Analysed: What your Premier League club’s biggest strength and weakness is

Alex Keble picks out where each top-flight team is winning and losing this season using the award-winning Stats Zone

Arsenal

Strength

The primary difference between this season and last is Arsenal’s rediscovery of width. They're often so narrow and therefore easily thwarted by deep defensive shells, but the rise of Hector Bellerin – coupled with Mesut Ozil’s new propensity to drift into the left channel – has widened the pitch and created more space for Alexis Sanchez and Aaron Ramsey in the middle.

Weakness

A lack of depth in defensive midfield threatens to derail their title challenge. Last season, Arsenal averaged 1.4 points per match without Francis Coquelin in the team and 2.35 with him. Similar statistics defined this season before his injury, and though they have so far adapted well in his absence they have almost exclusively faced relegation candidates. The 4-0 defeat to Southampton was a warning.

Aston Villa

Strength

Villa’s key asset is their aerial ability; they win more duels (20 per match) than any other team, largely thanks to Rudy Gestede (6.5 aerials won per match, most in league). However, Remi Garde doesn’t like to play as direct a style as Tim Sherwood, and thus Villa rarely exploit this advantage.

Weakness

Villa have only scored 16 league goals this campaign, and it’s difficult to see them improving significantly on this tally in the coming months. Garde’s use of inverted wingers and short-passing build-up play is ill-suited to a team without confidence; technical skill and quick movement often suffer when self-esteem is low.

Bournemouth

Strength

The aggressive pressing and fighting spirit of Bournemouth’s central midfield has been startling. Few expected Harry Arter and Andrew Surman to dominate so comfortably at this level, but these two average 115.4 passes between them each game – making 4.3 tackles and 3.2 interceptions in the process.

Weakness

Although their short-passing, high-pressing approach is commendable, Bournemouth stick too fervently to this philosophy. They lack a Plan B, thus explaining why they have managed to pick up just one point from a losing position this season; a more direct, urgent approach is sometimes needed.

Chelsea

Strength

Chelsea’s lifeless performances this season have produced few positives, but they do remain excellent at dribbling with the ball – particularly in the final third. They complete 11.3 dribbles per match (fourth most in league) and are fouled more times (13.5 per game) than any other team; Eden Hazard, Willian, and Pedro can all attack back fours with menace.

Weakness

Chelsea are remarkably soft in central midfield. Cesc Fabregas was permanently excluded from this position by Jose Mourinho towards the end of his tenure, and although John Obi Mikel has returned under Guus Hiddink effectively, the Spaniard is still something of a defensive liability. His weak tackling and positional indiscipline were the direct cause of numerous defeats in the first half of the season.

RECOMMENDED Michael Cox: How John Obi Mikel again showed why Guus gives him all the fuss

Crystal Palace

Strength

Alan Pardew has mastered the perfect deep-lying counter. His team retreat into a compact, conservative unit (they make fewer tackles, 18.1 per game, than any team in the top 10) before pouncing forward with alarming speed down the flanks when possession is overturned (77% of their attacks come down the wings, the most in the division). Tactical coherence is their main strength.

Weakness

Eleven of Palace’s 23 league goals have come from set-pieces, and their top goalscorer is penalty taker Yohan Cabaye. They are in desperate need of a striker, preferably a strong targetman who can help hold up the ball when launching counter-attacks and get on the end of those fizzing Wilfried Zaha/Yannick Bolasie crosses.

Pages