Yaya Toure vs Scott Parker: who’s more box to box?

Fred just raised a good point in the comments about Scott Parker of West Ham being a similar type player (albeit without the supporting cast). Parker has long been considered a hard working, hard tackling midfielder and he has four of West Ham’s 22 Premiership goals this season.

So I thought I’d go to the Guardian Chalkboards and see if I could do a fair ‘heatmap’ comparison between two knowing they both just recently played against Wolves and both won. Seems to be as fair a game as you’ll get for a comparison. It’s recent, they were both played in proximity to each other in similar conditions and both teams won so you can make some assumptions that the balance of play favoured both Parker and Toure.

A heatmap lets you see what parts of the field a player was occupying for certain elements of the game. I chose passing but it would probably have been just as valid to choose tackles. Here’s how it looks:

A bit of quick math shows this:

Toure completed 10% of his passes in the defensive third (the two grids on the left), 37% in the middle third and the rest, 50%, (although it only adds up to 97% for some reason) in the attacking third.

When Parker played against Wolves two weeks earlier his numbers were similar but not as distributed between the attacking third and the defensive third (which I take to be a very good indicator of a box to box midfielder – completing passes at both ends of the field). Parker had just 4% of his passes completed in the defensive third and 35% in the attacking third. This means 61% of his play was in the regular domain of midfielders: the middle of the field.

Yes, one game is hardly a yardstick and yes stats are not much more than a waste of time but…here they are anyways.

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2 Responses to Yaya Toure vs Scott Parker: who’s more box to box?

  1. Fred Cutler says:

    Very very nice. This was a typical Parker game. Typical in the sense you specifically focus on: not much passing _out_ of the def third, but rather always available as a target for passes out of there. I wouldn’t say Toure plays that role as much as Parker. When Parker’s in the def third, he’s often on the deck after a crunching tackle or making blocks 20-25 yds from goal. He plays a more desperate game back there, for a desperate team. If we looked at tackles, we might see a different story.
    Will embedding this work?…
    This is location of tackles won and lost in their head-to-head matchup, which, needless to say, was played 70% in the West Ham half.

     by Guardian Chalkboards

    • Gregor says:

      I emailed them about how to embed the chalkboards but got no reply. Was sure it was mentioned somewhere on their site that you could. I just did a screen shot and inserted mine as a jpeg. It’s a great soccer nerd tool though.

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