I have been motivated to write this article due to sweeping statements many people have expressed especially on social media about Jordan Ayew’s season without recourse to any serious analysis.
I believe that many of these statements are simplistic borne out of probably a deep-seated dislike for the footballer or morbid ignorance.
Let’s conduct a little analysis.
Most Saves Made
In the EPL this season the top 5 goalkeepers in the league in terms of saves made are;
- Jake Butland of Stoke (144 Saves) – Relegated (19th position)
- Lukasz Fabianski of Swansea (137) – Relegated (18th position)
- Matt Ryan of Brighton (124) – Survived (15th position)
- Jordan Pickford of Everton (121) – survived (8th position)
- David De Gea of Manchester United (115) – 2nd place
The top 2 goalkeepers with the most saves were relegated. This is an indication that the midfield and defence overly exposed the goalkeepers. It’s no surprise that the fans of Swansea voted Fabianski as their player of the season and Butland is currently England’s number 1 goalkeeper. It’s also not a surprise that De Gea is regarded as one of the best goalkeepers in the world.
Both Swansea and West Ham conceded the most penalties with 7 each. Did Jordan contribute to the penalties? No.
Goal Scored & Contribution by top 3 goal scorers
It’s also instructive to note that in terms of goal scored, Swansea and Huddersfield were the worse scoring team in the premier league. Their goal tally of 28 was the lowest.
This is where the statistics get interesting, out of the first 4 teams where the goalkeepers were overly stretched; Stoke, Swansea, Brighton and Everton the goal contribution in terms of the goal distribution amongst the top 3 players are as follows:
- Glen Murray, Brighton – 50%
- Jordan Ayew, Swansea – 47.1%
- Wayne Rooney, Everton – 43%
- Xherdan Shaqiri – 42.1%
As per the data, goal support for Jordan was very limited. For example, while the top 5 players for Brighton scored 29 goals, the top 5 for Swansea scored only 17 goals.
Therefore Jordan had very limited support from teammates in terms of goal scoring threat.
Man City leads the table in terms of through balls with 118 and Swansea is 19th with only 23 through balls. This is an indication of the extent to with which a forward like Jordan was starved.
Another interesting stats to consider is the shots per team.
- Man City – 665 shots
- Liverpool – 638 shots
- Tottenham – 622 shots
20. Swansea- 338 shots
Swansea were bottom in terms of shots with only 338 shots but out of the 338 shots, 103 were on target while out of Man City’s 665 shots, only 265 were on target.
Therefore Swansea’s short to target ratio of 30.47% is higher than Man City’s ratio of 39.84%. One factor that’s clear from the analysis is that Swansea’s goal threat was blunt with the team overly reliant on the exploits of Jordan but they had a higher shooting accuracy from the few shots they managed on target.
Player for Player Analysis (Jordan Ayew, Leroy Sane & Sadio Mane)
This season Jordan was deployed in 4 different roles.
For the purpose of this analysis, I’ll compare Jordan Ayew with Sadio Mane and Leroy Sane who both play for very attack-minded teams. An analysis of their positional play also indicates that both Mane and Sane operate as part of a fluid offensive attacking force.
My other motivation for choosing these players is that they play for top teams in the EPL and are also generally idolized by Ghanaians.
I will compare their offensive play, defensive play and discipline.
Total Team Goals
Percentage of Team Goals scored
Goals inside the box
Goals outside the box
It’s interesting to note that Jordan had a better shooting accuracy than both Leroy Sane and Sadio Mane. He scored 3 goals less than both Mane and Sane but as per the stats, Swansea was overly reliant on him. Goal threat in the Swansea team was poor with Jordan alone responsible for 25% of the team’s goals in the EPL.
Despite the relatively higher number of goals Sane and Mane scored, their goals accounted for only 9.43% and 11.9% of their team’s total goals. In terms of goals inside the box, 100% of Mane’s goals were inside the box with none outside the box, 80% of Sane’s goals were also inside the box with 20% outside the box.
Jordan on the other hand, scored 71.42% and 28.57% of his goals inside and outside the box respectively
Jordan Ayew leads both Leroy Sane and Sadio Mane in terms of tackles (82), interceptions (24) and clearances (17). Leroy Sane recorded 27 tackles, 13 interceptions, 6 clearances whilst Mane provided 28, 9, 7 tackles, interception and clearances respectively.
Jordan is, therefore, a more superior player in terms of his defensive play.
Ghanaians are quick to tag Jordan with indiscipline but the records do not pick him out as such. In the season he recorded 1 red card and 1 yellow card. Leroy Sane picked up 4 yellow cards and Mane picked up 1 red card and 3 yellow cards. Why are we then quick to tag Jordan with the indiscipline tag?
- Given Jordan’s work rate he would have recorded much higher numbers in a team where he didn’t have to add defensive duties to his offensive roles.
- Swansea’s midfield and defence were weak, thereby overly exposing Fabianski. This also meant that forwards had to consistently drop back to assist with defensive duties. That explains Jordan’s high defensive rate as opposed to the likes of Mane and Sane
- With a goal support for about 3 or 4 from colleagues, Swansea would have stayed up.
Jordan’s performance for Swansea this season was stellar and it was not for nothing that his team mates voted him as their best player. His goal of the season was also a wonder goal created out of sheer skill, vision, ingenuity and tenacity.
As an avid football fan, the dislike for Jordan Ayew amongst some Ghanaians is senseless and baseless but it’s understandable given the fact that we live in a country where people can just hate you for the fun of it.
However, I believe it’s high time we rally behind our stars wherever they may be and give them the needed support instead of vilifying them when there’s no justification to do so.
Nana Yaw Kesse is a blogger who writes on marketing & corporate strategy, sports and other social issues focused on Ghana’s corporate and socio-political environment.
e-mail: [email protected]
Twitter & Instagram: @nykesse