Barton really tough. Before Barton came into the side our constructive football was widely derided, rightly - but the blame was unfairly attached to Jones and Arfield because the problems started further back. Barton is a good player and a natural ball-plying holding player so he's helped the situation but no-one could claim he's remedied it.

I don't think there's any doubt that pairing Mee and Keane would be more vulnerable defensively, particularly under the high ball, but I think there's equally little doubt a left to right of Ward, Mee and Keane, with either Lowton or Darikwa at right back, would un

11-12-2015, 02:45 PM
Nail on the head ^.

boatshed bill
11-12-2015, 03:06 PM
Isn't it stretching things a bit far to blame our back four for the midfield's lack of creativity?
Or are you saying that our game plan is to get the ball into midfield, pass it into defence so that they can launch it upfield ?

11-12-2015, 03:12 PM
The defence aren't entirely to blame, but they are a significant factor.

It is not as black and white as passing back to play the long ball but the positioning and distribution of the back 4 (especially the full-backs) have a direct impact on the movement and options left for the midfield to take.

boatshed bill
11-12-2015, 03:20 PM
I have to admit that I'm not keen on having central defenders playing the ball out of the box. There aren't many Alan Hansens out there.

11-12-2015, 08:03 PM
I think you are right in a way , the full backs do struggle but half the time our so called wide men are forever coming short and narrowing play making it difficult for the backs to play ball unless perhaps Gray offers in the channels ,or what usually happens it goes back inside to Jones or Barton who give it the centre backs , who in turn send it high and long.

It's a game of opinions I appreciate that and we all see different things that are perhaps more apparent to us based on where we played etc.

All I think is it really needs a shake up , it's over to Dyche again.

Wouldn't be surprised if we win tomorrow at Qpr.

11-12-2015, 09:04 PM
Another problem is that when Heaton gets possession he charges to edge of his box looking really intent
on releasing Gray or one of the 'wingers' - he then 95% of the time decides against it , rolls it to Duff who
then whooshes the ball aimlessly up front !!!!

11-12-2015, 11:32 PM
Barton and Jones work well together but neither can make an incisive pass forward or score goals

Boyd and Arfield are inconsistent.

That pretty much is the problem with our midfield.

The central defence have enough problems of their own to be dragged into this argument.

None of the current problems will be solved with the current players no.matter how people dress it up