Statistical Analysis: Top 5 Newcomers To The Championship

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With the 2015/16 Championship  season less than two weeks away I look into the stats surrounding some of the leagues new players and compare them to last seasons top performers to produce my list of top 5 newcomers.

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1) Andreas Bjelland (CB) – Brentford

Earlier this month Brentford confirmed the signing of Danish centre-back Andreas Bjelland from FC Twente. The Bees boss Marinus Dijkhuizen had to shell out £2.1m (€3m) for the 6ft 2 defender who has been capped 21 times for the Denmark national team. During his 59 Eredivisie appearances for FC Twente, Bjelland played 5179 minutes from which he picked up an average rating of 7.23 per game. Last season saw the Dane wear the armband for FC Twente with which he turned out 26 times, seeing his team finish up 10th in the Eredivisie. Despite a season interrupted by injury and suspension he will no doubt be a big miss for the Enschede club.

Bjelland’s Eredivisie 2014/15 statistics per 90 minutes (2014/15 Championship ranking)

Average rating: 7.27 (11)

Tackles won: 1.3 (25)

Aerial duels won: 5.2 (2)

Interceptions: 2.6 (15)

Clearances: 6.9 (20)

Shots blocked: 0.4 (35)

Dribbled past: 0.4 (14)

Accurate long balls: 5.9 (2)

Accurate short passes: 45.7 (1)

Key passes: 0.5 (1)

Fouls: 1.2 (27)

Yellow cards: 0.2 (11)

Red Cards: 0 (1)

Total goals scored: 3 (9)

Total assists: 3 (2)

*statistics are compared with those who played more than 25 games as a central defender in the 2014/15 Championship season (35 players)
*disciplinary stats are ranked lowest to highest
*goals and assists are not represented per 90 minutes

 

How does Bjelland compare to the Championship’s top performers?

To put the stats presented above into some context a comparison between Bjelland and PFA team of the year centre-backs Russell Martin (Norwich) and Richard Keogh (Derby) show that Brentford may have struck gold with this player. Brentford’s new man convincingly ranked higher than both players in all four key defensive areas compared, and winning 67% of aerial duels is a stat too good to ignore for teams coming up against him this season.

IMAGE 1 - bjelland vs martin vs keogh

Overall verdict

It appears as though Brentford have secured themselves a more than capable centre-back in Andreas Bjelland. The transfer fee paid swings towards the term ‘great value for money’ when looking at this deal statistically as Marinus Dijkhuizen has bagged his team a defender who is dominant in the air and a very efficient passer of the ball. The only concerning stat displayed is blocked shots, but Brentford fans need not worry as Bjelland’s tackle success exceeds that of the PFA centre-backs of the year whilst his contribution to team goals is yet another hopeful sign for the upcoming season.

 

2) Tjaronn Chery (AM) – Queens Park Rangers

The 27 year old Dutchman joined QPR from Eredivisie side FC Groningen after the London club activated his release clause thought to be in the region of £2.25m. Chery, an attacking midfielder, spent two seasons at FC Groningen where he made 69 appearances netting on 25 occasions giving him an impressive record of 2.7 games per goal and an average rating of 7.27.

Chery’s Eredivisie 2014/15 statistics per 90 minutes (2014/15 Championship ranking)

Average rating: 7.22 (17)

Accurate short passes: 32.6 (36)

Key passes: 1.8 (22)

Total assists: 6 (12)

Shots on target: 1.9 (1)

Total goals scored: 15 (1)

Goals scored outside the box: 5 (2)

Contribution to team goals: 31% (1)

Successful dribbles: 0.7 (33)

Unsuccessful touches: 1.7 (50)

Dispossessed: 2 (59)

*statistics are compared with those who played more than 15 games as a AM(C) or M(R/L/C) in the 2014/15 Championship season (69 players)
*unsuccessful touches/dispossessed stats are ranked lowest to highest
*goals and assists are not represented per 90 minutes

 

How does Chery compare to the Championship’s top performers?

As predominantly a centre attacking midfielder Chery is best compared to PFA team of year midfielder Alex Pritchard, as well as Jonny Howson who achieved an average rating of 7.25 as an attacking midfielder with play-off winners Norwich City. QPR are likely to use Chery as a forward minded player, so comparing goal scoring, assisting and chance creating ability shows the Dutchman as more than capable of contributing highly. Beaten by the Tottenham player Pritchard on chances created only, Chery appears to offer plenty in front of goal. One would think that if he can keep up the ‘0.45 goals per 90 minutes’ form he will be contributing a large percentage to Rangers’ goal tally this season.

IMAGE 2 - Chery vs Pritchard vs Howson

Overall verdict

After mulling over his Groningen stats you can’t help but think £2.25m is great business for a player of Tjaronn Chery’s calibre. The only test will be how he adapts to English game as well as his role within Chris Ramsey’s squad. The anomaly, if you like, from the stats is his ball control which rank in the 50’s suggesting an unlikely role as playmaker but rather an end product style of player. We will have to wait and see how this ties in with the QPR system and what role Ramsey assigns the attacking midfielder. All in all QPR fans should anticipate exciting performances from this guy.

 

3) Sammy Ameobi (LW) – Cardiff City

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The Newcastle United academy product will play his football at Cardiff City this season after a loan move was agreed between the two clubs. The 23 year old winger turned a few heads in the Premier League last season with some dazzling performances, something Russell Slade will hope he can replicate in the upcoming competition. One would assume his rather large 6ft 4 frame would limit his agility and balance as a winger but Ameobi shows prolific dribbling and crossing ability, whilst obviously offering an outlet in the air out wide. The English youngster made 25 appearances for Newcastle last season averaging a rating of 7.07 and scoring his first goals for the club in a hard fought season.

Ameobi’s Premier League 2014/15 statistics per 90 minutes (2014/15 Championship ranking)

Average rating: 7.07 (7)

Shots on target: 0.3 (14)

Total goals scored: 2 (7)

Dribbles: 6.7 (1)

Successful dribbles: 3.2 (1)

Unsuccessful touches: 2.4 (15)

Dispossessed: 2.2 (12)

Aerial duels won: 3.7 (1)

Accurate long balls: 1.1 (12)

Accurate short passes: 20.4 (11)

Accurate crosses: 1.1 (8)

Key passes: 1.3 (12)

Total assists: 2 (10)

*statistics are compared with those who played more than 15 games at M/AM (L) in the 2014/15 Championship season (16 players)
*unsuccessful touches/dispossessed stats are ranked lowest to highest
*goals and assists are not represented per 90 minutes

 

How does Ameobi compare to the Championship’s top performers?

Ameobi is likely to be used solely as a left winger and to put last season’s efforts into context a comparison to the Championship’s highest rated in this position Michail Antonio, and Bournemouth’s Marc Pugh show that Cardiff’s new man isn’t far off in some key areas. The Newcastle players Premier League form isn’t far behind that of Antonio’s Championship form with near enough 48% of successful take ons, 1.2 key passes and 1.3 chances created every 90 minutes. Marc Pugh being the most efficient of the three in this case highlights the level of performance related to a league winning campaign, and although Cardiff won’t be too concerned in chasing automatic promotion Ameobi certainly seems to be more than capable. If the 6ft 4 winger can bring similar form to the Championship his assist record is sure to rise, add his towering stature to the equation and he will no doubt provide a useful outlet for Cardiff this season, as 50% of the time Ameobi rises above his man to win the header.

IMAGE 3 - Ameobi vs Antonio vs Pugh

Overall verdict

The Newcastle loanee is a very capable winger who showed glimpses of brilliance in the Premier League last season. A glance at the stats highlights what Russell Slade’s intentions are with Ameobi as a winger with sound dribbling stats which combined with his pace he is likely to be used as the link to Kenwyne Jones, Alex Revell and Eoin Doyle. With no Cardiff players reaching double figures in the assists tally last season, Ameobi would be a sure bet to change that this season as well as bagging the odd goal poaching the back post with his aerial dominance. With the wingers stay initially set to just the one season Cardiff will want to utilise his services this campaign to challenge for the play-offs, as the now 30 year old Peter Whittingham is likely to feature mainly in a central role. Although only a temporary addition to the squad this transfer signals a step in the right direction for Cardiff City.

 

4) Stewart Downing (RW) – Middlesbrough

The move of Stewart Downing to Middlesbrough is no doubt the biggest coup of the Championship transfer window this far. Aitor Karanka sealed the signing of the 31 year old English winger from West Ham for an initial fee of £5.5m which could rise to as much as £7m if Boro achieve promotion. Downing was once established on the international stage earning 35 caps for the England national team and his average rating of 7 last season would suggest he is to boost Middlesbrough’s chances of reaching the Premier League.

Downing’s Premier League 2014/15 statistics per 90 minutes (2014/15 Championship ranking)

Average rating: 7 (29)

Shots on target: 0.5 (29)

Total goals scored: 6 (12)

Goals scored outside of the box: 3 (6)

Successful dribbles: 0.6 (42)

Unsuccessful touches: 0.7 (1)

Dispossessed: 0.7 (1)

Accurate long balls: 3.1 (5)

Accurate short passes: 31.1 (10)

Accurate crosses: 2.2 (6)

Accurate corners: 1.3 (5)

Key passes: 2.3 (13)

Total assists: 8 (5)

*statistics are compared with those who played more than 15 games at M/AM (R/L) in the 2014/15 Championship season (51 players)
*unsuccessful touches/dispossessed stats are ranked lowest to highest
*goals and assists are not represented per 90 minutes

How does Downing compare to the Championship’s top performers?

It’s fair to say Matt Ritchie set the standard for right wingers in the Championship last season and it’s shown through his stats and 15 goals as he bagged a place in team of the year as well as an average rating of 7.4. Downing, however certainly shows signs of Premier League standard in terms of much higher passing quality and chances created which in the Championship you’d imagine would result in more assists, nipping at the heels of Ritchie’s form. When compared to Middlesbrough’s right sided midfielder from last season Downing is considerably more effective, excluding shot accuracy, so you would assume he will replace Albert Adomah in this position.

IMAGE 4 - Downing vs Ritchie vs Adomah

Overall verdict

Downing’s £5.5m transfer to the Championship will have raised a lot of eyebrows this summer but Aitor Karanka, the fans and everyone at the club are no doubt delighted as the winger returns to his boyhood club. Although now 31, Downing is set for a thumping return to the Championship as his ability to create chances will put Middlesbrough in amongst the race of automatic promotion. The Englishman’s ball control and passing accuracy stats are something to admire so expect to see Downing high up the assists chart this season with the odd goal here and there, his presence will no doubt boost the whole squads morale as well. The only uncertainty is how Karanka will utilise Downing as either s wide or more central player, either way he’s very much a big fish in a small pond.

 

5) Tomer Hemed (ST) – Brighton & Hove Albion

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The Seagulls added Israeli international Tomer Hemed to their strike-force earlier this window. The 6ft 2 centre-forward joined from La Liga side Almeria for an undisclosed fee rumoured to be in the region of £1m. Chris Hughton will be hoping that the 27 year old can provide similar form to that of Leonardo Ulloa who also made the move from Almeria to Brighton just two years ago which saw him go on to score 23 goals during his 18 month stay, bagging near enough a goal every 2 games.

Hemed’s La Liga 2014/15 statistics per 90 minutes (2014/15 Championship ranking)

Average rating: 6.68 (37)

Shots: 2.7 (24)

Headed shots: 1 (9)

Shots on target: 1.1 (15)

Total goals scored: 8 (21)

Goals scored inside six-yard box: 3 (12)

Headed goals: 2 (15)

Contribution to team goals: 28% (4)

Dribbles: 1.8 (19)

Successful dribbles: 0.6 (19)

Unsuccessful touches: 2 (8)

Dispossessed: 1.7 (15)

Aerial duels won: 4.2 (9)

Accurate short passes: 13.5 (34)

Key passes: 0.5 (43)

Total assists: 4 (11)

*statistics are compared with those who played more than 15 games as ST (C) in the 2014/15 Championship season (43 players)
*unsuccessful touches/dispossessed stats are ranked lowest to highest
*goals and assists are not represented per 90 minutes

 

How does Hemed compare to the Championship’s top performers?

Relegated from La Liga with Almeria, Hemed joins the league which saw strikers Daryl Murphy and Patrick Bamford pick up top goal scorer (27) and Championship player of the season, respectively. Unsurprisingly the Brighton striker is out scored on goals per 90 minutes but does pip both players on assists and aerial duels won, all important attributes to the centre-forward role. It is worth noting that the Israeli international finds the target with near enough 50% of his shots and the step down from La Liga is likely to see that goal tally rocket over the coming season. Whether he can reach the heights Murphy did in the previous campaign is what Brighton fans will be anxiously anticipating with the season just around the corner.

IMAGE 5 - Hemed vs Murphy vs Bamford

Overall verdict

The experience Tomer Hemed brings with him is what Chris Hughton will be most impressed by, having played on the international stage as well as in La Liga. Considering that Hemed was part of a relegated side his stats show that he held his own in a very good league, and his contribution of 28% to team goals is really put into context when compared to Bamford’s 25% for Middlesbrough. The centre-forward shows capability in the air as well as with ball control and if provided a strike partner should not only score but create plenty of goals through these attributes. Hemed looks to be what Brighton were missing last season to finally fill that hole left by Leanardo Ulloa, and a goal every 2 games is what he’s got to do to match his predecessor. With a transfer fee reported to be in the region of £1m it’s a fairly risk free signing which should end up being good value for money, good business from Brighton.

*All stats included were sourced from whoscored.com
*Player comparison graphics were sourced from squawka.com/comparison-matrix