Phillipe Coutinho (LIverpool) vs Angel Di Maria (Manchester United)
Statistics can be terrible, terrible pieces of information. That is not to say that they cannot be used for good but more often than not they are twisted and plotted to within an inch of their life until all sense of logic and rationale are out the back door. A lovely graphic on Sky Sports that compared Philippe Coutinho and Angel Di Maria statistically is the clearest example. Captioned as ‘Coutinho’s best season vs Di Maria’s worst season’ the screen-grab of that statistic has been doing the rounds in all houses of banter on social media. Cue the social media frenzy.
It is most certainly a very interesting comparison between Liverpool’s creator in chief and playmaker against the man that many Man United fans hoped to become their new creator in chief. The underlying reason this has become such a wildly debated topic is that the Old Trafford faithful are trying to make a case for the coverage Di Maria’s season has received pointing out that it wasn’t as bad as it was being made out when you take into consideration that Coutinho has been nominated for the PFA Player of the Year with stats similar to Di Maria, if not worse. So how have the 2 South Americans actually racked up the numbers this season ?
Phillipe Coutinho (Liverpool)
Not every Liverpool contract remains unsigned, controversial, gathering dust for months this season. In January, Philippe Coutinho stated that he hadn’t discussed a contract extension with his agent or the club as he still had three years remaining. In February, he committed his future to the club until 2020. The exception is developing into the exceptional at Anfield.
In the six-man lists for the PFA Player’s Player and the Young Player of the Year awards, Philippe Coutinho probably doesn’t stand out as a favourite, but the Liverpool playmaker’s inclusion is a deserved one. The Reds’ 2014/15 season has been far from the breath-taking high of 2013-2014 or the classic campaign of 2008-2009 but somehow, as we approach the final half a dozen games in a frustrating season for Reds faithful, the Reds are still in with a chance for a top-four finish and Rodgers has Coutinho to thank for most of it.
The attacking midfielder, in the absence of the departed Luis Suarez has taken over the mantle of Liverpool’s chief creative outlet, developing his attacking game of effortless flicks and fearless tricks to a new level of maturity tactically.
It’s likely that those who voted for the little Brazilian were those who have been on the receiving end of one of his classy performances. It’s easy to imagine anyone whose job it was to tie him down to be adversely affected and extremely impressed both at the same time when he was really in the mood. When on song, he is a nightmare to face as he always carries the potential to make any defender look very foolish.
End product and results that’s what separates the greats from ‘potential’ and it’s still something Coutinho must add to his game on a regular basis. While the lack of consistency throughout the whole season raises eyebrows, Coutinho’s presence in the top six – an accomplishment in its own right; was possibly an acknowledgement by his peers voting when his star was in the ascendancy.
Angel Di Maria (Manchester United)
The reputation and the price tag that former Real Madrid star Angel Di Maria brought with him to Manchester United led most to expect the Argentinian to take the Premier League by storm. Sadly, that has not been the case and as at the moment the former Madrid man is rotting on the Old Trafford bench behind an inform Ashley Young.
Despite the Argentine’s recent struggles performance statistics indicate that Di Maria is making a greater impact on Louis van Gaal’s team than it would look like. Only Chelsea midfielder Cesc Fabregas has created more goals in the Premier League than Di Maria this season setting up an impressive 16 goals for Jose Mourinho’s league leaders.
To be fair to the Argentine; he has suffered from fitness troubles this season – namely, hamstring and pelvic injuries that have restricted his appearances to just 19 starts and two substitute appearances in the league, while he was also deprived of a settling-in period at Old Trafford owing his late-August arrival. Had he been more fortunate with injuries, and arrived a little earlier, it is plausible that his ‘assist’ figures may have been closer to Fabregas, who has started 25 games and been substituted once for Chelsea.
During his 21 appearances in the league, Di Maria created 46 goalscoring opportunities with about a quarter being converted into goals.
With 500 less minutes played, Di Maria leads Liverpool’s Coutinho in all major attacking statistics bar goals scored; in which the Brazilian leads by just a single goal. With such parallel statistics, how is one player viewed as a nominee for PFA player of the year while the other is viewed as a flop?