Scott Parker is the reason for Spurs solid form

Scott Parker was the Football Writers’ Association player of the year last season while at West Ham. After the Hammers went down, Parker moved across London to White Hart Lane on transfer deadline day, and since his arrival Spurs are undefeated in the Premier League, having won seven and drawn once.

Parker’s form in those eight Premier League games when he has pulled on the Lilywhite shirt have been nothing short of exceptional, which has resulted in praise that his performances were worthy of the great Dave Mackay.

Scott Parker had a great season last year with West Ham, but what he is doing at Tottenham has the team unbeaten in the Premier League and playing some great football as well.


What is the reason he is playing better than last season, and the grounds for Spurs’ success? Scott Parker now has a defined role within his team.

At West Ham, Parker had to be Mr. everything for the Irons. From his central midfield role he scored goals, created them and also had to put in the challenges to win the ball back. The result was that he was stretched all over the park. Now at Spurs, Parker has a defined role and he is showing even better form as a result, which is benefiting the entire Tottenham team.

How do we know? If we compare between last season at West Ham and this campaign with Spurs, it brings out some interesting results if we break down each part of his game in turn.

Scott Parker going forward

If we compare Scott Parker going forward last season with this year, the difference is quite amazing, especially if we break down his shots at goal and key passes per minute:
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2010-11

2011-12

Minutes on Pitch

2738

707

Goals

5

0

Assists

2

1

Total Shots

29

2

Mins per shot at goal

94

354

Key Passes

38

5

Mins per key pass

72

141

.
If we compare Scott Parker going forward last season against this year, we can see that he was a lot more attack minded for West Ham. Parker had to be the driving force from the middle of the park for the Hammers and he did it well with 5 goals, 2 assists and 38 chance creating key passes.

At Spurs, Parker’s role is to win the ball and distribute it to the playmakers – Luka Modric, Rafael van der Vaart, Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon. He has only taken 2 shots at goal in a Spurs shirt, with an effort at the opposition net every 354 minutes, compared to a shot at the target every 94 minutes with West Ham.

Scott Parker also doesn’t have to create chances, as he is supplying a key pass every 141 minutes at Spurs, compared to every 72 minutes at West Ham.

If we take a look at two heat maps from a home and away game while Scott Parker was at West Ham (below), we can see that he is doing his work all over the field and being stretched. On average he is only working 35% of the game in his own half winning the ball back and spending 65% in the opponents half.

Scott Parker was stretched all over the field for West Ham

If we look at heat maps (below) from his last two matches home and away with Spurs, we can see that he is now spending 65% of the game working in his own half, winning the ball back and distributing it to the Tottenham playmakers.

Scott Parker now has a defined role playing 65% in his own half

Scott Parker on the defensive side of the ball

Having seen that Scott Parker has relinquished his attacking responsibilities and now spends 65% of the game in his own half, we can see how much of an effect it has had on his play on the defensive side compared to last season:
.

2010-11
(With West Ham)

2011-12
(With Spurs)

Minutes on Pitch

2738

707

Mins per duel

7

6

Mins per duel won

13

11

Mins per tackle

23

15

Mins per tackle won

29

21

Mins per interception

33

32

Mins per clearance

62

51

Mins per block

91

101

Pass completion

82%

90%

.
Scott Parker is winning duels and tackles more often, so he is winning the ball more frequently this season for Spurs. He is also making more interceptions and clearances this campaign, as his role is to play just inside the Spurs half.

Scott Parker is winning a tackle every 15 minutes with Spurs

When he is winning the ball back, he is retaining possession for the side by distributing it more accurately, as his 90% pass completion rate indicates. The reason for this increase in pass completion rate is that this season Scott Parker is making shorter passes. Last year with West Ham, he was making longer passes further up the field and so consequently his accuracy was lower.

The effect of the play of Scott Parker on Spurs

Now that Scott Parker has a more defined role at Spurs, the effect on the Tottenham team has been two-fold. Firstly, they are more balanced defensively and conceding less. Secondly, they are able to commit more players to attack knowing Scott Parker is mopping up behind.

After losing their first two games before his arrival and conceding eight times, Spurs have now won seven and drawn once with Scott Parker in the line-up, only allowing seven goals. They have vastly improved at both ends from last season with him on the field:
.

Spurs
(2010-2011)

Spurs with
Scott Parker
(2011-12)

Goals scored per game

1.5

2.5

Goals conceded per game

1.2

0.9

.
With Scott Parker in the team this season playing the holding role, it is allowing the attacking players to go and play up the field. Spurs are now scoring 2.5 goals per game in the Premier League, and although the signing of Emmanuel Adebayor has helped, the defensive play of Parker cannot be underestimated.

Where Parker’s introduction can be measured is on the defensive side of the ball. This season Spurs are conceding 0.3 goals per game less in the Premier League withhim in the team, and looking more of a solid outfit than they were in the last campaign.

Scott Parker is the reason for Spurs solid form

Since Spurs signed Scott Parker they have been in a tremendous run of form. Now that he is not being asked to be an attacking and defensive presence, Parker’s play has not only improved, but also that of his team has as well.

Scott Parker having a defined role is really bringing the best out of him, and after wining the Football Writers’ player of the season last year, I wonder if his performance this term will gain equal attention?

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One Response to Scott Parker is the reason for Spurs solid form

  1. Thomas G November 14, 2011 at 1:07 pm #

    Super post! Just like your blog professionalism! Keep up the good work.