The official PFA Championship Team of the year featured two Newcastle United players in Dwight Gayle and Jon-Jo Shelvey. There were several names in the team such as Anthony Knockheart that on the face of it, deserve to be there. I have decided to do a stats comparison of the top rated players in their respective position in order to establish which players really were the best performers for the 2016/2017 season.
The rules are as follows: To qualify, a player must have achieved at least 2,500 minutes on the pitch. In order to be considered for a position in my team of the year, the player must also appear in Opta’s Top 10 overall score for the relevant position. I will then break down the player stats relevant to their individual position and compare the results against the rest of the Top 10. This will give us a position-specific Championship top-dog for the season, based on averages per 90 minutes played. The individual stats comparison will be utilised at squawka.com.
Newcastle’s Karl Darlow only placed a mere 8th in the Opta rankings, some 92 points behind 5th placed David Stockdale and therefore does not qualify to be listed for this position. What I found interesting here, was David Stockdale made more saves-per-goal and kept more clean sheets than his peers. However, he also made more defensive errors and more errors that lead to a goal. This suggests to me that he is probably a good instinctive shot stopper, but is lacking in footballing skills. He had his ups and downs, but not steady enough to claim spot in my team of the year.
1 = Ali Al-Habsi (Reading)
2 = David Button (Fulham)
T3= Robert Green (Leeds Utd)
T3= David Stockdale (Brighton)
5 = Kieran Westwood (Sheff Wed)
This one was difficult because players such as Leeds’ Charlie Taylor and Sheffield Wednesday’s Daniel Pudil did not get enough minutes on the pitch to qualify as having had an integral part to their respective teams’ season.
What I found here, was that Paul Dummett came out on top for clearances and discipline. He is very reliable as a defender, but lacking with attacking productivity.
1 = Jordan Obita (Reading)
2 = Chris Lowe (Huddersfield Town)
3 = Scott Malone (Fulham)
4 = Paul Dummett (Newcastle Utd)
5 = Jordan Amavi (Aston-Villa)
This was an intriguing read. Jamaal Lasclles has come in for some criticism this season – and he attempted to vindicate himself at the conclusion of the league by stating that he had been carrying a hernia injury. I could almost accept that excuse IF he had not been shown to be the best in the league at headed duels. If he can leap, he can do everything else? He is an accurate passer of the ball and has a better one-on-one record than his peers. So we know he is imposing and physical, but what surprised me was that his tackle rate stinks and his anticipation is well off par. This indicates to me that he is imposing, passionate and steady, but lacks the intelligence required to reach the upper echelons of the game. Lewis Dunk was steady across the board, but not as steady as Ciaran Clarke, or Leeeds’ Pontus Jansson – who is a behemoth inside his own box and well worth a Premier League signing him up.
1 = Pontus Jansson (Leeds Utd)
2 = Ciaran Clarke (Newcastle Utd)
3 = Lewis Dunk (Brighton & Hove Albion)
4 = Jamaal Lascelles (Newcstle Utd)
5 = Kyle Bartley (Leeds Utd)
For this one, players such as Leeds’ rising star James Bree, Fulham’s Ryan Fredericks and Newcastle pair Andre De Yedlin and Vurnon Anita did not get enough minutes on the pitch to feature in the Top 5. This time there are a couple of surprises from the teams languishing in the bottom half of the table.
1 = Matt Doherty (Wolves)
2 = Luke Ayling (Leeds Utd)
3 = Tommy Smith (Huddersfield Town)
4 = Chris Gunter (Reading)
5 = Eric Lichaj (Notts Forest)
Another very surprising set of results here. Because this is the engine room, I am looking for midfielders that are the full package. Players were marked against both attacking and defensive stats. Jon-Jo Shelvey made it into the EFL team of the year, but I honestly don’t know why. His pass success rate was one of the lowest of his peers, whilst he also had some of the lowest stats for forward passes, which surprised me. Shelvey did come out on top for aerial duels won though and as we know, featured highly in the assists department. If we are looking for midfielders next season, then I’d suggest there are a couple of bargains to be had in the Championship – all rounders that would be massive value for the money paid. I considered breaking these down into one attacking midfielder and one defensive midfielder, however I’m going for a 4-2-3-1 formation, the attacking midfielder role will be addressed later on.
1 = Tom Cairney (Fulham)
2 = Conor Hourihne (Aston Villa)
3 = Jackson Irvine (Burton Albion)
4 = Mathew Palmer (Burton Albion)
5 = Aaron Mooy (Huddersfield Town)
6 = Kevin McDonald (Fulham)
7 = Jon-Jo Shelvey (Newcastle Utd)
8 = Barry Bannan (Sheffield Wednesday)
9 = Danny Williams (Reading)
10 = Stefan Johansen (Fulham)
A lot of the modern day attacking players are so adaptable across the final 3rd of the pitch that you will often see them deployed in different positions from one game to the next, or even redeployed several times during the same game. Therefore, I have not gone with rigid 4-4-2, because it does not really fit the tactics used by the majority of today’s managers. Some good players failed to make the cut for this one, due to lack of game time. They include Jack Grealish, Alex Pritchard, Floyd Ayite, Lucas Piazon and Yanic Wildeschut. Stand by for this one, because there are some shock results. Matt Ritchie was one of the worst performers for take on’s, duels and discipline for example.
1 = Fernando Forestiere (Sheffild Wednesday)
2 = Garath McClearey (Reading)
3 = Helder Costa (Wolves)
4 = Anthony Knockheart (Brighton & Hove)
5 = Tom Ince (Derby County)
6 = Sone Aluko (Fulham)
7 = Matt Ritchie (Newcastle Utd)
8 = Callum Robinson (Preston NE)
9 = Yoan Gouffran (Newcastle Utd)
10 = Kamar Roofe (Leeds Utd)
There was a lot of competition up front, but in sticking with Rafa Benitez’ preferred single striker policy, only one player will make this season’s starting line up. I have done away with the 2,500 minutes rule here, because it would have wiped out half the league’s top scorers, which is not right! Strikers are paid to score goals first and foremost. Although Dwight Gayle’s fitness is a concern, his overall stats are still the best in the league. Talk of moving him on in the summer should be sidelined, pending a massive offer. He would be very useful in Newcastle’s squad for the forthcoming Premier League campaign.
1 = Dwight Gayle (Newcastle Utd)
2 = Yann Kermogant (Reading)
3 = Lasse Vibe (Brentford)
T4 = Chris Wood (Leeds Utd)
T4 = Tammy Abraham (Bristol City)