Sanchez, Kane, De Bruyne, Salah: Top players must have the ball to lose it

Football has always been about statistics. The concept of a top scorer, for example, has been established for decades and yet is essentially a statistical irrelevance, nfl jerseys cheap nike given it almost always has no bearing upon the destination of a league title. That example, though, proves the statistics debate is nuanced.

It’s not about whether or not you use figures, but about what you record and how you interpret the numbers. Even the now-established idea of the assist was only formally defined in the 1990s and reliable records in this area have only been available within the last decade. Advanced metrics are starting to become commonplace, but they’re increasingly misused.

An interesting case study in recent weeks has involved Alexis Sanchez. Opta figures suggest that he’s conceded possession over twice as frequently as any of his teammates — 247 times, compared to 143 by Ashley Young and 126 by Romelu Lukaku — since his switch to Manchester United, with those numbers used as an example of his failings. But while Sanchez has underperformed, these stats are largely irrelevant in terms of demonstrating why he has struggled.

The “conceded possession” concept itself is something of a hybrid, taking into account unsuccessful dribbles and passes, as well as passes played to a player in an offside position, loose touches and even foul throws. (The latter is unlikely to impact anyone’s figures significantly, with the honourable exception of Tottenham’s Serge Aurier, who managed three in one game recently!)

There’s nothing wrong with grouping these factors together but they are considerably different:nfl nike jerseys cheap Losing the ball when attempting to dribble past someone is obviously different from losing it when attempting to play a through pass. Moreover, neither necessarily implies a turnover of possession; after being tackled the ball can run to a teammate or, after an unsuccessful pass is half-intercepted, it might run to a colleague.