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Left Wing Analysis: McClean's Soaring, But Competition & Cover Remain Healthy

James McClean firmly made the left wing position his own, but should the worst happen we seem covered.
James McClean firmly made the left wing position his own, but should the worst happen we seem covered.

Our week of statistical analysis by position comes to it's conclusion as we take a look at the left wing position last season for Sunderland.

A few players had a go at the position this season, but nobody more than James McClean made it their own after a stellar season from the young Irishman, capped in style by a call up to the Irish squad for Euro 2012.

Anyway, let's crack on as we review the stats and see if anything was proven one way or another about the position...

So filling the left hand side of midfield this season have been several players. James McClean as you're probably aware appeared there the most times with 20 games, followed by Seb Larsson with 7, Kieran Richardson with 6, Stephane Sessegnon with 3 and Jack Colback with 2 on the left of our midfield four.

We'll start off with the amount of passes completed from the position, and McClean leads the way as expected with 396, nearly twice as much as the nearest competitor Kieran Richardson who managed 187 in his six games on the left wing. Surprsingly, Seb Larsson only mustered just 104 in seven games, which looks quite terrible in comparison to say Stephane Sessegnon who managed 90 in just three games.

Despite completing the most, McClean also misplaced the most as his pass completion percentage was the least of everyone to play the role this season with 73.1%, compared to Larsson's 74.1%, Richardson's 75%, Sessegnon 81.3% and Colback leading the way with 83.5% over all.

Never the less, this was the only black mark on McClean's season as he went on to dominate in every other measurable available to us.

James made more key passes than anyone else on the left wing with 28 in his 20 games, but there could have been more competition on that front had Sessegnon continued in the position, as he was providing two per game with 6 in 3 games out wide. Larsson provided a healthy 12, while Richardson and Colback chipped in with 4 and 1 respectively.

McClean also provided 2 assists, as did Sessegnon and Richardson while Larsson added one of his own and Colback none in his two games on the left-hand side.

McClean did however bring goals, and contributed 5 in 20 games, putting him at our second highest goalscorer from midfield behind only set-piece specialist Larsson who had 7 goals in the whole season (3 from left wing). McClean could well have equaled that had he had a full season under his belt. Stephane Sessegnon added one of his own too.

Seven key contributions to the side in 20 games though is very very good though for a man making his debut in the Permier League, showing just what a great impact he had on our season.

When it comes to accurate crosses, finished or not, McClean contributed a very healthy 35, bested only in midfield by Seb Larsson, but again here the fact the Swede played much more games than McClean plays a major factor. Larsson added 10 from teh elft wing to go with his 44 from the right wing. Disappointingly though Richardson, Sessegnon and Colback only mustered 6 between the three of them from the same position as McClean.

We know McClean as an old-fashioned winger, and this was further proven as he lead the midfield in successful dribbles with 27 in the season, beaten only by arguably our most skillful player of the last decade, Sessegnon (65 total, 5 from left wing). The rest of those who played left wing only managed 11 between them, although it could be said none of them were playing their natural position out wide.

McClean's goals return of 5 came from 42 shots at goal, which is impressive given the only midfielder to take more was Craig Gardner who could only manage 3 goals from 49 shots. From purely the left wing position though, Larsson's goal contribution is equally impressive as he scored his 3 goals from just 8 shots on goal.

It's been speculated in some quarters that McClean could end up playing as part of an attacking trio of himself, Sessegnon and A.N. Other, possibly Steven Fletcher, and he certainly shows enough promise statistically to show this might not be the worlds worst idea.

It will be interesting to see if McClean gets moved around more next season as we know Giovanni Trapattoni has attempted to use him on the right of midfield for Ireland. We know McClean is an absolute star, and if he can add the ability to play both wings to his CV, it would be a huge boost for us and himself.

As far as looking at last season though, McClean clearly made the position his own, but I think we just might have adequate replacements already in the squad should the worst happen to McClean and he misses a few games. Larsson and Sessegnon have largely shown that they can step up and fill in, while Richardson and Colback are better off sticking with other positions.

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