Commentary

Handing out EPL awards

With the season almost over, it's time to give out our awards

Updated: May 19, 2011, 3:46 PM ET
By Albert Larcada | ESPN Stats & Information
NaniAP Photo/Matthias SchraderNani is the top 5 in many of SPI's EPL awards categories.

Welcome to "Awards Season" in the English Premier League. This is the time of year when every soccer show, website and blog will begin unveiling its "EPL Awards of the Year." Best player, best manager, best transfer -- everyone will have an opinion.

Most pundits will focus on the basic numbers: goals scored, team record, clean sheets … things of that nature. We wanted to go a little deeper and give you more concrete evidence on the standout performers this season.

Using ESPN's Soccer Power Index (SPI) and OPTA's detailed play-by-play information, we've created a few awards based on objective numbers from this Premier League season. Some of these awards are more on the fun side, but some do actually tell a story of which players have contributed most to their team's success.

Most passes completed in the attacking third

To be on this leaderboard you need to have many traits. First, you must play a lot of minutes. It's difficult to complete passes in the final third, or anywhere on the pitch for that matter, if you are on the bench. Second, you must have good attackers around you. The passer is only as good as his pass recipient. Third, you must have creativity. Once in the final third of the pitch, the number of defenders starts increasing while empty space starts decreasing. Only imaginative players can be successful over a long period of time.

Albert Larcada is an Analytics Specialist in ESPN's Stats & Information group. Among other analytics projects, he maintains, advances and writes about ESPN's Soccer Power Index (SPI) algorithm.