After yesterday’s glut of headed goals I thought I would take a quick look at what seems a mini revival of teams finally utilising their aerial prowess.
Fernando Llorente scored his second goal for Swansea against Liverpool yesterday with a powerful header from a cross from Tom Carroll,who was making his Swansea debut. Swansea aren’t known for slinging cross upon cross into the box but yesterday they did just that, well to a degree anyway. Out of 8 crosses into the box 5 were met by a Swansea player also another 8 had to be blocked by a Liverpool player. Liverpool won 6/37 crosses in comparison but that isn’t their game. Compare this to the 2/22 success against Arsenal we can see Paul Clement is trying to get the best out of Llorente and his height. Swansea only had 26% of the possession at Anfield yesterday and out of a total of 6 shots 3 were on target I.e all goals and that is a 100% success rate not bad for a relegation threatened side. As with all strikers of Llorente kind they rely heavily for the team to play to their strengths but a team still needs players with the ability to put decent enough balls into the box for them to attack. Arsenal are an example who don’t have this. Walcott’s final ball isn’t good enough which is one reason Olivier Giroud doesn’t score as many headed goals as he should as a) the service isn’t provided and b) Arsenal don’t tend to ping many crosses into the box as like Liverpool this isn’t really their style. But could they utilise it a bit more? Would it benefit them?
West Ham on the other hand do tend cross the ball a lot more than most Premier League sides this is due them having Andy Carroll. Carroll is back in the Hammers team and looks fitter than he has in a long time and is also back in the goals with 5 in his 7 appearances this season. With Antonio, Feghouli and Lanzini providing him with balls to attack, Carroll has delivered with goals. 40% of West Ham’s attacks against Middlesborough came down the left side where Antonio plays a deliberate ploy. Andy Carroll has the highest aerial duels won per game in Europe with 10.0 second to him is Christian Benteke and third Monpellier striker Steve Mounie (a giant at only 22 years old by the way and a shot per game ratio of 3.39 remember the name).
I know I know these are only statistics but it’s by no chance that some teams have finally gotten to realise that a passing game is not always the best way to beat the top teams in the Premier League and that going long or crossing the ball with more frequency can yield big results. It’s not great viewing at times but points are points and valuable nonetheless.
The likes of Carroll, Peter Crouch, Mounie and to a lesser extent Benteke will all prosper given the right service but more importantly if some managers are brave enough to play that style of football.