How Good Is Zaha? Statistical Analysis

Would you buy a winger who is ranked 1st or 2nd in 9 out of 15 categories that show who's the best winger in his league?


Would you buy a winger who is ranked 1st or 2nd in 9 out of 15 categories that show who’s the best winger in his league? Sir Alex Ferguson would.

Wilfried Zaha will be remembered as Sir Alex Ferguson’s last ever signing. The former Crystal Palace man made a name for himself last season when, as a 20 year old winger, he led the Eagles back to the Premier League. Zaha’s reputation has grown immensely last season and Sir Alex believed that it’s not just because of “hype” but because the youngster has the potential to be the best winger in England.

Thanks to SPORTSMATRIX we will analyze how good Zaha is. And according to them –  he’s good.

A Reliable Creator

SPORTSMATRIX were founded 9 years ago and have specialized in organizing their collected data in the most “digestible” way possible.  According to them, when it is easier to understand what statistics make a winger better than another winger – it’s easier to understand why a manager like Ferguson brought him to Old Trafford for an initial fee of £10m (That could rise to £15m).

Zaha played 40 games last season – 21 games more than the average winger (19) – which points out to the fact that he is reliable and not injury-prone. He participated in a positive manner in 42% of his team’s attacks – that’s a lot better than the average Championship winger (29%). He improved his team’s attacks 5.7 times per game (average winger 3.1) –ranked 2nd in the Championship.

What does this mean? Zaha took his team from having simple possession to an area from which a chance could be created more than 5.7 times per game. That’s twice as much as an average winger. SPORTSMATRIX believe that getting your team into an area from which you can create a chance is almost as important as creating the chance itself.

His chance creation ability was the best in the Championship. According to SPORTSMATRIX he tried to create a chance 7.7 times per game, 3 times more than the average winger. In that category he was ranked first in the Championship. He created 2.1 chances per game (first in the league). His chances creation success rate was not the best (27% – 20th in the league) but it is still more than the average winger (24%).

Zaha’s one on one skills made him stand out as well. 19.8 dribbles per game made him the 2nd best dribbler in the Championship – 11.3 more dribbles than the average winger. Out of  his 19.8 dribbles – 8.8 were successful. If it sounds too little then bear in mind that the average winger only makes 3.3 successful dribbles per game. 0.9 of Zaha’s dribbles ended with him creating a chance. That’s a lot more than what the average winger creates with his dribbling ability (0.2 chances per game).

Zaha’s on the ground crosses (2.3 per game and 15% of these finished with a chance) are better than average. His air crosses are just above average. According to SPORTSMATRIX, Zaha is one of the 10 most reliable crossers in the Championship.

Moyes got his work cut out for him

David Moyes will have to improve Zaha’s shooting ability. Zaha, who will also need to get used to the Premier League style and speed, doesn’t like to shoot (maybe because he grew up admiring Arsenal?) and had only 2.1 shots per game (less than the average winger). Therefore he scored only 0.15 goals per game (the average winger scores 0.19 goals per game). However, Zaha did score some very important goals in Palace’s successful campaign that ended in a promotion to the Premier League.

Bottom line

SPORTSMATRIX see Zaha as one of the best players in the Championship and according to their stats he is one of the best wingers in England. If he’ll improve his shooting ability, he’ll be Sir Alex’s great parting-gift to his successor.





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