Date: 29th January 2015 at 12:15pm
Written by:

There is probably a consensus towards the following list as the six best midfielders in the Premier League:

– Angel Di Maria
– Cesc Fabregas
– David Silva
– Eden Hazard
– Yaya Toure
– Alexis Sanchez

But how does one judge which is the best? I’ve heard it said that: Attackers should attack, defenders should defend, and midfielders should do a bit of both. Therefore, the best midfielder of the five above will be the individual with the best balance of both attacking and defensive qualities. Thanks very much to Squawka.com for the following stats from this season.

Attacking

If we add their Goals and Assists together, we see that the Chelsea duo are a close second to Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez:

Sanchez 19 (7 goals/12 assists)
Fabregas 17 (2 goals/15 assists)
Hazard 12 (8 goals/4 assists)
Di Maria 9 (3 goals/6 assists)
Y Toure 8 (7 goals/1 assists)
D Silva 8 (6 goals/2 assists)

It’s amusing to see that Fabregas alone has been involved in more goals than both the Manchester City players together. But Alexis Sanchez has really taken to the Premier League.

Turning to total Chances Created (including Assists), we continue to see dominance from the Chelsea pair:

1. Fabregas 65
2. Hazard 59
3. Sanchez 56
4. D Silva 40
5. Di Maria 34
6. Y Toure 20

Both Cesc and Eden have created three times as many chances as Yaya Toure.

And how about average Shot Accuracy? Making the most of shooting opportunities is as important as creating the opportunity itself:

1. Sanchez 67%
2. Fabregas 61%
3. D Silva 58%
4. Hazard 56%
5. Di Maria 45%
6. Y Toure 41%

Again, Fabregas is towards the top end of the chart, but Sanchez holds top spot; again, Mr Toure continues to flatter to deceive. Will there be redemption to be found in their average Passing Accuracy?

1. Y Toure 90%
2. Hazard 88%
3. Fabregas 87%
4. D Silva 86%
5. Di Maria 80%
6. Sanchez 77%

Toure’s 90% pass completion rate is impressive, but since it has yielded just one Assist in 20 Chances Created, perhaps it is the result of much ‘safe’ passing. Hazard and Fabregas are nevertheless, very close behind. Di Maria’s completion rate is poor, although he as at least created 14 more chances than Yaya.

One arbitrary way to rate and rank the attacking qualities of these midfielders would be to give them scores based on their position in the various tables i.e. 1st place = 5pts, 2nd place 4pts etc. Using the above tables, these are the total scores for their attacking;

1. Fabregas 20pts
2. Hazard 17pts
3. Sanchez 17pts
4. D Silva 11pts
5. Y Toure 10pts
6. Di Maria 9pts

Defending

A midfielder needs to be able to do some defending as well as attacking, and here we will see how they stack up. Total Defensive Actions include: Blocks, Interceptions and Clearances:

1. Fabregas 47
2. Y Toure 35
3. Sanchez 26
4. Hazard 25
5. D Silva 23
6. Di Maria 12

Astonishingly, Cesc leads this table as well, far outstripping his competitors in total defensive contributions. It should be noted that neither Di Maria nor Sanchez have blocked a single shot this Season. Next we look at their Tackles Won:

1. Fabregas 48
2. Sanchez 32
3. Y Toure 16
4. Hazard 15
5. D Silva 15
6. Di Maria 6

Fabregas on his own, has won as many tackles as the other midfielders put together – excluding Alexis (52)!

When tackles go wrong, players can risk receiving a Yellow or Red card. Who has the best disciplinary record? (Y/R)

1. Di Maria 0/0
2. Hazard 1/0
3. D Silva 3/0
3. Sanchez 3/0
5. Y Toure 4/0
6. Fabregas 7/0

And finally we will compare their Average Duels Won – this includes success rates for Tackling, Fouls, Take Ons and Headed Duels:

1. Hazard 63%
2. Y Toure 50%
3. Sanchez 47%
4. Fabregas 46%
5. D Silva 45%
6. Di Maria 43%

Therefore, their arbitrary defensive scores are:

1. Hazard 17pts
2. Sanchez 17pts
3. Fabregas 16pts
4. Y Toure 16pts
5. D Silva 10pts
6. Di Maria 9pts

Final Total

1. Cesc Fabregas 36pts
2. Eden Hazard 34pts
2. Alexis Sanchez 34pts
4. Yaya Toure 26pts
5. David Silva 21pts
6. Angel Di Maria 18pts

There you have it. From a particular statistical point of view, Chelsea FC has the two of the top three overall midfielders in the Premier League.