Why Adam Johnson must play more for Man City

Adam Johnson came off the bench again on Saturday to fire in his third Premier League goal of the season, to make it three goals in three games for the former Middlesbrough man.

So, with two assists also on the board in limited minutes, why isn’t Adam Johnson playing more often?

Adam Johnson has improved each season since arriving at Man City

After arriving at Man City in the 2009 January transfer window, Adam Johnson featured in all of the Blues’ remaining 15 games that season, producing a goal and 8 assists.


The following campaign, he appeared in more matches and would score 4 goals and provide 7 assists. His average number of minutes played for either scoring a goal or assisting on one remained pretty constant over his first two seasons. However, this year he has really improved:
.

Season

Mins played

Goals

Assists

Mins per goal
or assist

2009-10

1177

1

7

130

2010-11

1485

4

7

135

2011-12

366

3

2

73

.
After scoring a goal or creating one every 130 minutes in his first two seasons with Man City, this year Adam Johnson has been on fire. He has scored a goal or created one for a team mate every 73 minutes in the Premier League, which puts him up there with some of the best midfielders.

How does Adam Johnson compare with the best Premier League midfielders?

Adam Johnson has been getting limited minutes compared to midfielders from the other top five teams. However, if you compare him minute-by-minute against the best goal scoring and assisting midfielders in the Premier League, he is actually at the top of the table:
.

Player

Mins played

Goals and Assists

Mins per goal or assist

A. Johnson

366

5

73

R. van der Vaart

593

8

74

S. Nasri

520

7

74

J. Milner

468

6

78

F. Lampard

765

9

85

J. Mata

531

6

88

D. Silva

805

9

89

A. Young

642

7

91

A. Ramsay

801

5

162

M. Arteta

747

3

249

C. Adam

815

4

203

.
Three Man City players are in the top four places for scoring or creating a goal in the Premier League amongst midfielders. This not only goes some way to explaining why Man City have been scoring on average 3.6 goals per Premier League game, but also why they are top of the table by having numerous players who can score or create goals.

Adam Johnson has been in fine form this season

With so many talented midfielders it’s remarkable that Adam Johnson comes out above them all, so why isn’t he playing more?

Adam Johnson can also take corners

Adam Johnson may have been scoring or setting up a goal every 73 minutes in the Premier League, but he has also been successful with corners too. If we compare all of Man City’s corner takers in the Premier League this season, Adam Johnson comes out on top in terms of accuracy:
.

Player

Corners taken

Successful Corners

Accuracy (%)

S. Nasri

24

5

21%

J. Milner

15

2

13%

A. Johnson

13

5

38%

D. Silva

10

2

20%

.
Adam Johnson’s corners have been effective of late, as was the case two games ago against Aston Villa when Man City won 4-1. For the Blues first goal, Micah Richards cushioned a Johnson corner down for Mario Balotelli to score. Then for their third goal, Vincent Kompany headed home directly from a Johnson corner.

With Adam Johnson not only supplying goals and assists at a decent rate, taking accurate corners which have directly or indirectly led to goals, should warrant him more playing time.

Adam Johnson has been hitting the target

Each year at Man City, Adam Johnson has increased his shots at goal and improved the number which are hitting the target:
.

Season

Shots

Shots per game

Shots on Target

%

2009-10

17

1.5

5

29%

2010-11

36

1.2

11

31%

2011-12

13

1.9

6

46%

.
Adam Johnson has increased his shots per game from 1.5 on target his first season with Man City to 1.9 per game this year. He has also increased his accuracy from 29% to 46% this term, which is paying off as he has struck 3 Premier League goals already. With his previous best return from a campaign being 4 goals, he should surpass that easily this season.

How does this compare to his Man City midfield companions?

If we take a look at how Adam Johnson fares compared to Man City’s other midfield options, we see that only James Milner and David Silva have been hitting the target with a higher percentage of their shots:
.

Player

Shots

Shots on target

Shooting accuracy
(%)

Goals

D. Silva

23

12

52%

3

A. Johnson

13

6

46%

3

J. Milner

7

5

71%

2

S. Nasri

8

3

38%

1

Y. Toure

20

6

30%

0

.
David Silva has been in fantastic form this season, but his shooting percentage compared to Adam Johnson is only marginally better and both have 3 goals. James Milner is way ahead in terms of shooting accuracy, as he has been sniper efficient with his limited number of efforts.

Why isn’t Adam Johnson playing more?

Roberto Mancini said his recent criticism of Adam Johnson not tracking back on a Wolves goal was to make him a better player, but from what Johnson has done already this season, he has already become a better player. At 24-years old, there is still more to come, but he needs more time in the middle.

Adam Johnson has 3 goals, 2 assists and creates a goal or a chance every 73 minutes, which is the best chance creation of any midfielder in the Premier League. He is also taking successful corners more often than every other Man City player, as well as hitting the target with increasing frequency when he shoots.

So Roberto Mancini, why isn’t Adam Johnson playing more often?

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