Premier League’s Best Passers

The Premier League is home to a number of very technically gifted players with a vision and the accuracy to make a pass.  This is certainly on display when the likes of Manchester United, Manchester City and Arsenal are on display, with each of those sides often televised.

Santi Cazorla

Arsenal’s Santi Cazorla has been a welcomed addition to the Premier League this season.  The Spanish midfielder who arrived from Málaga CF has shown an array of passes with great accuracy.  His production has started to slow down as the weather gets colder.  Two players that top most people’s vote for the best passing accuracy in England’s top flight are often Chelsea’s Juan Mata and Manchester City’s David Silva.

Santi Cazorla is currently completing 88.5% of his passes per game in an Arsenal shirt, averaging 2.6 key passes per game which puts him near the top in both categories.  Juan Mata is average the same number of key passes per game, with the Chelsea playmaker’s pass completion at 86.8% in the Premier League.  After returning from an injury at the start of the season, David Silva is also making 2.6 key passes per game for his team mates, with an 84.5% pass completion rate with the Manchester City star often trying to thread the needle in the opposition penalty area.

Swansea City and Liverpool have notably had a focus on possession football; both of these sides are in the top 5 for both possession and passing accuracy this season, joined by Manchester United, Manchester City and Arsenal – 3 clubs who finished in the top four last season.

With passing statistics being very popular, here are the players who are leading in those key categories:

Assists

Wayne Rooney (Manchester United) – 7 Assists
After dropping further down the park this season, now seen playing off the striker or on the left wing, Wayne Rooney has been a real source of goals for Manchester United in the Premier League this season.  His brace at Manchester City over the weekend took his goal tally to 6 on the season – half as many as leader Michu.  But it is the 7 assists recorded by the England star so far this season that has caught the eye.  Whether it be directly from a corner or in open player, Wayne Rooney is connecting well with Robin van Persie and co to setup goals for the Premier League leaders.

Eden Hazard (Chelsea) – 6 Assists
The Premier League’s most expensive signing of the summer made an instant impact in his first 3 games by winning penalties and setting up goals as Chelsea won took a maximum 9 points.  A 0-0 at Loftus Road later and Eden Hazard’s production wasn’t as healthy.  The Belgian remains top of the Most Fouled list, notably taking a few kicks from opposition as well as taking a tumble.  The back-to-back Ligue 1 Player of the Year continues to create chances game after game for his fellow Blues and is just 1 assist behind Wayne Rooney.

Juan Mata (Chelsea) – 6 Assists
On par with his fellow team mate, Juan Mata is the only other player to have recorded at least 6 assists through 16 games.  The Spaniard who takes most of the set pieces down at Stamford Bridge also terrorises defences in open play.  Quick-feet and an eye for a pass, Juan Mata is touted as the best player in the Premier League by many.

 Premier League 2012/13 Assists

Key Passes

Leighton Baines (Everton) – 3.6 Key Passes per Game
The Everton left back has been bombing down the channel all season and for his entire career under David Moyes in fact.  He continues to slowly gain popularity with the nation, particularly after Everton made a good start to the season as he pushes Ashley Cole for a starting spot in the England squad.  Creating chances in both open play and from his dead balls, Leighton Baines has seen 2 of his key passes turned into goals this season.

Nicky Shorey (Reading) – 3.3 Key Passes per Game
It is Reading’s left back who makes the list in second position.  Ian Harte started the first 3 games of the season for the Royals but since Nick Shorey has come into the team, the two-time England international has been creating chances for his team mates.  Aided by some poor Manchester United defending, Shorey grabbed himself 2 assists from corners in their 4-3 defeat at the start of the month to double his tally on the season.

Adel Taarabt (Queens Park Rangers) – 2.8 Key Passes per Game
Queens Park Rangers’ Moroccan playmaker caught a lot of attention during their 2010/11 Championship winning season.  Adel Taarabt wasn’t the most productive during their first season in which they avoided relegation on the final day thanks to Stoke City’s victory over Bolton.  Taarabt’s lack of determination of the ball was particularly highlighted in the Premier League; something he’d been able to get away with in the second tier.  A much brighter start for the player rather than the club this season, but for all the chances created, Adel Taarabt has only seen a team mate stick the ball in the back of the net twice from one of his passes.

Premier League 2012/13 Key Passes per Game

Number of Passes

Michael Carrick (Manchester United) – 87.9 Passes per Game
Sitting in the middle of the park for the league leaders, Manchester United’s Michael Carrick attempts the most passes per game in the Premier League.  Often playing a short pass between his fellow midfielders or pushing into the final third to find one of the attacking players, Carrick has completed 88.7% of his attempts so far this season.  Manchester United rank third in possession in the league and top the passing accuracy.  Their former England international midfielder is a big part of that.

Mikel Arteta (Arsenal) – 87.1 Passes per Game
Since arriving at the Emirates on transfer deadline day at the start of last season, Mikel Arteta has made a number passes in the middle of the Arsenal midfield.  The Spaniard pushes forward in attacks and has registered 2 assists for team mates this season, playing behind the club’s main playmaker, Santi Cazorla, as well as the simple passes in the centre of the pitch to team mates close by.

Yaya Touré (Manchester City) – 82.3 Passes per Game
Some pundits have claimed that Yaya Touré isn’t making as bigger impact in the Premier League this season as he did last.  Noticeably saying the big Ivorian doesn’t push forward as often.  Perhaps that is because Manchester City’s FA Cup hero of two seasons ago and the scorer of a couple of vital goals at the end of last season has created as much drama so far this time around.  However, Yaya Touré continues to play a pivotal role in the City first team, pushing forward to setup 2 goals and scoring 3 himself.

Premier League 2012/13 Passes per Game

Pass Success

Per Mertesacker (Arsenal) – 92.8% Pass Accuracy
A master of quick one-twos with team mates in his own half, Per Mertesacker is the most efficient passer in the Premier League when it comes to completing them.  The tall German centre back isn’t so ambitious, and although being careless at times defensively, opts to play simple passes the majority of the time.  Averaging 59.1 passes per game, a large number of these are inside his own half with no or little pressure being put on him.

Mikel Arteta (Arsenal) – 92.7% Pass Accuracy
As well as attempting some of the most passes per game in the Premier League, Mikel Arteta is second to only his German team mate when it comes to completing them.  The Spaniard attempts a higher number of passes per game, as well as getting forward and completing some of them in tight situations or ambitiously.

Chico (Swansea City) – 92.4% Pass Accuracy
There has been quite a Spanish theme to this article and it concludes with Swansea City’s new centre back signing over the summer, Chico.  Playing in a team that has made a reputation on short passes and keeping possession since their promotion into last season’s Premier League, the Spaniard has upheld this tradition alongside club captain Ashley Williams.

Premier League 2012/13 Passing Accuracy

*Key Passes = The final pass or pass-come-shot leading to the recipient of the ball having an attempt at goal without scoring.

The top 5 leaders in each of the 4 categories:

Premier League 2012/13 Top 5 Passing Categories
*Carlos Tévez also has 5 assists this season
**Paul Scholes has also completed 92.2% of his passes

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