Stephane Sessegnon is a player who we love and hate in equal measure it seems.
I've often said that this is perfectly encapsulated by the Fulham game away from home this season. Down at Craven Cottage this year he was abysmal all game, and a very early candidate to to get the hook with the game still in the balance. Then of course he pops up with a moment of magic and scores a contender for Sunderland Goal Of The Season.
It's been quite a while since we've had a player that can take you on such a roller-coaster ride, from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows and everything in between.
Ignoring all personal opinion though we decided to see how Sessegnon is doing this season in comparison to last year to this point. We've taken a look at the stats from August to the end of January in both the 2011/12 season and this season to see if Sess is having an up or down year.
Throughout these two period the amount of games played by Sessegnon is nearly equal with 22 last season and 23 this season. Things are also similar on the minutes played front with 1913 by this point last season and 1941 this season. An almost perfect time for comparison.
We'll start by looking at Sessegnon's creativity since that's one of his alleged main jobs in the team.
Last season at this stage he'd created 46 chances for teammates while this season he is nowhere near that level with only 29 created. Obviously the workload has been spread about with James McClean's rise to prominence and Adam Johnson's introduction to the team, but still the stats back up the fact we know he's is capable of better.
At this stage last year, in less games we should remember, he had 6 assists to his name too, compared to this season's paltry 2.
Often during games Sess cuts a frustrated figure that things aren't going his way. Against Swansea City last week he looked back to his best when the clear game plan in the second half was to get him on the ball as much as possible. Although in general this isn't a wise strategy in comparison to last season.
Sessegnon has attempted much fewer dribbles this season, with 74 in comparison to last season's 95. Of those dribbles however he remains about the same in success which slightly claws back some respectability for him, with 48% success last season and 46% success last season.
Something that is clearly creeping into Sessegnon's game is the amount of times he loses possession for us though, where stats are up on last season. slightly. He has been robbed of possession 59 times this season compared to 52 times last season and has in total lost possession (tackled, misplaced pass etc) a total of 314 times this season in comparison to 309 times last season.
We touch on the total losses of possession there but his pass accuracy remains around the same with 83% last season and 82% this season.
Goalscoring hasn't been particularly his forte this season either with only the 3 goals to his name this season in comparison to last years 5 goals.
This area is full of up's and down's for him however. He can point to the fact he's taken considerably less shots this season with only 39 in comparison to 60 last season at this stage, and he can also point to the fact his shooting accuracy is well up on last season with 52% compared to 39% last.
One thing's for sure though, he's not going to score many more goals if he's not in the area, and it's noticeable that despite playing the majority of this season in the same role he did last year 'in the hole' his entries to the penalty area stats are down. Sess has only ventured into the box on 30 occasions this season compared to 51 times last season at this stage. Something he is very much going to have to work on with Steven Fletcher often looking very lonely in attack.
Overall there's a lot of room for improvement in Sess' attacking game this season, and while he there's a myriad of excuses such as the introduction of Johnson, and various other stats covering for him, for me they don't hold a great deal of water and there's needs to be a bit of an improvement in his game for us to really see the best of him.
With rumours circulating all season that Aiden McGeady was going to be brought in, and for the record I think he will in the summer, plus the fact we wanted Tim Cahill on loan from New York Red Bulls, it's getting towards crunch time for Sessegnon to maintain his starting role in the side on a regular basis.
Stats provided by Opta. Correct as of 31/01/13.