On Sunday night in a London awards ceremony Robin Van Persie was crowned the PFA's player of the season for 2011/2012. He had been the heavy favorite with the bookies and considering the vote was cast sometime around March, he was the thoroughly deserved winner on the night.
Without going too much into the stupidity of holding a vote for the seasons best player nary half way through the actual season, what would a vote for the PFA's player of the season look like if voted for today?
Considering that a forward usually wins this award (16 times out of the last 20 votes) I shall specifically write about the strikers who were up for the PFA player of the year award.
So Robin Van Persie became the 2012 PFA player of the year as voted by his fellow professionals. Not to dismiss the individual contributions of the 3 other nominees up for the award, who were Joe Hart, David Silva and Scott Parker I shall only be looking at the 3 outstanding strikers.
Each can lay claim to an individually successful season so far in this fascinating Premier League campaign.
Robin Van Persie for his electric start and, at times, single handedly winning games for Arsenal.
Sergio Aguero for stepping seamlessly into the most competitive league in the world and excelling.
Wayne Rooney who after a slowish start has become increasingly influential on his Man Utd team.
All 3 players have already broken their own individual season records for goals in a single season with 3 games to spare. They have all had incredible seasons and they are a credit to the EPL and a joy for fans to see week in and week out.
Previous career high for goals
Wayne Rooney 26 goals in 2009/10
Robin Van Persie 18 goals in 2010/11
Sergio Aguero 20 goals goals in La Liga in 2010/11
A comparison By Numbers
Wayne Rooney 26 goals 4 assists (6 pens)
Robin Van Persie 27 goals 10 assists (2 pens)
Sergio Aguero 22 goals 7 assists (3 pens)
These are all career years for these respective players.
% of his teams goals
Robin Van Persie 27 of 67 for 40 % of total goals
Wayne Rooney 26 of 86 for 30 % of total goals
Sergio Aguero 22 of 87 for 25 % of total goals
This just highlights Arsenals dependency on Van Persie's excellent play so far this season.
Minutes Per Goal
Wayne Rooney 99 mins
Sergio Aguero 106 mins
Robin Van Persie 113 mins
Robin Van Persie led the league in this stat for full time players for the majority of the season. Only 1 goal scored in the last 7 games has see Van Persie fall from the top spot.
Longest Goal Drought
Robin Van Persie 4 games
Wayne Rooney 9 games
Sergio Aguero 3 games
Rooney's goalless streak is staggering considering he now has 27 goals in this seasons EPL.
Robin Van Persie 155 shots 73 on target .470%
Wayne Rooney 144 shots 67 on target .465%
Sergio Aguero 115 shots 46 on target .400%
Van Persie's total shots is very high here as it has had to be.
Scoring % (shots on goal/goals)
Sergio Aguero .48%
Wayne Rooney .49%
Robin Van Persie .37%
Now, a good way to determine if a striker is having an abnormally good season, and possibly a season driven by luck in terms of scoring % is to look at his historical scoring % previous to this current season.
Historical Scoring %
Sergio Aguero .357
Wayne Rooney .214
Robin Van Persie .389
Note Robin Van Persie's historical data does not include the Eredivisie due to incomplete data. Rooney's low number can be seen in context to his career starting at an extremely young age.
Van Persie is the consistent scorer and the one player least likely to fall away in terms of next years scoring. One wonders just what his career might have looked like without the injuries and being played deep or wide earlier in his career.
Sergio Aguero has a high historical scoring % considering his young age, but the .48% leaves me a little concerned going into next season. It may be reasonable to expect his high scoring % to drop next season (which would affect total goals) but it may not due to factors such as better quality of team-mates at Man City this year, and increasing his total number of shots, which trail Van Persie's high number by a wide margin.
Goals By Game Situation
Goals at -1,0,+1 home/away
Robin Van Persie 14/9 for 85 % of 27 goals
Sergio Aguero 10/4 for 63 % of 22 goals
Wayne Rooney 10/3 for 41 % of 27 goals
Not all goals are equal, some goals have more significance than others. The 5th goal in a 5-0 will has little value and tells us nothing about the said strikers ability to score when the game is on the line and his team need him.
I believe that goals scored at -1,0,+1(one goal behind, game tied, one goal ahead) goal situations tell us about a striker who doesn't pad his stats, who doesn't turn it on against the already beaten sides, but one who excels in pressure situations.
It's Van Persie who excels by this measurement. There may be some corrections due agaisnt him as he plays on a weaker side, and a side more liable to be a goal behind or to tied late in the game. But having said that his 85 % of goals scored at the important -1,0,+1 situations is just extraordinary.
I'll predict we wont see that many goals of such importance, scored in such numbers in a single season for a long time to come.
If we take into account all the measurement tools I have used agaisnt each striker, Goals, the assist, the Scoring % etc we can hope to gain a purely statistical outcome.
There is also the 'seen 'em good' train of thought, where we we just base our opinions solely on what our eyes see. This is an attempt to strip away some of the occasional bias and present a cold look at the respective players. Bear in mind the PFA award was voted on by the players' peers and voted on many months ago.
Solely by the numbers, if the award was voted on today I would give the award to Robin Van Persie.
His 27 goals on the season for a weaker team, and also the situations he scored his goals in are just extraordinary numbers. Not just that, he has also assisted on the highest number of goals of this group of players and scored the highest percentage of his teams total goals.
All told Arsenal would be somewhat lost this season with Van Persie's incredible performances.
He is irreplaceable for the Gunners and there may well be dark clouds and a few of the worlds biggest clubs circling for the players signature at the end of the season with his expiring contract status looking increasingly worrisome for the clubs fans.
Now a little fun! A measurement tool devised to mix in all these numbers and come up with a value system to evaluate these players.
I'll call it DSB rating for now. It's a mix of the scoring %, goals and assists/the Mins per goal. The lower the number the better the player.
Sergio Aguero 29
Wayne Rooney 30
Robin Van Persie 39
Now it is only a little fun, but having done this for all the strikers in the top 20 of the EPL scoring race, the measurement fits with some uniformity.
If a players shooting % is low, your DSB number rises (which is a bad thing, lower the DSB number the better), it also rises if the players goals total is low, or the minutes per goal is too high.
The one player it doesn't fit for for is Cisse from Newcastle who has a scoring % of .69, for 11 goals and a goal every 68 minutes. His rating is an astronomically low -12! Safe to say, knowing about scoring %'s and other such stats for strikers, Cisse will not repeat a .69 scoring % nor a goal every 68 mins. He is the anomaly.