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Beautiful Soccer: The Most Creative Teams In The Premier League?

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Just over a quarter of the way through the Premier League season, which of the league’s top teams has distanced itself as the most creative group?

The Premier League is off to a roaring start in 2016/17, and the top four is tight company at the moment. Chelsea sits at 22 points, just one point behind Liverpool, Arsenal, and Manchester City, all at the top with 23. 

It is no coincidence that those four teams also have scored more goals than anyone else so far in the Premier League. Chelsea have the fewest goals of the quartet, but at 21 goals they are six ahead of Everton, next-best with 15 so far in the campaign. Defense, as always, is important, but these teams can create goals.

About a quarter of the way through the season, there is plenty of soccer to be played, and more than enough ways these teams can slow down. But, for now, they prove to be the most creative teams in the Premier League. But, how do they stack up against one another?

In the goalscoring department, Chelsea’s two best attackers, striker Diego Costa and winger Eden Hazard, have eight and five goals respectively. Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero is next with seven, Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez has six, and Liverpool’s front three of Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino, and Sadio Mane each have four goals so far. Of the top five goal scorers in the league (which consists of eight players at five goals or more), five of the eight are from these four teams.

City’s Kevin De Bruyne leads the way in assists with five, and among the many players knotted at four is Coutinho. Arsenal has two players, and City, Chelsea and Liverpool each have one with three assists this season. In terms of pure creation, Manchester City has the upper-hand—David Silva leads the league with 27 chances created. Coutinho and Firmino each have 25 chances created, Chelsea’s Willian has 24, and Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil has 21. Each team has players at the top of the list for attacking categories, but what demonstrates just how creative these teams are is how their prime playmakers work as units.

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These four players stand as the most all-around creative player for their club so far this season.

At Manchester City, Sergio Aguero leads the line, with Silva, De Bruyne, and Raheem Sterling behind him. Between that group, 13 of City’s 24 goals so far were scored. The quartet has combined for nine assists and 70 chances created—51 of which came from Silva or De Bruyne.

Arsenal is led in creativity by Ozil, who has made 21 chances so far. However, after contributing 19 assists last season, he has just one in the Premier League so far, albeit accompanied by three goals. The three rounding out their creative quartet, Alexis Sanchez, Theo Walcott, and Santi Cazorla join Ozil in combining for 61 chances created, 16 goals, and eight assists.

Chelsea stands as the team with the least creative foursome, mainly because they only have three main attacking pieces, and the fourth fluctuates. Eden Hazard and Willian do much of the providing, while Diego Costa does the finishing. The fourth-most creative player on Chelsea is most likely Oscar. As a team, they have created 68 chances, with 24 coming from Willian and 19 from Hazard. They’ve combined for 15 goals, but just five collective assists. Oddly enough, four of Chelsea’s assists have come from holding midfielder Nemanja Matic, who has created just 10 chances all season.

Liverpool tops this list as the most creative team in the Premier League this season, and that is playing a huge part in their early title charge under Jurgen Klopp. Coutinho and Firmino have a combined 50 chances created just between them, while Sadio Mane and Adam Lallana’s contributions add that total up to 73, more than any other string-pulling quartet in the Premier League. Though the group has combined for 15 goals, equal to Chelsea’s total and one less than Arsenal’s, they are more involved in the buildup to goals, proven by their 10 combined assists. It’s also worth noting that, of the four penalties Liverpool have converted in 2016/17 (all by James Milner), three were drawn by members of this group—two thanks to Firmino drawing fouls, and one via a deliberate handball blocking a Coutinho shot. Even when they aren’t scoring or being credited with assists, they are creating opportunities by earning penalties. 

Whether this high-flying attack will be able to keep it up remains to be seen. Meanwhile, any of the other three teams are more than capable of turning it up a notch and surpassing their creative rivals. Regardless of what happens in the future, it remains clear that creating chances and goals gives you the best chance of winning matches. Tottenham is undefeated, and tied for the most clean sheets in the league, however, they have put just 14 goals on the scoresheet, and are on the outside of the top four looking in. 

The four teams at the top are all within a point of each other or level. While that is sure to let up and see some separation, the creativity will likely remain to at least some extent. Will the most creative team hoist the trophy come May? That remains to be seen.

Edited by Julian Boireau, Coleman Gray.

SQuiz
How many assists did Philippe Coutinho have in the 2015/16 Premier League season?
Created 11/5/16
  1. 5
  2. 8
  3. 12
  4. 17

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