Football and statistics. Don't you just love them eh? They go together so well, like Rosemary & Thyme, Sharkey & George, Gates & Gabbiadini and many other wonderful combinations.
With the likes of this internet thing becoming more popular, statistics are becoming more and more commonplace. there's even blogs and Twitter accounts didcated to purely relaying us the latest stats on quite good players which work us up into a frenzy... "Xavi completed 89341 passes against Jarra Blind School"... Phwoar! Pass me a sports sock, I'm off to my room for
10 no 5 ... about 2 minutes.
Back to the point though, it's the same old faces in the stats department. We're rolling out the same old crap to make the best players look even better. It's long been said though that stats can be twisted to prove anything you want, and tha'ts exactly what I'm going to do here.
Sunderland AFC, by the far the greatest team the world has ever seen? Damn right. Here's the proof...
Some people, including myself, think John O'Shea has been alright and little else since his move from Manchester United in the summer. How wrong we all are. John O'Shea has a whopping average of 2.1 interceptions per game. I'll tell you who hasn't done that, Dani Alves (1.2). Based on that, I know who I'd rather have.
Lee Cattermole has had a bit of ill-will towards him of late. But his whopping 4.5 tackles per game beats out most midfielders in Europe's top leagues. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it everyone not named Javi Venta (Levante) or Hugo Campagnaro (Napoli)... Yeah, think of all those other names, and none of them as good as our Captain.
Michael Turner might indeed have the turning circle of a massive yacht, but another thing he has in common with a massive yacht is it's bloody hard to get past him. So much so in fact he only gets dribbled past on 0.3 occasions per game. The likes of Philipp Lahm (2.2 per game), Javier Mascherano (0.5), Mats Hummels (1.4) all look like mugs in comparison. Mugs I tells thee.
Turner is also very deceptive. He makes us think he's just hoofing the ball up field, but actually his 1.8 accurate long passes per game dwarf the likes of Bastian Schweistieger (0.6), Cristiano Ronaldo (1.2) and closer to home David Silva (1.2)
Now statisticians will often tell you that Xavi is the worlds greatest human being, and boy does he love to pass the ball, however when it comes to Key Passes, aka the ones that actually matter, he's nothing. Nothing!.. Our boy Sebastian Larsson whups him, 2.7 to 2.0, not to mention Seb is much better looking. 2-0 to Sweden.
Leo Messi might well be the second coming of Jesus Christ, but I tell you what Sunderland fans, neither Messi, nor Christ are as good at passing than our own David Vaughan. Vaughan's completion rating of 88% beats Messi's 84%, whilst Jesus' aren't available. We'll assume none.
Not content with conquering Latin America, Vaughan would also be second if he was playing in Serie A with his 88%. Bettered only in Italian top flight by Daniele De Rossi (89%), and over in France it's better than everyone (highest 86%).
What about our boy Sessegnon too? He's certainly up there with the greatest, and bettering most of them. Sess' 2.0 successful dribbles per game doesn't seem like much, but it's better than £40m man Javier Pastore (1.7), his replacement at PSG, and much better than Brylcreamed ponce Cristiano Ronaldo (1.2).
So I think it goes without saying, when you next hear a cry around the Stadium of Light which says "We're by far the greatest team..." sing it with passion because it's true, and the stats are there to prove it.
Stats correct as of one very bored afternoon, 01/11/11.