Some FPL managers with Alexis Sánchez in their teams have begun to question whether the Arsenal winger merits his place. A meager haul for an 11.0m player of one assist in 278 minutes of football is making them twitchy.
A look at the Chilean’s underlying statistics quickly reassured me that I was right to keep him in my team for now. He is top among midfielders for shots and shots in the box, and doing well for shots on target.
Then, yesterday, I studied his shots visually, noticed a lot of blocked shots and decided to do some digging. Were blocks this common for all players and I just hadn’t noticed before? If not, had Sánchez been unlucky or was he abnormally likely to have his shots blocked?
I looked at four sets of data: Sánchez’s blocked shots this season; Sánchez’s blocked shots last season; all blocked shots in the league this season and all blocked shots in the league last season.
With only 40 Premier League matches played this season, the sample size is small but the percentage of all shots blocked this year (27.7 per cent) is already similar to last season (28.2 per cent).
Sánchez, however, does have more of his shots blocked: 34.7 per cent last year and a whopping 45 per cent this year.
The sample size for Sánchez this season is very small and we will probably see his percentage of shots blocked regress, but the data from last season suggests he could still see a greater proportion of his shots blocked relative the rest of the league.
Given his impressive shooting statistics, I don’t think this is a reason to drop him yet but there could be merit in making a mental discount of five to ten per cent for blocked shots when reviewing those figures.
Having seen a potential issue in the statistics, we will need a visual inspection of his play to work out why he has proportionately more shots blocked. Are opposition teams doubling up on him defensively, or does he shoot from poor positions, or a combination of both, or is it something else?
I have only seen Sánchez’s 24 minute cameo in Gameweek 1 so I can’t answer those questions. If you have seen him play this season I’d be delighted to hear your thoughts.