Head to head stats: Henry (Wolves) v Essien (Chelsea)

Paddytheflea continues with the comparing of statistics between individual players ahead of the clash on Saturday at Stamford Bridge. We have already looked at a comparison between the centre-backs Craddock and Terry (HERE) and it’s time to move to midfield. Tomorrow I will present two strikers.

I still firmly believe that these simple analytics can say something about the strengths and weaknesses of the players and of their teams. And that they will be much more common in the future of elite football.

Karl Henry, 26, is the Wolves captain and a very appreciated and consistent player. Statistics has revealed that he runs further than Gerrard and Rooney in a match. He came from Stoke three seasons ago. He is one of our most experienced players. He has played all 12 matches so far this season.



Michael Essien, 26, comes from Ghana and was Africas most expensive player until this summer when Adebayour surpassed him. He came from Lyon in 2005 and is nicknamed ‘The Bison’ because of his tough tackling-style. He is of course a Ghanaian international. The Chelsea fans voted him Player of the Year in 2006-7. He missed almost the whole of the last season with injury. He scored a stunning goal with a 35 yarder against Blackburn this season. He has played 11 matches for Chelsea this season.

Let’s move along and present the statistics then and compare the defensive midfielders.

Season 2009-10
Henry Essien
Fouls won and / conceded / % won
22 /12 /65%
19 /13 /59%
Tackles won and / lost / % won
21/4 /84%
Accurate passes % / Attacks created
81% / 10
88% /8
Goals / Assists / Shots on goal
0 /0 / 1
1 / 0 /8

I will now analyse these statistics and try to find a reasonable explanation to the differences between the players.

Fouls: Both players wins more fouls than they concede. In Henry’s case much more. He wins over two thirds of the fouls he is involved in. In todays football with players much more skilled in set pieces it is a negative to concede fouls even in the middle of the pitch. But it is of course not so negative for midfielders as for those in the back line. But Henry has a clear advantage over the £25 million pound man from Chelsea here.

Tackles: The tough tackling style of ‘The Bison’ is not showing in the statistics.  In reality Henry wins much more tackles than Essien. And he tackles more as well. This is  another strong area and combined with that he’s not conceiving a big percentage of fouls it is clearly one of the strong sides of Henry’s play. Maybe ‘The Bison’ has become meek in later years?

Passes and Attacks: Both players has a very high percentage of accurate passes. That is a must for the players who delivers balls to the others in the team and to give a ball away in midfield to the opposing team does often result in an attack from the other team. But Essien has an edge on Henry here. Perhaps because the Chelsea team is stronger over all and Essien can pass the ball in a more ‘tempered climate’.

It surprises me that Henry has started more attacks than Essien. Even if we take into account that he has played one more match over Essien. One minus and one plus for Henry in this category. Henry is a good passer when compared to the others in Wolves, but not compared to Essien, Sagna (89%) and other top players in top teams.

Goals, Assists and Shots on goal: Most defensive midfielders don’t get forward a lot to shoot and score. Essien is an exception. He is very good on long distance shots, buts seldom scores (12 in 112 matches). That shows in these figures as well. One goal in eight shots on goal is not impressive. It’s natural that Henry is located further back this season. We know that he can go forward, but when playing in the Premier it is better to have him more on the defense, helping the back four out.

It’s time to sum up and make some conclusions. Henry is a very good defensive midfielder and so is Essien. But if I would have the choice four years ago to buy Essien for £24,4 million pounds or Henry for £175.000 I sure know who I would choose.

Henry excels in tackles and doesn’t let many fouls go to the opponents. He creates more attacks than Essien but he got to work on his passes. It can be a question of getting used to a higher tempo,  but of course Henry is sat more under pressure than Essien  when moving the ball up.

Henry stands up very well against the world star Essien. Goals and assists are other players shores. Actually I’m not totally sure that my choice would be Essien if they came with the same price tag.

I hope you have enjoyed this brief statistical comparison. If you don’t agree with my analysis and interpretation of the statistics, make your own. I love to get comments on this, so don’t hesitate to write. I’ll be back with comparing two forwards before kick off on Saturday.



~ by paddytheflea on November 20, 2009.

14 Responses to “Head to head stats: Henry (Wolves) v Essien (Chelsea)”

  1. Haha LOL. Essien is a little bit better..

  2. since when was Agbonlahor from Africa and who has he been sold to ? He’s English and still playing for Villa !

    • It should be Adebayor of course. I’m sorry ’bout that. I have a hard time with names sometimes, but should have checked this better.

  3. Statistics dont lie and to my shame I know absolutely nothing about Karl Henry. I will just say that no Chelsea fan thinks 24m for Essien too expensive. We were a lot weaker last year without him and I am convinced every club in the world without exception would find a space for him in their starting 11.

    Can you imagine how he would transform either Manchester United or Arsenal?

    • I think Arsenal has an equally good – if not better – defending midfielder in Song. He is much better at tackling and even slightly better in passing. Carrick in United is better than Essien at creating attacks, according to the statistics at hand – but is not as good at passing as Essien. And passing skills are very important for a defensive midfielder. But we are of course talking about some of the worlds best players here. What I am saying is that Henry – according to these statistics – should be counted in as one of them. The fact that he doesn’t play in a top four team should not be put against him. Watch him come Saturday!

      • I’m sorry I dont mean to be all parochial in a biased fan sort of way but is this the Song that Arsenal fans dont rate much who only plays there because they have no one else or the Carrick that wouldnt be playing at all if Hargreaves were fit.

        You have made some valid points with your statistics but I still believe that week in week out Essien would walk into and improve any team in the world including Arsenal and Manchester United.

      • Actually I believe that the Arsfans rates Song very highly. I had some banter with them a couple of weeks ago. But I think that both Song and Essien lack tackling skills, but are very good at passing and passes through as very good defensive midfielders because they play in teams that don’t need a ‘hard man’ in the back, but a player that builds the offensive play rather than protecting the back four.

        That is my interpretation from the data, anyway. And I believe that means that neither Essien nor Song would do a good job at teams like Wolves when the tackling and defending skills are much more important. So you can rest easy and keep your highly rated ‘defensive’ midfielder. He will not fit our play.

  4. Well I was just bound to come back wasnt I?

    I still reckon – Any team in t he world – even Wolves!!

    • O.K. If you offer Essien to us I’m willing to consider him on a trial. A 5 year long one.

  5. The fact that he doesn’t play in a top four team should not be put against him. Watch him come Saturday!Did he platy in the end??

    • Yes he did platy. You’re home from the Pub I guess 😆
      You’re welcome to the GoldenPalace Molineux February 20th.

  6. Your statistics are very misleading. You can select statistics like you have to back up any point if you want to, doesn’t give the full picture though, does it?

    There is more to football than the percentage of fouls, tackles, goals etc that a player has won. Not to mention that someone may have made 300 more accurate passes than another player but have a slightly lower success rate.

    Also Essien isn’t a traditional tackler that will win the ball cleanly, he’ll hassle opponents all over the field and cause them to lose possession through pressure. He can completely dominate the midfield of any top club in the world, something Henry will never do.

    You also fail to take into account dribbling. Essien will often pick up the ball in his own half of in the centre of the pitch and drive the run of play foward with his power, before passing it on.

    • I’m not sure that the stats are misleading. Maybe my interpretation of them sometimes.
      But, as you mention, there are much more to it than the few stats I’ve presented. Uunfortunatly there are not so much stats out there to get for free. And Essien was really awesome Saturday. Congratulations to your win.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: