This article was written by @ballnotabomb.
Football’s finally back. It may not feel quite the same without Gary Lineker’s smug face presenting with a bunch of tepid ball bags at around 11 o’ clock, but for 72 of the 92 clubs in league football in this country, there was the normal mix of excitement and nerves.
Of course, as with most good things, there are far more questions than answers. Will he cut it in this league? Will he adapt? Is he any good? Is he really that shit?
Thanks to WhoScored.com, a few of these can be answered, but obviously create a few more unanswerable questions.
Arguably Q.P.R’s second best player the last time they were in the league, behind the brilliant-but-punchable Adel Taarabt. He settled in like he’d never been away and made 10 tackles and 2 key passes, a decent performance for any midfielder. If Harry Redknapp had kept him in January instead of shipping him out to Palermo, Q.P.R might not even be this situation. But Jermaine Jenas was a hit, right?
6 tackles, 5 key passes and he’s still only 18 years old. Most people know Will Hughes’ name by now, but it’s always nice when statistics back up your subjective view of a player. You know how people keep banging on about how we need to produce technical players in England? Will Hughes is that player. Enjoy it Derby, I’ve got a feeling he won’t be sticking around for too long.
Any player that has over 5 shots in a game deserves a shout out (YO LUKAS JUTKIEWICZ), but when you combine this with 3 key passes and 8 fucking dribbles, they deserve a sentence or two right? Hoilett has the ability to absolutely kill this league (I might be repeating myself a bit here, but I could say this about a lot of QPR players – in fact this whole list could be Hoops players) although there has always been the nagging question of whether he is efficient enough. It’s strange though, that this question is always levelled at wingers, who are apparently supposed to get the ball directly on to the striker’s head every single time they go down the line. As it has already been proven by the guys on this site, this is impossible.
A player that was seen as Udinese’s fourth choice centre back by many last season. After making 12 starts in Serie A and scoring 4 goals, it was a surprise to see him sent to sister club Watford and he’s already looking a bit good. 7/8 aerial duels won, 3 interceptions, a passing success of over 80% and 12 clearances means the Italian is showing that he is probably going to make this level look like a piece of pannetone. That’s good, because the obvious end goal for the Udinese football conglomerate is to get Watford promoted, at which point they will have a fledgling team in the league of riches and one of the consistent better clubs in Italy.
Notable mentions should go to Harry Arter (2 assists, 6 key passes) and Lewis Grabban (2 goals), who were at the heart of Bournemouth’s opening win against Charlton. It will be interesting to see if Bournemouth and the other two promoted sides, Doncaster Rovers – who for me look doomed – and Yeovil Town, who may keep themselves afloat if Ed Upson stays for the whole season.
Some sides to watch this season in terms of excitement but maybe not quality, could be Blackburn and Derby. Their game had 35 shots in it, but somehow ended in a 1-1 draw. Chris Martin and Ruben Rochina are the most guilty parties there.
Game to watch this weekend- Brighton vs. Derby
The boys from Brighton – one of the footballs league’s best-run clubs, and contenders for promotion again this season – take on Derby and the aforementioned Will Hughes. Brighton are owned by international sports bettor Tony Bloom, and are almost certainly heavy into analytics behind the scenes, though you’ll likely never hear about it. Derby have been around forever, but haven’t been back to the Premier League since the season where they produced the most abject performance ever seen in the league. They are better than that now and should be a lot of fun to watch this year.
Note: Opta and WhoScored have had problems with the Championship stats for some reason, and although they have sorted it out somewhat, there are still quite a few stats missing. Sorry if it seems like I have made any glaring omissions.