Statistics from the Premier League show that Ayoze Perez is one of Newcastle’s most creative players this season.
The stats will come as a surprise to some Newcastle supporters, with the player regularly being criticised his performances this campaign.
However, Perez is still not letting the critics get to him, highlighted by his new ‘fingers in the ears’ celebration.
The Spaniard scored Newcastle’s only goal in a 2-1 defeat to Wolves on Sunday, and was named Man of the Match for his display.
It was certainly an improved performance from the divisive forward, yet he remains a frustrating figure on Tyneside. But whatever you think of him, it’s obvious that statistically Newcastle are a lot worse without him.
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Big chances and through balls
In a team where Jonjo Shelvey is seen as the man who can unlock a defence, it’s Perez who has actually done it.
His four through balls betters both Shelvey and Matt Ritchie, who both have three.
According to Opta, the definition of a ‘big chance’ is: “A situation where a player should reasonably be expected to score, usually in a one on one scenario or from very close range when the ball has a clear path to goal and there is low to moderate pressure on the shooter.”
So essentially, Perez has created more one-on-ones than any of his teammates except for Ritchie.
Despite only having one assist, it’s fair to say Perez has created some wonderful opportunities in his last few matches.
Against Everton he threaded in Christian Atsu in the final minute, only for the winger to fluff his lines. And he also provided a wonderful pass for Joselu against Burnley, which the big striker fired off the post.
Perez is not adverse to missing his own big opportunities, but had his teammates had their shooting boots on, he’d definitely have a lot more assists this season.
Newcastle’s most creative player?
There is of course the argument that Matt Ritchie is still the Toon’s most creative player.
The winger has hit an astonishing 92 crosses this season, almost triple anyone else in the side. The Scotsman also has two assists to his name, which trumps Perez’s mediocre one.
But it’s certainly a close call between the two.
Last season the pair had the joint most assists for Newcastle with five, and it could be a similar story this season.
However, some fans will argue that the stats simply prove neither player is creative enough.
Perez currently plays as a number 10 for Newcastle and so it’s his job to make things happen.
When you compare his ‘big chances’ created with the rest of the league, 33 players have created more and another 32 have matched his output.
This is perhaps why a section of supporters are so critical of him. Even though he is the main attacking threat in the team, his numbers are still not high enough.
Newcastle play fellow strugglers Huddersfield and Fulham in their next two games, and it’s a big chance for Perez to build on his form.
If he can score again or notch a few assists, the Perez boo boys will be forced to go quiet.