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Lies, damned lies and statistics!

Lies, damned lies and statistics!

Those of you who have read my previous articles may know, I'm a stickler for a stat, so how's this one for you?

A mainly injured Moussa Dembele has played more minutes this season than Swansea lynchpin Leon Britton. And Stoke star Peter Crouch. And Charlie Adam. What about this? Jan Vertonghen has played more outfield minutes since June than anyone in the league, bar Steven Gerrard. Or this? Sandro is the only player in the PL to have finished the end of last season, gone straight to World Cup qualifiers in Brazil, followed it up with EVERY minute at the Olympics, and then gone straight into the new season. The point I am making is - WE'RE KNACKERED AND NEED REINFORCEMENTS.

After getting annoyed with giving away goals towards the end of games, I looked at stats based on how many minutes players have been on the pitch. I took it back to June, so games involving Olympics, World Cup Qualifiers, and Euro 2012 are included, as well as European club games and domestic league and cup games from this season. Friendlies are not. The results were interesting and I think may highlight why we fail to see out matches - pure tiredness. Vertonghen has played more than any Spurs player since June 2012, starting 29 games and sub in two more, totaling 2713 minutes on the pitch. Only Steven Gerrard, with four minutes more, beats him, followed by Branislav Ivanovic with 2710, Luis Suarez with 2704, and Joe Allen on 2689.

To put this in perspective, look at the Everton team we played on Sunday. Leighton Baines tops the Toffees outfield minutes chart with 1994 - a full 12 HOURS less football than Jan. Fellaini has played 1771 minutes, Jelavic 1667 and Pienaar 1570. Don't forget these three are full internationals playing Euros and World Cups. If we look at City and United, they're the masters of rotation with their deep squads. Van Persie tops United's chart with 2277 minutes, but then Cleverley and Carrick are next with 1955 and 1910 each. Rooney has totaled just 1708 minutes of football, while Valencia for instance is just on 1153, nearly half the amount of someone like Kyle Walker, on 2211 minutes! Tevez (1520), and Aguero (1651) are surprisingly low given their international ties, while a key player like Yaya Toure (2083) is well below the players at the top of the list.

Santi Cazorla heads Arsenals list at 2378, while Vermaelen is at 2340, but after that no one tops the 1900 mark, not even Arteta who has played every PL minute. Petr Cech has played the most of anyone, 3060 minutes, and Chelsea teammates Torres (2557) and Hazard (2500) have put in a shift, which may explain why the pair of them look as knackered as we do. Torres has also had input in 35 games, more than anyone else. If we look at our next opponents Swansea and Stoke, they are certain to be fresher than us. Ashley Williams has played 2229 minutes, but other key players such as Michu have played just 1522, 12.5 hours less than Sandro. Routledge (1188) and Dyer (1142) have played less put together than Vertonghen.

Stoke's four best players have had very little pitch time. Shawcross (1456), Huth (1530), Adam (1258) and Crouch (1175) should fancy themselves as it gets towards the end of the game. Stats can lie, but I think it shows how badly we need BAE and Parker back, in order to give Vertonghen and Sandro a rest. It also shows investment is key in January, not in young back-up players, but in competent internationals who can provide clever alternatives to what we currently have. Kyle Walker (2211), Gareth Bale (2174), and Clint Dempsey (2072) were the other Spurs players who could probably do with a break, while Aaron Lennon (1927) and Jermaine Defoe (1835) may be feeling it.

TOP 10 outfield minutes since June... Gerrard (Liverpool) - 2717 Vertonghen (Spurs) - 2713 Ivanovic (Chelsea) - 2710 Suarez (Liverpool) - 2704 Allen (Liverpool) - 2689 Sandro (Spurs) - 2631 Torres (Chelsea) - 2557 Hazard (Chelsea) - 2500 Cazorla (Arsenal) - 2378 Agger (Liverpool) - 2366

Written by Sebthespur

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

Date:Tuesday December 11 2012
Time: 10:48AM


Great article
11/12/2012 11:01:00
My head's spinning.

11/12/2012 11:01:00
thanks mattgazza it took a while! I couldnt believe it when I saw how much Sandro has played - it's literally been non stop for him!
11/12/2012 11:07:00
appreciate the effort but ...........
11/12/2012 11:09:00
when you add the traveling of someone like sandro and others, that also takes a huge toll on their mental fitness. I can see a few of these players really struggling in the new year if they dont get decent rest over the next month or so. also tired players pick up injuries far easier than fresh ones
11/12/2012 11:12:00
Agreed Ox, players that play in Summer tournaments usually find their bodies pack up around Feb. Personally that's why i think it's essential to keep Parker
11/12/2012 11:15:00
good article, though both of those two have been our top performers this season and I haven't noticed much of a difference in them (though I appreciate that either I may not notice it or that it may affect them more long term) especially when you consider verts has been playing out of position most of the season! If any two could take the amount of minutes its those two I think, come on! Sandro is a beast and verts is a rock!
11/12/2012 11:28:00
OK so we should get rid of our top players and get in a bunch of mediocre players who aren't internationals. That way we won't have any problems with tired players and can field mainly the same first 11 because they won't be playing enough to be worn out. Then we can throw the cups and concentrate on a pointless fourth place which will get us into CL, but we don't want that do we because if we play CL next season then our p[layers will be knackered. Sort of a vicious circle isn't it. We either take the risk of playing to win everything and we may end up with something OR we play it safe and get nothing. OH isn't that what happened last season?
11/12/2012 11:31:00
a little too much can be made of how many 'minutes' people play....the important thing is that the training and rest in between reflect their individual requirement....we don't want knackered players being put through the same paces as players trying to break into the team....
11/12/2012 11:37:00
These men lead a pampered life!any succesful team plays lots of games ,please dont make excuses for failure!
11/12/2012 11:49:00
The Sandro is a beast. But the man needs a rest and Vertongen performances are certainly dipping.
11/12/2012 11:54:00
Good article, shows why Ferguson has always been very careful about squad rotation. You won't really see the full effects until later in the season, we saw with Parker last season just how much a player's form can dip towards the end. Of course many fans would prefer to believe that paying people more money somehow increases their basic fitness and that you can keep playing extra games without performance levels dropping off. The reality is that if you play too many games performance levels must inevitably drop and with a league as competetive as ours it only takes a small drop to make the difference.
11/12/2012 11:59:00
Not sure too much can be read into minutes played. As has been said Verts and Sandro don't look knackered. And according to your theory Liverpool should be bottom. Apart from our game, where they had more of the game than us, they are on a good run. We capitulate in the last quarter of games because of a lack of mental toughness and poor tactics.
11/12/2012 12:01:00
Shows how thin our squad is (LFC)
11/12/2012 12:02:00
there is a perfect example of why you need depth and a serious rotation policy in place. AVB has been unfortunate in this regard as he has has so many key and long term injuries to a squad that was already perhaps two or three experienced players light
11/12/2012 12:14:00
Great article Seb. The devil is in the detail and with the nature of the pace of the PL, these type of stats are far more important than other league in the world. Professional sports teams are always looking for any sort of advantage. Yes we know these players are paid very well, but anyone not seeing this or recognizing this as a potential worring trend is being naive.
11/12/2012 12:32:00
Its been obvious for a while that Verts is running on fumes. Sandro has been playing a huge amount of football and has taken alot of punishment as well, the physical side of his game isn't taken into account with minutes on the pitch. The Lack of Left back cover is really hitting us hard. If we had a capable left back to sub in for BAE then Verts and Sandro could be rotated for each other and would also shore up our left flank. This is where our weakness is, not lack of striker or creative midfielder. IMO we are one player short of third place at the moment which is having a far larger effect on the team with players playing out of position around the squad to try and get the LB berth covered. This needs to be sorted ASAP. For the want of a LB we have lost 16 points from winning positions
Slurms McKenzie
11/12/2012 13:31:00
Still a good rrun of results from now till christmas could see us free and clear in third place or the battle for fourth distill down to three teams...
Slurms McKenzie
11/12/2012 13:38:00
Not usually one for stats bu this is really relevant and a bit of an ete opener. Cheers for the article.
11/12/2012 13:51:00
11/12/2012 13:52:00
Good work Seb. AVB likes stats so I'm sure none of what you have written will be a surprise to him. I just hope Levy does what is right rather than what he likes in January.
11/12/2012 14:00:00
ok so based on this stat why aren't liverpool losing in the last 10 minutes? They have 4 in the top 10 to our 2?
11/12/2012 14:07:00
how many minutes has messi played???'s not about the minutes but the effort a player puts in, the rest and the training regime...Verts is being found out because he's not a left back, well not one that should be bombing on trying to provide width as they just run in behind him...
11/12/2012 14:41:00
Even without the issue raised in this article concerning the amount of minutes on the pitch by Verts and Sandro, we really need BAE and Kaboul back and in condition and playing fitness to straighten out a mess at the back four. Glad we have Gallas in this time of need, but he's not the answer, and Walker and Caulker may be real deals, but they're not 100% there yet. Nothing can make our back four improve more than the additions of BAE and Kaboul if they are fully fit and in form. That, plus Scotty, will really take care of the minutes issue as well. It shouldn't be too long then lads.
Total knobhead
11/12/2012 15:16:00
shedboy2, Messi at 70% is still better than 99.9999% of the players on the planet, plus he plays in a slower league and like most players in europe, he has a winter break to look forward to. We on the other hand, must navigate through the xmas/new year fixture pileup, without burning out the team as Harry did the last 2 seasons. Having said that, I do not believe there is any link between minutes played and us conceding late goals.
11/12/2012 15:19:00
I can't imagine how Messi manages to play in all of his matches! To add to that his international duty is half way around the world and he travels back to still perform all year long at the very highest level. Have you played sports? Sure, fatigue is an issue but rest a player for a week and you are right back at it. I didn't know they needed 3 month vacations on a beautiful island doing nothing to get back to 100%.
11/12/2012 15:26:00
Great article.

RagingSpurs argument that no matter changing teams, changing coaches etc., we don't have that fight-tooth-and-nail mentality to close out games. Sorry, but most teams with the exception of Man U EITHER play beautiful, fast-paced football like us, OR play efficient, crunching, ugly but tenacious football. It's very VERY difficult to have both. In fact most "flair" players, the Thierry Henry's, the Berbatov's, they are highly skilled but not the bulldogs that battle for every scrap. We have a lot of skilled players and a couple of bulldog beasts in Parker and Sandro, and we have to maintain that number of skilled flair players to sustain our brand of exciting football. BUT, with injuries, we're then susceptible to late tiredness and lapses in concentration.
11/12/2012 15:33:00
You think coaches don't know you are out of fuel if they see you in training everyday? I'm sure if the players were simply to tired that coaches would allow some shorter practices or rest days to get the players back in shape. We are talking about elite athletes here who do this for a living. We have not had more than 1 cup game and 6 Europa league games so our schedule is fairly normal for this time of year. I'm so bored with the fatigue issue because EVERY single team has the same issue and other teams have far less quality on there bench to rotate then we do! Sure, we may not be City but we are better than 75% of the PL. True athletes don't want to sit there on the bench "resting" they want to be out there fighting for there team.
11/12/2012 15:37:00
Parker's return SHOULD entail Sandro to get rested...whether AVB is into him is another thing entirely. But this is something that has to be done soon. Vertonghen can easily be rested once Ekotto comes back. However, with Naughton, Caulker, Dawson, and alas Gallas available, he actually could be rested right now. Ironic that the previous gaffer was criticised for knack erring out players, and the current gaffer is doing it more by playing non fringe in Europa cup. At the end of the day, us losing goals at the end of games has nothing much to do with general tiredness. It is clear to see that our game plan goes out of the window late on, And we forget how to pass. It is more to do with lack of plan B, lack of discipline, and our tactics do not promote tightening up games in order to ensure the points. Plus our sub decisions have been suspect all season. As some have said, Messi, Ronaldo, Lampard of old, Ekotto and I believe guys like Vertonghen and Bale need minimal rest. Guys like Parker, Kaboul do need it.
11/12/2012 15:41:00
Very very good point as well RagingSpur, great post
11/12/2012 15:42:00
The late lapses in concentration is down to being second best in the game. Eventually you will crack. We do. We need to start performing better. We must try to be the better team over ninety mins....THEN the late lapses will be minimised. Plus when you are on top in a game, you are LESS tired. This is our real problem.
11/12/2012 15:46:00
The players are elite athletes, playing against elite athletes, meaning, they do not have to be exhausted for performances to drop, they just have to be a little more exhausted than the opposition. A marathon is usually full of athletes, but 3/4 through the race, some athletes start to fall behind, without proper rotation at key times, that could happen to us.
11/12/2012 15:55:00
I agree TonyRich, the late conceded goals is a tactical/performance problem. An area the manager should be able to improve upon.
11/12/2012 16:05:00
The abililty to keep the ball when necessary (during the last few minutes) is certainly difficult if players are tired. But is every player conscious of how important this is? I don't get the impression that we fight to keep that ball at all costs at these crucial stages. Would like to ask AVB how he makes this point.
11/12/2012 16:20:00
Haven`t Spurs used more players than any other EPL club this season ?

The main reason why we`re not closing out games is for one ,AVB gets his subs so badly wrong ..
And 2 it just points out how weak our bench is .
Lennon was poor on Sunday but who came on for him ? need better competition for places & more like for like .
We have a great first 11 IMO , but a pretty weak squad overall .Subs have to be made but too many are going wrong
big cockeral
11/12/2012 16:20:00
Big cockeral did Lennon sh@g ur missus or somet!? Forums are all about opinions and debate but ur continued dissing of Lennon is so blatantly unwarranted. Fair doos he is not flying past fullbacks as much as he has done when he first came on the scene or as much as Bale, but he has worked his socks off for the team this season and seems to be more of a team player now. I can see a big comparison with Ryan Giggs when he was 18-24 he used to fly down the wings but cos of hammy injuries he had to adapt his game and started doing what Azza is now. Once we get a fully fit team on the pitch we will see Azza as a good 433 player and not just a 442 winger COYMFS!!!
11/12/2012 16:36:00
Guyver, I understand that and its a fair point but that being said we are all aware that we have to rotate. Not a single player should be fatigued at this stage of time and if they are than they simply are not a durable and reliable player throughout the season. In the coming months it's going to get rough but we have quality to rotate. I don't think our bench is anything to brag about by any means but if I looked at Everton, WBA, Swansea, Norwich, ect we are far ahead of that. We may not be the same level as the Manchester sides but it's enough to compete for the top 4. These team face the same issues as we do! Rio and Vidic could have won United the title last year but...tough luck due to injuries and they know this is always going to be an issue moving forward. I know our issues will be in defense for years to come and that Kaboul isn't going to always be fit and Walker is always going to be a dodgy defender. Things like this are obvious its what the coach opts to do with things like this. The teams that are below us have even less quality! The top 4 is weaker than it has ever been and we should be considering ourselves favorites with how it would have looked in the past. We don't have Modric who makes that almost a sure thing but we have enough to say we should beat out Arsenal and Everton and we should be sad if we don't. Prior to season start I said we'd be 8th but that is for the fact that we are conceding 10 goals in 16 matches in dying minutes and I can tell you if that goes for 36 rounds of matches at that rate we will finish there and we will feel hard done.
11/12/2012 17:04:00
good article. vertonghen is really in need of a rest, his performances have suffered, especially playing at LB as it requires a lot more running. I believe that AVB will rotate a lot more wh
11/12/2012 18:00:00
...when key players return
11/12/2012 18:01:00
good article.. but thank god i rolled a fat one before i read it...made it that touch more difficult to understand all those facts and figures...

totally with you on the reinforcements issue...



Toby Alderweireld of Ajax (defender that played well with Verts>

Moutinho, Willian, Atsu, Mertens (AMF)

Negredo, Llorente, Alexis Sanchez

Would like to see Coulibaly get a run out soon...
11/12/2012 18:22:00
RagingSpur, The last time we finished above Arsenal was back in 1995, almost 2 decades ago, i'd still have them as favourites for top 4. Yes they lost Van Persie, but they've been selling their best players for years and always find a way to finish top 4 while simultaneously being competitive in the CL. Arsenal have Arshavin, Podolski, Walcott, Gervinho and Chamberlain for their wide positions. Who do we have after Bale and Lennon? Yes we have more in our squad than WBA, Swansea and Norwich, but that's why we should finish above them. Everton have closed the gap on us a little and don't have Europe to distract them, which helps their smallish squad, so they are contenders at least.

Overal we probably have the 5th best squad in the league, but injuries in key positions could seriously cripple us (same with some other clubs) that just prove's we arent head and shoulders above our immediate rivals and have no divine right for that top 4 spot. Depending on how our season goes (eg a long term injury to Bale and/or Defoe, even a 6th place finish would be acceptable imo, unless we bolster our squad in January to significantly separate ourselves from the rest. AVB hasnt been perfect, no manager in the league has, but we're currently around the position you'd expect us to be in, which should be a good sign for those (including myself) who were sceptical of AVB in July and a great sign for those who think we'll finish 8th RagingSpur!
11/12/2012 18:27:00
We are five players sgort. Cover for LB and RB. A creative CM cover for the wings someone who can play either side and a striker
11/12/2012 18:43:00
All things being equal, I don't see how any Spurs fan can EXPECT 4th, however that doesnt mean we can't finish 4th and shouldnt expect 4th IF a team like Arsenal have a terrible season similar to Chelsea last year. In that scenario, expectation's obviously rise to meet that particular situation.
11/12/2012 18:48:00
xmas period nigh on upon us. 2 home games, 2 away games. 3 wins from them would be great.
11/12/2012 19:06:00
You could go one step further and work out distance travelled during a game. Stating the obvious, Friedal played a few hundred consecutive games because he doesn't have to run about. So players like Huddlestone and Berbatov should be able to do the same.
matt hoten
11/12/2012 19:34:00
chelsea and liverpool have 3 players each in that list and we have 2, chelsea dont seem to be doing too badly
Audere est Facere
11/12/2012 19:38:00
Sandro is the only one that I worry about after the summer he's had, and he is carrying a calf injury.
Love totty
11/12/2012 20:57:00
spu 4 life
11/12/2012 22:28:00
Surely Spu 4 Life they should be offering it with very little penalties!
Slurms McKenzie
12/12/2012 11:42:00
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