Debate: Is Nemanja Matic The Best Holding Midfielder In The Premier League?


After moving back to Chelsea under Jose Mourinho in the 2013/14 season for £21m, Nemanja Matic has enjoyed an excellent title winning season under the Portuguese boss, and has established himself among the best holding midfielders in the country. We take a statistical look at how Nemanja Matic compares against other top holding midfielders in the Premier League.

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We decided that we would compare the Serbian with the best (in our opinion) holding midfielder from each of the three other clubs that achieved a top four finish last season. We compared Matic’s stats in a wide range of areas against Yaya Toure of Manchester City, Francis Coquelin of Arsenal and Michael Carrick of Manchester United.

Matic/Coquelin/Carrick/Toure (All stats are on average per game) (Players with * after stat indicates they are the best in that field)

Successful Passes: 54.36/38.50/52.83/72.31*
Pass Completion: 86%/86%/90%*/89%
Chances Created: 0.67/0.23/0.44/1.14*
Key Passes: 0.58/0.23/0.33/1.10*

As you can see, Matic was outperformed in all of these areas by Yaya Toure of Manchester City, who completed more passes at a better rate, created more chances for his teammates and also made more key passes. Michael Carrick also performed well in these areas, and his pass completion is up there with the best. Francis Coquelin matched title-winning Matic in the pass completion stat, but has failed to challenge the Serbian (and all the other midfielder) in any of the other stats.

Let’s see how the four perform against other players on the pitch when it comes to duels, tackles and take-ons.

Aerial Duels Won: 63.56*/63.53%/56.52%/53.73%
Total Duels: 50.81%/54.68%*/52.38%/50.20%
Tackles Won: 2.81*/2.68/1.06/0.79
Sucessful Take-Ons: 78.79%/84.62%*/66.67%/83.61%

This area is where Francis Coquelin and Nemanja Matic come into their own, performing the best in two areas each out of the four midfielders. This is the first part of providing your defence with good protection, and this is what Nemanja Matic is best known for, popping up all over the middle of the park and breaking up the opposition attack, and this shows when you look at the tackles per game stat above.

The next area to look at is also based around protecting the defence behind you, which includes interceptions, blocks and clearances.

Interceptions: 2.03/3.59*/1.72/0.55
Blocks: 0.19/0.36/0.56*/0.17
Clearances: 3.58*/3.09/2.06/0.79

This is an area when Matic and Coquelin go toe-to-toe again. In my opinion, making blocks isn’t crucial to being a good holding midfielder, but it certainly helps, and Matic falls a little behind in this category.

Although Matic and Coquelin fall behind in the first section of stats, based around passing and creating chances, their class stats to show when it comes to protecting the back four by making tackles, interceptions and clearances. Here is a telly based on all of the stats, devised by the following points system. First place is three points, second is two points, third is one point, and fourth is no points.

1) Nemanja Matic 21
2) Francis Coquelin 19
3) Micahel Carrick 15
4) Yaya Toure 13

So, the stats say that Nemanja Matic is the best holding midfielder in the top four, so does that mean he is the best in the Premier League? Let us know your thoughts by tweeting us @FreshFootball.