Here is a list of the top 10 players to have completed the most passes in the final third in the Premier League season:
10. Michael Carrick (Manchester United) – 253 Completed Passes, 76% Accuracy, 1 Assist
Often criticised for not being a creative midfield, Michael Carrick’s role in the Manchester United side as a central midfielder has seen him play numerous short passes in order for the side to keep possession. The £18.6 million signing from Tottenham in 2006 does offer his support up field, again often completing short passes in a cautious push forward into the final third. Carrick’s solo assist this season came on a pass to Robin van Persie whose deflected effort gave the Red Devils a 1-0 victory over West Ham United at the end of November.
9. Leighton Baines (Everton) – 259 Completed Passes, 76% Accuracy, 1 Assist
The Everton left back has had success in bombing forward this season, both in and out of possession waiting down the left wing for the ball. For all his crosses and passes into the box, Leighton Baines does only have 2 assists to his name so far this season and one of those came from a set piece. Still, a number of his balls into the box have led to goals which don’t appear on the stats sheet. Only Luis Suarez has won more corner than Baines to this point as the Everton man has had a really productive first half of the season.
8. Juan Mata (Chelsea) – 261 Completed Passes, 81% Accuracy, 4 Assists
Perhaps I was being a bit premature when I said Santi Cazorla was the best player in the Premier League earlier this season. Since then, the Arsenal playmaker hasn’t been as productive and the Spanish Chelsea star is certainly top of the pack right now. There seemingly isn’t a pass the Chelsea playmaker cannot play and Juan Mata is at the heart of most of Chelsea’s successful attacks. He even scored at the weekend. Difficult to defend against, few players have a better passing accuracy in the final third in this list than Mata, and only one player has more than the 4 assists he has in open player.
7. Mikel Arteta (Arsenal) – 277 Completed Passes, 86% Accuracy, 2 Assists
With Santi Cazorla playing ahead of him in the Arsenal formation, Mikel Arteta plays a more withdrawn role as a central midfielder. However, the Spaniard is still involved in a number of attacks, albeit often the player making a short pass outside the opposition penalty area. Arteta still has 2 assists to his name and is an important player in the current Gunners team.
6. Steven Pienaar (Everton) – 281 Completed Passes, 77% Accuracy, 3 Assists
Proving to be a great signing by David Moyes (despite paying 50% more than they sold him for 18 months prior, and now 30 years of age), Everton have had a lot of success through Steven Pienaar and Leighton Baines teaming up down the left wing. The former South African international has created more chances in open play than any other player in this list (only Luis Suarez has created more to date). He attempts the odd run at defenders too.
5. David Silva (Manchester City) – 281 Completed Passes, 77% Accuracy, 1 Assist
An injury at the start of the season has meant David Silva has only started 10 of Manchester City’s 15 games this season. His 889 minutes are the fewest of any player in this list. Still, the Spanish star has had enough time to complete 281 passes in the final third this season and one can only imagine him shooting to the top of the list as soon as he catches up on time. A master of the Spanish Tiki-taka style, Silva is also very ambitious with a number of his through balls and threading passes through the eye of a needle at times.
4. Steven Gerrard (Liverpool) – 294 Completed Passes, 78% Accuracy, 0 Assists
The Liverpool captain is the only player on this list yet to register a single assist in open play this season despite completing 294 passes in the final third. Mind you, if you’re not passing to Luis Suarez at Liverpool you’re very unlikely to register an assist. Gerrard is the only other player to have scored more than 1 goal after 15 games for Brendan Rodgers’ side. The England Centurion is still doing his best for the cause with forward runs and finding team mates in and around the penalty area, as the stats show.
3. Yaya Toure (Manchester City) – 323 Completed Passes, 77% Accuracy, 1 Assist
Manchester City’s powerful central midfielder does not appear to be making as bigger impact as he did last season, particularly at the end of last season. Yaya Toure hasn’t lacked in memorable, powerful bursting runs, and only has 2 goals (compared to 6 in each of the previous 2). Perhaps Roberto Mancini is holding him back until the final few months of the season. However, Yaya Toure has completed more passes than all but 2 players in the final third this season and Manchester City are within 3 points of the leaders.
2. Eden Hazard (Chelsea) – 345 Completed Passes, 81% Accuracy, 5 Assists
The Belgian forward made an instant impact at Stamford Bridge following his massive money summer switch from Lille OSC. He has quietened down a little since then, not winning penalties and only registering 1 assist in the Premier League since August. Eden Hazard is still a big threat to defences, taking players on and often winning free kicks (41 – the most in the Premier League in fact). Perhaps if he had a better target up front other than Fernando Torres his stats would be even better. Hazard leads the league in open play assists.
1. Santi Cazorla (Arsenal) – 411 Completed Passes, 84% Accuracy, 2 Assists
The Spanish signing from cash-strapped Malaga CF is certainly helping to fill in the gap left by Cesc Fabregas as the key playmaker in the Arsenal midfield. Santi Cazorla has looked impressive since he arrived at the Emirates, although has been kept quiet in Arsenal’s last three Premier League games, coincidentally with the Gunners picking up just two points and scoring one goal during that period. Cazorla has an amazing range of passes and a good long range shot on him.
*Completed Passes = final third only, Accuracy = final third only, Assists = open play only