What Bryan Ruiz does to make Fulham better

Bryan Ruiz arrived at Fulham in the last hour rush of the summer transfer window. He wasn’t hurried straight in to the starting line-up like many an expensive signing would be, but had to be content with a place on the bench and a handful of substitute appearances.

However, since he has come in to the team, Fulham have started to ease away from the relegation zone as their form has improved. So just what it is that Bryan Ruiz does that has made Fulham better?

Bryan Ruiz arrived at Craven Cottage in a £10.6 million move from FC Twente. Ruiz had scored 39 times in 61 games for the Dutch outfit, putting him on the radar of quite a few clubs.

He came to Fulham having admired Martin Jol in his time in the Dutch Eredivisie with Ajax, but Jol did not throw him straight in to the first team. Instead, Ruiz would have to be content with a number of cameo appearances from the bench, prior to getting his first start in Fulham’s thirteenth Premier League match away at Arsenal.

Since then the Costa Rican has been an ever present, as Fulham have garnered some impressive results. They’ve taken four points from two meetings with the Gunners, taken all three points against Liverpool and drawn away at Stamford Bridge. Bryan Ruiz has been a major part in this run and here is what he does that has made Fulham better.

Bryan Ruiz is a two-way player

Bryan Ruiz has made an impact since coming in to the team, bringing to Fulham a combination of attacking intent, but also a defensive side to his game that was rarely on show at FC Twente. If we break his game down, we can see that he is not just an attack minded player but also strong defensively.

Bryan Ruiz going forward

What put Bryan Ruiz on the radar of clubs like Liverpool, Spurs and Arsenal, was his ability to score and create goals, both of which he is doing for Fulham.

2011-12 Season

Mins on pitch




Shots at goal


Shooting accuracy (%)




Passing accuracy (%)


Cross accuracy


Dribble success


Mins per key pass

42 mins

Bryan Ruiz was known primarily for his attacking ability, but he could also create goals too. Already at Fulham, he has scored twice in his limited appearances and he is hitting the target with 37% of his shots, which indicate that more goals are on the way too.

What the Costa Rican was also known for at FC Twente, was his ability to create goals, having set up 18 strikes in his two seasons with the club. He has already assisted on two goals for Fulham, but his chance-creation of a key pass every 42 minutes, actually has him up there with some of the best in the Premier League.

Minutes per Key Pass

Juan Mata


David Silva


Danny Murphy


Gareth Bale




Stewart Downing


Mikel Arteta


Luka Modric


Bryan Ruiz


Sebastian Larsson


Juan Mata leads the way with an impressive chance-creation rate of one every 28 minutes on pitch. Bryan Ruiz is in pretty good company alongside the likes of Luka Modric and Mikel Arteta. With teammate Danny Murphy in third place, Fulham and interestingly Spurs, are the only teams to have two players in the top ten.


Bryan Ruiz can make goals as well as score them

Bryan Ruiz source of key passes dome from his dribbling and crossing ability, which are both excellent. The Costa Rican has a dribble success rate of 69%, as he already has made 22 successful dribbles, equivalent to one every 38 minutes on pitch. As way of a comparison, Victor Moses leads the Premier League with a successful dribble every 31 minutes. However, Bryan Ruiz is currently better than Nani, who makes a successful dribble every 40 minutes and Gareth Bale at 49 minutes.

At the end of a dribble there needs to be an end product and Ruiz’s crossing success of 30% is behind the likes of Jermaine Pennant (42%) and Matt Jarvis (40%). However, he is ahead of Nani (23%), Juan Mata (26%) and Stewart Downing (26%).

But it’s not just going forward where Bryan Ruiz has brought an added dimension to the Cottagers, it’s also on the Defensive side of the ball.

Bryan Ruiz defensively

Bryan Ruiz has also made a difference on the defensive end, winning his duels, ground tackles and recovering the ball back for Fulham.

2011-12 Season

Mins on pitch


Duels won


Ground tackles won


Mins per interception

45 mins

Mins per recovery of the ball

11 mins

The most impressive defensive quality Bryan Ruiz has brought to the team is his ground tackling, having won 87% of his 23 floor tackles so far. That equates to a successful challenge every 36 minutes on pitch. With top defensive midfielders like Lucas Leiva and Oriol Romeu winning a ground challenge every 25-30 minutes, Ruiz at 36 minutes is very impressive.

The Costa Rican is also reading the game well, as an interception every 45 minutes on pitch is good for a right-winger. In winning 50% of his one-on-one duels, he is also no slouch on the defensive side of the ball.

How Bryan Ruiz has affected Fulham

If we look at the numbers, then it appears as if nothing has really changed for Fulham, but when we consider the quality of opposition, then a lot has.


Average Premier League points

Bryan Ruiz on bench



Bryan Ruiz Starting



With Bryan Ruiz on the bench through Fulham’s first twelve matches, the Cottagers took just 11 points. The toughest opponents they faced were Man City and Tottenham, leaving them in sixteenth place just two points above the drop zone.

Since Bryan Ruiz has come in to the starting line-up, Fulham have raised their average points per Premier League match to 1.25. In this eight game run though, they have faced Arsenal twice, Chelsea, Liverpool and Man Utd. Martin Jol’s men only lost to the Red Devils and now sit in fourteenth, with a nice seven-point cushion to the relegation zone.

The secret to the success of Bryan Ruiz

Being a left footer operating on the right hand side of the formation, Bryan Ruiz likes to cut inside at the level of the 18-yard area. He barely makes it in to the final third of the pitch, but from this position just outside the box in the inside right channel, he is able to pick out Clint Dempsey, Bobby Zamora or Andrew Johnson and he has had much success doing it.

If we take a look at his first match starting in the team against Arsenal, we can see that Ruiz likes to pick the ball up just inside his own half. He then goes to work out on the wing, before coming inside just outside the Arsenal area, looking to slip in Johnson, Zamora or Dempsey.

On the defensive side of the ball, we can see just how much he works, as he covers the entire touchline, making nine tackles and winning five.


Bryan Ruiz cuts inside from the right flank just before the 18-yard area (left). Defensively he covers the whole flank (right).

Against Bolton we can see a similar thing happening. Bryan Ruiz picks the ball up and distributes it from the inside right channel on the halfway line, before moving out to the right wing. Once out on the right hand side of the formation, Ruiz is then looking to come inside just before getting level with the opponent’s 18-yard area. He barely makes it in to the final third of the pitch and even sets up Clint Dempsey’s goal from here (white line pass).

Bryan Ruiz also scored in the game and all of his four shots were from cutting in from the wing to the inside right channel at the level of the 18-yard area. One shot was blocked, two were off target, but one strike resulted in a beautifully chipped goal.


Bryan Ruiz again comes inside around the edge of the opposition 18-yard area, creating a goal for Clint Dempsey (left). He is also able to get shots away from the inside right channel, including a goal (right)

Against Chelsea, Fulham played with a much narrower formation to force the Blues wide down the flanks.


Fulham keep a very narrow formation to jam the middle and force Chelsea wide.

By jamming the centre of the park with Dembele (30), Murphy (13) and Dempsey (23) this means that Bryan Ruiz (11) played a lot narrower, but we can still see the same patterns happening with his play.

Ruiz still operates from the inside right channel on the halfway line before moving out to the right wing. With Fulham playing so deep – the average position of all players, apart from Orlando Sa (9), are in their half of the field – it means that he was having to do this from deeper. However, he is still able to cut inside to set up Dempsey for the goal (white line pass).

On the defensive side of the ball, again he was effective in making five successful challenges out of eight attempted. Due to Fulham playing narrower, all of his challenges are in the inside right channel, rather than down the flank like against Arsenal.


Bryan Ruiz played narrower, but is still able to get out to the wing and cut inside to set up Clint Dempsey's goal.

Fulham earned a creditable 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge and the industrious play of Bryan Ruiz was a big factor in securing a point.

What Bryan Ruiz does to make Fulham better

Bryan Ruiz had to wait for his chance at Fulham, but since he has come in to the line-up, the Cottagers have earned points against the better sides in the Premier League. The Costa Rican has not just scored goals, but he has also created plenty of chances with his key passes. Looking to cut inside from the right wing just outside the opposition 18-yard area, Bryan Ruiz has not only set up others, but also scored goals himself.

However, he has also shown that he is a two-way player and can help out on the defensive side of the ball. He reads the game well and is able to make interceptions as well as timely challenges that have won the ball back for Fulham.

Bryan Ruiz is now proving why a number of clubs were interested in securing his signature last summer.

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