Stats have long been used, from grass roots level right to the top tiers of management, and taking in the armchair pundit along the way, to stoke debate, gauge value, and determine a player or team’s performance. They can also be wildly misleading.
The cake is a lie. For those who did not sink years of their childhood into Portal, the general message is of a fictitious motivator or reward for performance.
The ability to press and quickly win back possession was famed as one of the pillars on which Pep Guardiola’s unparalleled Barcelona side built their era-defining success. Interceptions, it is fair to say, correlates to increased possession and therefore, you would assume, passes completed. Watford however manage to disprove this.
The Hornets’ combative, if somewhat immobile, midfielder Etienne Capoue currently sits top of Squawka Stats for interceptions across Europe’s top 5 leagues for the season thus far, regaining possession for his team on an impressive 24 occasions. Capoue is in fact the only midfield player to break the top 10, with defenders unsurprisingly populating most of the top spots. Team-mate Christian Kabasele also boasts an impressive 22 interceptions, earning him 6thplace on the list.
It goes without saying that interceptions may not necessarily stem from a player’s ability to successfully anticipate play and can simply be as a result of a misplaced pass.
You might assume that this ability to turn over possession at such a high rate may lead to correspondingly high possession and passing stats. However, despite their penchant for winning back the ball, the team sits 17thin the Premier League with regards completed passes, surpassing only the already-relegated Cardiff, the beleaguered Toon and Chris Hughton’s spirited Brighton.
Interestingly, despite Klopp’s emphasis on gegenpressing, Liverpool’s renowned high-press game which in theory ought to lead to turnovers, the Merseyside team sit 17thin the league standings, with title-challengers Chelsea bottom. Obviously therefore, certain stats must be treated as anomalies, with little to no bearing on a teams possession.
Watford are located within several miles of Warner Bros. Studios, famed for the Harry Potter film franchise. By the looks of things they could do with some wizardry to string two passes together. Speaking of – should JK and co. ever need a few extras for any upcoming releases, they won’t have far to look as Watford’s reserve goalkeeper Pontus Dahlberg is a dead ringer for one of the Malfoys.