Scott Parker - A Shadow Of His Former Self?

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Before Sandro suffered his season ending knee injury in January, it looked increasingly unlikely that Scott Parker would ever become a regular starter again this season, but with the likes of the under-performing Huddlestone and Livermore being the only other options to replace him; Parker has now appeared in 14 consecutive Premier League matches.

However, most Spurs fans are in agreement that Parker’s performances so far this season have shown him to be a shadow of his former self. An appropriate way to statistically analyse Parker would be to focus on his ability to win the ball; and this is likely to be done through both persistent tackling and interceptions. Last season Parker averaged a tackle every 23.1 minutes in the Premier League, with a success rate of 71%; this season he has averaged one every 25.9 minutes, with 69% of those tackles being successful. Although these are only minor reductions, it does indicate the fact that his performances have been below the level shown last season. In terms of interceptions, he has gone one from every 27.8 minutes in the league last season to every 28.5 minutes this; once again showing a decrease in performance.

Another area of Parker’s play that has been heavily criticised this season is how often he loses possession of the ball; this includes both his general passing ability and frequently being caught without purpose on the ball, often having to over elaborately ‘pirouette’ in an attempt to get away from the opponent – something that has been attempted far too often this season. In terms of his passing performance, last season Parker averaged a pass every 1.4 minutes, with a completion rate of 90% - an impressive feat by any player’s standard. This season, he has attempted a pass every 1.35 minutes with an 83% completion rate.

Although this shows Parker has attempted a pass more often this season; it clearly shows that he has that his ability to ‘pick a pass’ has significantly decreased, and therefore supports many fans criticism of the Englishman. Another area that demonstrates Parker’s decline in ball retention since last season is how often he is dispossessed; in his 14 appearances this season, he has been dispossessed once every 5.5 minutes, 34.5% more frequently than the every 8.4 minutes he averaged last season.

Although Parker’s performance has been below what we saw from him last season, the extent to which he has been criticised may be due to the fact that he performances are being compared against Sandro, who was superb before suffering his unfortunate injury. Sandro’s key defensive attribute is his ability to intercept the ball; which is evident in the fact that he averaged an interception every 22.3 minutes when fit, 21.7% more frequently than Parker. The Brazilian’s 80 interceptions in the Premier League this season is still the highest of any Spurs player to date, despite missing the previous 8 games. Another area of play in which Sandro outshines Parker is how often he is dispossessed; just once every 7.4 minutes, compared to Parker every 5.5 minutes. These two factors together clearly demonstrate that Sandro has grown to become far more effective defensive midfielder than Parker, which as alluded to, could be contributing to the level of criticism being aimed toward the former Charlton man's performances.

The statistics clearly show that Parker’s performances have been below what Spurs fans have come to expect from him in comparison to last season, but this could yet be down to the fact that he is still to regain his full fitness after his lengthy ankle injury, or more negatively, he may simply may no longer be the player we saw last season.

However, until Sandro returns from injury it’s difficult to see him not featuring in all of the remaining fixtures, especially when considered that since the only other real defensive midfield options are Jake Livermore and Tom Huddlestone, both of whom have already shown that they are simply not good enough to be regular starters in any Tottenham side.

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Name - Jack Pettiford

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