Do Premier League team statistics tell the whole story?

When we’re choosing our fantasy league selections, keeping an eye on player and team performances almost becomes second nature. These days there are a host of statistical platforms offering numbers for almost every possible performance metric, allowing us to search through data to our heart’s content. However, the numbers don’t always highlight the bigger picture in the Premier League.

At precisely the halfway point of the 2019-20 season, one team has dominated several key statistical areas. According to metrics with 19 games played, no team could boast having better possession (59.9%), shots per game (20.1), pass accuracy (88.3%) or average player match ratings (7.05) than Manchester City.

We would typically associate such impressive numbers with a title contender perched at the top of the table. However, what these numbers don’t show is that the team managed by Pep Guardiola have actually struggled this season, having lost 5 and drawn 2 of their 19 games played. Meanwhile, at the same point at which these statistics were taken, Liverpool remained unbeaten and had drawn just one of their 18 games.

Given their commanding position at the top of the table, few bookmakers are looking beyond Liverpool for the title. Indeed, the latest Premier League betting odds for Man City have slipped to 16/1 and Guardiola has practically conceded defeat in the title race, suggesting that it’s now “unrealistic” to believe his side can close the gap on Liverpool, with the side led by Jurgen Klopp seemingly destined to win the title.

Despite being statistically the best team in the Premier League in so many key performance metrics, the one that matters most of all is that Man City are trailing Liverpool by what now looks to be an unassailable difference in points. Interestingly, Liverpool have managed to produce their exceptional tally of points without topping any of the collective performance charts, relying heavily on the quality of individual performances.

After 18 games played, Premier League statistics for Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk show that he has made more passes than any other player, while Trent Alexander-Arnold has also registered the highest number of crosses. Likewise, Mohamed Salah not only tops the charts for shots on goal throughout the season, the Egyptian star also boasts the highest average for shots per game.

Beyond the Premier League top four, Wilfried Zaha at Crystal Palace and Adama Traore at Wolves are both leading players for successful dribble attempts, while Emiliano Buendia at Norwich City and Jack Grealish at Aston Villa are both rating very highly when it comes to key passes during games. Danny Ings at Southampton and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang have amongst the best goals per game ratios.

Clearly what this shows is that although collective team performances can provide a useful basis on which to make our fantasy picks, there’s no substitute for carefully following individual player performance statistics. Looking past the leading teams, there are numerous players achieving high ratings in several key areas that contribute towards consistently high fantasy ratings. Don’t forget to pay attention to these when making your picks.