The most important stat will always be the final score. That’s what gets you points and points are what define a season. However, in recent years possession has become a statistic thrown out by the media regularly, but has the possession statistic become overrated in the modern game?
Pep Guardiola made possession-based football the trend during his time at Barcelona. It was like nothing seen before and when you have players like Andres Iniesta, Xavi, and Lionel Messi it was made to look easy. Suddenly clubs all over the world were trying to implement what had become known as tiki-taka football.
Possession – It’s what you do with it!
Possession suddenly became the be-all-end-all statistic for the cool kids. Except it was never about how much possession you had but rather what you did with it. Again, when you have Messi, Iniesta, and Xavi you can pretty much do whatever you want.
Now, after a weekend of scoring in the Premier League, the possession statistic seems to be on life support. Of the six games that ended up in wins three of those were won by the team losing the possession war. Everton continued Arsenal’s struggles, Manchester United trashed Leeds United 6-2 and Leicester City upset Tottenham Hotspur despite ‘losing’ the possession statistic.
The United trashing of Leeds was probably the biggest nail in the possession statistic coffin. Even with 59%, Leeds were torn apart at every opportunity by Ole Gunnar Solksjaer’s men. United were more than happy to let Leeds possess the ball in non-dangerous areas before pressing and counter-attacking with speed. It resulted in six goals with two coming in the first three minutes.
I’m not saying throw the possession stat away but realistically it is not the be-all-end-all like it was during Guardiola’s Barcelona reign. It’s what you do with the ball rather than how much you have it. Just ask Arsenal who had 58% possession on Saturday but lost 2-1 to Everton.
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