I mentioned on Twitter recently that Squawka have begun to publish statistics for Championship games. Now, I’m a big fan of what they do, and I’ll try to illustrate why that is here, with a few images demonstrating how Danny Ward influenced yesterday’s 5-1 victory against Yeovil. Firstly, here’s Danny’s areas of influence which, given he was nominally playing on the left wing, indicate how often he cuts inside with the ball.
That’s the polar opposite of Adam Hammill on the right flank, who stayed out wide far more often. As a result, Hammill put in seven crosses from his flank, rather than Ward’s four, although Danny Ward got the assist – such is life.
Now, that’s all well and good, but it would leave Huddersfield lacking somewhat in the left-wing department. Excepting that that is exactly the role filled by the full-backs. Paul Dixon’s chart isn’t the action areas, its the heat map. His main involvement is bombing on to fill in the space that Danny Ward often vacates when he cuts inside – look at the trail of green and yellow going forward.
Again, that’s in polar opposition to what happened on the other flank. Tom Smith, relative newcomer to the side, spends his time far more focused in the defensive area of the game – foraying forward only occasionally, though to good effect (he, too, gained an assist, from only three crosses). That’s not a bad thing, and that imbalance of full-backs (though Dixon plays more as a wing-back in – ostensibly – a 3-5-2 – while Smith is the right-sided centre-back) is something you see mirrored elsewhere; think of Roma’s Maicon bombing forward while Leandro Castan stays that bit more reserved at left-back.
In short, with James Vaughan absent, Mark Robins deployed Danny Ward in a way that he would be able to influence the game without leaving his three-man defence exposed. It would be interesting to see if Ward who was reportedly one of two strikers in the 3-5-2 would be able to perform the same role when Vaughan is available but take on a little of Paul Dixon’s work covering him.
I’m sure there’ll be more of this sort of thing to come in future. Thanks again, Squawka.