There’s a lot of fans questioning what’s happened to Ross Barkley this season. In terms of incisiveness, the answer is ‘nothing’. He’s the same as ever.
Barkley made 25 ‘key’ passes that led directly to shots last year. None of those shots went in. This was in a year when Everton’s conversion rate was higher than it had been for donkey’s. Everton’s conversion rate is even higher this season and the youngster now has his first Premier League assist.
But Barkley just hasn’t regularly delivered dangerous final balls so far in his career. My chance creation model suggests he did enough to make 0.1 assists per 90mins last season. It’s 0.11 this season.
Here’s how Barkley’s key passes look this season – just two pick-outs in the danger zone so far:
After putting the above graphic together I looked at how often Barkley puts non key pass balls into the box. There’s just 3 extra passes to include:
It gets worse for Barkley when you factor in his shooting. Here’s expected goals (from shots) and expected assists (from chances created) bolted together:
The problem might not be the player, but where he’s being asked to operate. Barkley still hasn’t played enough Premier League minutes yet to make up a full 38 game season. Can Everton afford to be letting him learn his trade at the business end of the field now things aren’t going so swimmingly?
Instead of talking about Ross going on to be the greatest player England has ever produced, the manager might consider talking about whether the boy’s skills are better suited to a more orthodox midfield role further back. The evidence suggests he’s more of a continuity player than a No.10 (or even worse, a wide man).
He’ll ocassionally pull something wondrous out of the bag due to his talent but will that just add to the pressure when he can’t reproduce it on a consistent basis?
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