Recently, more and more teams in the Premier League are choosing to play a 4-3-3 formation instead of the traditional 4-4-2 and this change in formation has helped to create a new position on the pitch – the wide forward.
Wide forwards are players who are looking to penetrate the oppositions defence and score rather than the traditional winger who is looking to cross the ball or create a chance for their team. These sorts of players have become vital in recent times, especially with teams playing one striker now instead of two.
This has shown during the transfer window with the signings of Scott Sinclair and Victor Moses and the interest in players such as Daniel Sturridge, Nani and Theo Walcott.
So we have decided to look at these wide forwards and find out who performed the best last season. We start our comparison by looking at each players shooting statistics from the 2011/2012 Premier League season.
Victor Moses had 103 shots for Wigan last season, which was more than any other player in this comparison. However, Moses played more minutes than any other player so to make this fair we have looked at how many minutes it took for each player to have a shot last season.
Daniel Sturridge had a shot more often than any other player in this comparison, as he had a shot every 24 minutes last season. This was compared to Moses who had a shot every 31 minutes, Nani and Sinclair who had a shot every 32 minutes and Walcott who had a shot every 36 minutes last season.
It is all well and good having a lot of shots for your team but it is even more important to get your shots on target. Theo Walcott had a shot on target every 61 minutes, which was 10 minutes more often than Sturridge, 46 minutes more often than Moses, 50 minutes more often than Nani and 64 minutes more often than Sturridge.
Walcott finished the season with a 59% shooting accuracy, with Sturridge (44%), Moses (43%), Sinclair (40%) and Nani (39%) all having a similar percentage of their shots on target.
Sturridge impressed the most in terms of goals last season as he scored more goals than the other players and also had the best minutes per goal ratio.
Sturridge found the back of the net 11 times last season, which was 3 more times than Nani, Walcott and Sinclair and 5 times more than his new teammate Moses. Sturridge also scored a goal every 205 minutes last season, which compared to Nani (264), Walcott (343), Sinclair (390) and Moses who scored a goal every 536 minutes is quite impressive.
Wide Forwards: Passing
The second area that we are looking at is passing and in particular how often each player made a pass last season, how accurate they were with their passes and how often they played a through ball.
Nani made a pass every 2 minutes last season, which was a lot more frequent than Sturridge who made a pass every 3.2 minutes, Walcott and Sinclair who made a pass every 3.3 minutes and Moses who made a pass every 3.5 minutes.
Scott Sinclair was the most accurate passer though, as 86% of his passes found a teammate last season. This was 4% more accurate than Sturridge, 5% more accurate than Moses, 6% more accurate than Nani and 7% more accurate than Walcott.
Daniel Sturridge played a through ball every 151 minutes last season, which was more often than Nani (every 211 minutes), Sinclair (every 284 minutes), Walcott (every 305 minutes) and Moses who played a through ball every 1609 minutes last season.
Sturridge also made an accurate through ball more frequently than everyone else last season, as he played an accurate through ball every 454 minutes. This was 74 minutes more often than Nani, 587 minutes more often than Sinclair and 920 minutes more often than Walcott. Victor Moses failed to make one accurate through ball all of last season.
Wide Forwards: Creativity
The third area we are looking at is how creative each player was last season. In theory their creativity stats should be low as they will be focusing more on taking players on and having a shot rather than looking to set up a chance for their teammates. However, if teams can find a player that can score a lot of goals as well as creating a lot of chances then they have found themselves the perfect wide player.
Nani created a chance every 31 minutes for Manchester United last season, which was more often than any other player in this comparison. He created a chance 36 minutes more often than Walcott, 47 minutes more often than Moses, 60 minutes more often than Sturridge and 70 minutes more often than Sinclair.
However, Theo Walcott created more clear cut chances than all the other players as well as creating a clear cut chance more often than all the other players. Walcott created a clear cut chance every 250 minutes, while Nani created a clear cut chance every 352 minutes, Moses (643), Sturridge (756) and Sinclair who created a clear cut chance every 1041 minutes last season.
As well as creating chances the most frequently last season, Nani also got an assist more often than any of the other players. Nani assisted a goal every 211 minutes last season, which was 122 minutes more often than Walcott, 545 minutes more often than Sturridge, 570 minutes more often than Sinclair and 3006 minutes more often than Moses.
Wide Forwards: Dribbling/Crossing
The final area we will be looking at is each players dribbling and crossing statistics from last season. We are expecting the wide forwards to have impressive dribbling statistics but not so impressive crossing statistics as they will be less likely to cross the ball.
Victor Moses attempted to dribble the ball every 15 minutes last season, which was 7 minutes more often than Sinclair, 12 minutes more often than Nani and Walcott and 22 minutes more often than Sturridge. Nani was the most accurate dribbler though, as he was accurate with 20% more of his dribbles than Sinclair, 22% more accurate than Moses, 23% more accurate than Sturridge and 33% more accurate than Walcott.
Nani also crossed the ball every 10 minutes last season, which was 11 minutes more often than Walcott, 25 minutes more often than Moses, 27 minutes more often than Sturridge and 46 minutes more often than Sinclair. Moses was the most accurate with his crosses though, as 25% of them found a teammate. This was compared to Sinclair who completed 23% of his crosses, Nani who completed 22%, Walcott who completed 13% and Sturridge who completed 11%.
Walcott and Moses both won 3 penalties for their teams last season, while Nani and Sturridge won 1 and Sinclair who didn’t win any.
What this comparison has shown us is that Nani is more of an all-round player than a wide forward as he has consistent stats in all of the areas. As well as scoring 8 goals, Nani also created 68 chances, 6 clear-cut chances and got 10 assists. This begs the question why would Sir Alex Ferguson want to get rid of Nani when he brings so much to the team?
Daniel Sturridge impresses in terms of what teams are looking for in a wide forward as he had a better minutes to goals ratio than any of the other players as well as making more overall and accurate through balls per minute than any of the other players.
It is also interesting to see why Roberto Di Matteo decided to go out and buy Victor Moses when he already has Daniel Sturridge at his disposal. Sturridge scored 330 minutes more often than Moses last season, played a through ball 1458 minutes more often than Moses and both players had very similar shooting accuracy percentages and passing statistics.
The only real reason that I can see for the signing of Moses is for his dribbling and crossing. Moses attempted a dribble 22 minutes more often than Sturridge and found a teammate with 14% more of his crosses. If this is the case then Moses may not be used as a wide forward this season but more of an out-and-out winger.
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