How good is Yohan Cabaye?

In arriving from French champions Lille on 10th June 2011 for something close to £4.6m, 25 year old Yohan Cabaye entered a realm where not many of the black and white blooded knew much about him.

Little over 6 months later, the 175cm tall, 71kg heavy, box-to-box midfielder has played his way into the hearts of the Geordie public and become an inspirational maestro in his no.4 shirt.


Cabaye has played all 14 of United’s Premier League games, arguably one of the first names pencilled onto Alan Pardew notepad in preparation for fixtures, leaving the field as a sub just six times. He has managed one stunning goal thus far, a belter against Wigan at home, and one ‘official’ assist. He also has to his name four yellow cards and fortunately no red ones!

Defensively, Cabaye stands as a man who ranks up more tackles per game than anyone else at NUFC (4.1 on average) beating his midfield partner Cheik Tiote by nearly one a game. Tiote does outdo him however in the ‘dribble stopping’ stakes; Cabaye presently stops the runners 1.5 times a game compared to the Ivorian’s 1.8.

Argubaly, Cabaye’s best attributes at NUFC are shown in his attacking numbers. The French creator produces the 3rd most passes per game on average after Tiote and Ryan Taylor; all three key to NUFC’s possession game. With his 80.2% pass succession rate, Cabaye manages more ‘key passes’ than any other at the club, (1.7 per game on average) just pipping forward Leon Best, and the most through balls per game (0.2).

Cabaye also produces more crosses than any Newcastle player, ‘whipping’ in 1.3 a game (Simpson next on 0.9) and only Simpson, Colo and Steven Tayor are dispossessed less out of the starting ‘regulars’. However, his goal-getting ability might need a little work; Yohan currently manufactures only 1.2 shots per game, a number equalled by team-newcomer Danny Guthrie, the 6th best in the squad.

In the Premier League:

In comparison to the centre midfield regulars at Nufc’s current rival clubs, Yohan Cabaye doesn’t set the Premier League alight. However, he isn’t a fading soul by any stretch of the imagination either, outperforming some of the so called ‘top players’ in many areas.

Out of the most regular centre midfielders in the other top 7 clubs, Cabaye and Charlie Adam are the only ones to have featured in every game so far. Moreover, behind just Adam and Arteta, Cabaye has created more chances than the rest for his team mates, as well as the third most key passes, again behind those two.

Cabaye also creeps in at third for the amount of times those payers have lost possession, but that’s about as positive as it gets! Only Charlie Adam has a worse percentage for pass succession rate than Cabaye and only Scott Parker wins less aerial 50-50’s. Parker is also the only player to have less goals than Yohan, although the same can be said for Gareth Barry and Phil Jones, and at just one assist, Cabaye sits with a few others as the lowest of the goal providers. Finally, NUFC’s no.4 may rank up most tackles for his club, but in comparison to some of the Premier League’s elite CM’s, his tackle success rate is relative lowly, beating only Parker again.

So, how good is Yohan Cabaye? Well, for Newcastle United he has been a revelation. Alongside Cheik Tiote, Newcastle have one of the best combative centre midfields in the Premier League. Not only that, they play a high number of passes with a fairly decent success rate and notch up the most disturbances for other team in terms of tackling and intercepting.

On the front foot, Cabaye is an integral part of NUFC’s attacking machine. At top key passer and top crosser, Yohan Cabaye is a link that in the current circumstances Newcastle could not survive very well without; although a few more goals and assists would add strength to his repertoire.

Alongside his Premier League counterparts, Cabaye appears to be recording some average figures, but for a player plying his trade in a different country, at a different club and in a different league for the first time, he should hardly be expected to do much more.

Who’s for boarding the Cabaye dreamboat?

48 thoughts on “How good is Yohan Cabaye?

  1. Surprised that in a stats based article you haven’t included the amount of ground he covers?? I think there are only 3 players in the entire Premier League that ran further than dreamboat this season.

    He is leading by example in terms of work rate and, if this seasons performances are anything to go by, the rest of his team mates are following suit.


  2. Great article, love Cabaye, him and Tiote are just a force to be reckoned with!

    Nobby, just about to comment on that.

    Not saying the link has any substance but it’s the type of deal we would do, a good player that’s lost his way a bit i.e. Santon, Ben Arfa.

    Would absolutely love Taiwo, can play CB, LB or CDM. Is an absolute beast of a man and takes a mean free-kick!


  3. ps; you also failed to mention Cabaye’s dreamy freekick against Blackburn in the CC. One of the best I’ve seen in all comps this season!!


  4. Toon chicken,

    I’m aware of the distance covered stats but tend to avoid using them as they are very misleading in my opinion; Roy Keane didn’t cover a great deal of ground but we know how effective he was. But, Lee Cattermole, when at Middlesbrough, covered a ridiculous amount of earth, but was constantly criticised for having terrible positional awareness and a ‘five a side’ attitude!

    With the free kick, completely agree! Although, because the stats I used on the other club players were PL based, it was irrelevant to mention the Carling Cup performances.

    Thanks for the comments 😉



  5. Just been reading up on Taiwo and there could be flames to this smoke as he’s –

    Only 26
    Out of favour with old club

    Fits our mould I think… i’ll email the link to pardew to give him a heads up 😆



    1 year to the day that he took the helm, and will hopefully steer us through this stormy patch we’re about to hit!

    Cheers Alan, so far so good……….



    Nee bother – although for a box-to-box midfielder, I wouldn’t call distance covered stats misleading. If anything I think it underlines just how hard he works for the team. 😉


  8. Back to statistics, I’ve just read NUFC have made more tackles this season than any other club in the Premier League – 302.

    Pretty impressive.


  9. Rod – I think we generally have the majority of possession in games – so I would imagine it’s because we’re not frightened to put the boot in and win it back! 🙂


  10. TC – Nah. Generally we have less of the ball. nufc stats covered it the other day. Our average is 47.9% or something like that.


  11. Well, near on half is OK I suppose. Given that stat, I’d say it’s a bit of both then I.E. we don’t hold onto it for that long, but are persistent enough to win it straight back again! 😆


  12. ….guessing our average possession would be MUCH lower if our team had as little bottle as it has in past seasons then (less tackles), meaning less goals scored and more conceded. I suppose this backs up what I’ve been watching on telly, every player fighting for the ball and committing themselves for 90+ minutes.

    …int stats brilliant!


  13. This Taiwo is getting mentioned in loads of news articles now – could be some substance to it?!?!

    The ronnie gill is hinting to abeid getting some pitch time against norwich. I hope so, I love it when the younguns get a run out. Like I said yesterday the silver lining to injuries is that you get to see how your young players get on in the premier league… you never know they might just surprise us and play a blinder – here’s to hoping 😉 :mrgreen:


  14. Our midfield is actually not as good at retaining the ball as we would like to believe, however Cabaye will only get better and was great value.


  15. Nobby, I reckon Gosling will get the nod mesel. He’s had more game time, Premier League experience and has been waiting longer. Suppose it’s down to how him and Abeid have been performing in training.

    On Taiwo, I reckon it’s just hacks picking out cheapies cos they know how tight Fatty is. I’m sure there’ll be plenty more defenders linked with us over the coming month or so. We’ll see anyway.


  16. Distance is important imo because certain stats just can’t show how effective a player is. If we have Tiote and Cabaye rushing about the pitch, closing people down and even not intercepting themselves or making the tackle it makes it that much harder for the opposition to ever get into threatening positions and makes it more likely we as a team will regain possession.

    Anyway its not really a big deal-great article, doesn’t show how class he’s been for us this season. Tiote and Cabaye are certainly top 4 midfielders. Will they still be here at the end of the season?..


  17. Man, it’s fucking dark in Sheffield already. Considering putting the light on and drawing the curtains. I hate this time of year. 😡


  18. @Rodzilla lol honestly.. isnt Sheffield highly polluted? or was that yrs ago 🙄 .

    I remember camping in sheffield and seeing Leftfield there, ages ago like.. at Sheffield Uni.. the red box i think.. 😆 good auld days. Nice ppl down there 😛

    its lovely and bright up here, off to get a tree for xmas.. Newburn £10 for a real 7footer 😆


  19. Great article , only thing Id say is stats arent always the best way at looking at how good a player is. The reason Fergie got rid of Japp Stam were his stats showed he was in decline and Fergie got rid. Things arent always as black and white with football. But that doesnt take away from a very interesting read!


  20. Toonsy – furry muff but I think it was over 50% before we played the big 3.

    Only getting 36% possession versus Man City certainly didn’t help. 🙁


  21. Mark, it’s got light again 😆

    In the middle of a massive load of sleet clouds that keep drifting over. Sunny now, but will most likely be shite again in 10 minutes. Nah, it seems OK pollution-wise, but I live at the top of a geet massive hill. You can see the smog in the summer but it ain’t that bad. Aye, seen many a band up at the Uni, and had some good neets oot in the Peaks with the tent too. Nice City, moved here 20 years ago now – still here! Good luck with the tree, Nobby says he’ll sit on top of it for a Pek pork sarnie and a bottle of Tizer. 😛


  22. Johno, true but then the author is called NUFC STATS. That pretty much gives away how he is going to deliver an article! Our very own little robot…. Gives us a different tint on how we see things and makes our icture of all things NUFC a little more rounded when you add this sort of work to that delivered by all the other writers here… 😀


  23. Shamrock I certainly wasnt having a go, I love all the stats. I could read them all day. I was just answering his question about how good cabaye is based on stats


  24. Oh yeah fair enough dude 🙂 Another thing with stats – A player can only produce so much depending on the ability of those around them. If Cabaye was in Man City’s team for example, his stats would shoot up as those around him would be on the same wave length…

    So although he may not look a world beater according to these stats, perhaps we should be asking just how good the rest of our midfield actually is ❓


  25. I love fridays like… worr lass is oot for her works christmas do so i get to go out for a curry… Chicken Madras please squire!

    Technically I live in newburn (i say technically because if you look at my flat you’d say i was in walbottle but my address is officially newburn) so that won’t be too far from the truth rod… not sure if me arse’ll hurt more from me curry or the xmas tree. 😆


  26. Cabayes been playing as the defensive midfielder since Tiotes injury, if you split the games from before the injury and afterwards you’ll prob come up with different stats …….


  27. Steve – Actually before Tiote was injured Cabaye was still tackling more than the big man! However, Tiote would cover almost as much ground and is great at reading the ball and positioning himself in the right place to stop attacks with mere presence…


  28. Rod, sounds lovely m8 😎

    Nobby.. Rod reckons you like little pekka pork swords?? some funny old folk on this blog 😆

    Aye, had a smashing time in Sheffield, it was in the keegan ‘entertainers’ time, partied with some Sheff wed fans, we had mass-respect then, ppl would actually approach you once they heard your accent and only wanted to talk about footy, mainly Toons footy 😆


  29. nufc_stats – Carrying on in the same vein as this article – I’d love to see some figures based on our wingers compared to the other clubs in the league. i.e successful dribbles/passes/crosses etc.

    I know Jonas is busy defending, but would love to know exactly what he and Obertan offer to us moving forward. I know they draw players out of position, but I feel we dont have a single player at the club that can actually take the ball out wide and consistently deliver a good cross. We are lacking in that respect and I feel players like Demba Ba would relish such service. It is a part of our game we need to improve…

    Do the figures back up my theory Mr. Stat?!


  30. In echoing Toonchicken@1 , one word “class”.

    The good thing is, I think there is much more to come from Cabaye and we will see it as the team grows with the talent we have and will purchase.

    We have seen what he’s capable of in a defensive midfield role , plus what he’s capable of with his vision and passing.

    We also know he possesses a great shot on target and this is where he will get better as time goes on because he will be afforded the time to get into these positions the more comfortable we become on the ball, because usually we do spend a lot of time breaking up play with Cabaye a mainstay in amongst that.

    If we can hold onto him and build around him, I think we have the ingredient to forage ahead in the not too distant future.


  31. Taiwo looks class, would be a great addition to our already solid defence… Are Nigeria in the cup of nations though??!

    Anyway, back to Cabaye, and more impressing stats my friend. In particular the defensive side to his game. I feel less concerned about Tiote and Guthrie being out and playing Gosling alongside Cabaye and playing him more defensively.
    The one thing the stats dont measure is Cabayes attitude. He doesn’t seem money pissed, he seems to love football and is totally committed to club and country, and that’s the secret.
    My favourite toon player of my time is Rob Lee, and Cabaye reminds me of him in many ways.
    Cabaye is a player who can inspire players around him, a bit like Gerrard at Liverpool. If we are under the cosh in a game he can pick a pass or make a run or hit a 30 yrd rasper that makes everyone else thing, right, with this kid in the team we have a chance. The freekick against Blackburn being a perfect example.
    In my opinion, he, Colo, Taylor and Krul have been inspirational this season. Cabayes partner in crime Tiote has been linked with a £20m move, for me that wouldn’t buy Cabayes boots, I rate him that highly.


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