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Sports Features of Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Source: Ghana Soccernet

How crucial is Jordan Ayew's return from suspension?


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Jordan Ayew returns from a three-match ban on Tuesday, here's what the Opta stats say about his importance to Villa compared to the other relegation-threatened sides' strikers.

Ayew could be set for a return to Premier League action against Everton on Tuesday following a three-match ban for a petulant elbow on West Ham left-back Aaron Cresswell.

The forward is Aston Villa's top scorer in the league this term with five to his name but came under fire for the manner of his sending off earlier in the month.

Despite the suspension, Ayew remains one of Villa's biggest attacking threats and he will have to be on song if the Claret and Blues are sent to Roberto Martinez's side packing without any points.

But just how influential is the Ghanaian?

Here we take a look at the Opta stats which show just how important the 24-year-old is to Villa's cause.

One area Ayew is clearly essential for Villa in is scoring goals.

The Ghanaian international has netted five times for the Midlands club, helping to salvage points against Newcastle United and West Ham in the process.

With five, Ayew has almost a quarter of his side's goals and his two goals from outside the box make up half of Villa's long-range strikes.

For a player used predominantly as a wide-man, his tally is more than useful for a side that can only muster a goal per game ratio of 0.78.

Villa stats

Not only that, but Ayew is the only Villa forward with a better conversion rate than Joleon Lescott.

With five of 22 shots finding the back of the net, the Ghanaian is streets ahead of the rest of his attacking teammates with a conversion rate of 22.7% - followed closely by Lescott on 20%.

Ayew also leads his teammates in his minute per goal ratio of 282.8 - with Rudy Gestede next in the list with a ratio of 292.3.

The minutes per goal ratios behind the two front-runners does not make for pretty reading for Villa fans, with Scott Sinclair chalking up one goal every 567 minutes and Carles Gil every 615 minutes.

Ayew's goals will be essential in Villa's next fixture as well as throughout the rest of their campaign for safety, but more players need to contribute - it speaks volumes about the club's lack of ability in front of goal that Villa's third top league scorer is own goals.

Although we can compare Ayew to his misfiring Villa teammates, it may be a more interesting exercise to compare the forward to other goalscorers in the relegation scrap.

Ayews

Jordan's brother Andre has been widely regarded as one of Swansea's best players this season as the South Wales club looks to cement their place in the Premier League next season.

His eight goals have contributed to his team picking up 15 points this term, showing how crucial his goals have been for the struggling Swans.

Although he has helped his side claim much-needed victories, the Ghanaian's statistics are not as impressive as his brothers.

Jordan has a better minute to goal ratio, shooting accuracy and passing accuracy than Andre and has even won a higher percentage of tackles.

Although Andre has created more chances and has more assists than his younger brother, Jordan's finishing has been better than the Swansea striker's.

Mitrovic

Jordan Ayew also has better minutes per goals ratio than Newcastle United's new talismanic forward Aleksandr Mitrovic.

The Serb has made a name for himself on Tyneside for his work rate and hold-up play, but the Ghanaian is more clinical than the Toon Army's number 45 in front of goal.

Again, Ayew trails on assists as Mitrovic has the ability to bring his on-rushing midfielders into play, but a shooting accuracy of 48.8% is much inferior to the Villa man's 63.6%.

Mbokani

Norwich's main striker Dieumerci Mbokani has scored four goal since arriving at the Arriva Stadium on loan from Dynamo Kiev at the start of the season.

The 30-year-old has a minutes per goal ratio of 253.8, which is marginally better than Ayew's, but has a shooting accuracy of 57.1% - not as good as the Ghanaian's.

Mbokani also plays down the middle when on the pitch for Norwich, with Nathan Redmond and Robbie Brady occupying the wide positions, allowing the Congolese striker to make runs into the box.

If Ayew were to be utilised down the centre of the park, his goal-scoring form could see an improvement instead of being stranded on the left wing - but with Adama Traore out injured, there are no immediate replacements for Ayew on the flank.

Defoe

If Sunderland avoid the drop this season there is only one person to thank - Jermain Defoe.

The 33-year-old has single-handedly kept the Black Cats within touching distance of the rest of the pack and his goals have contributed to capturing 11 of his side's 24 points this year.

Defoe's stats blow the rest of the strikers' away and it epitomises the necessity of a goal-scorer whilst vying for Premier League survival.

Ayew is undoubtedly Villa's biggest attacking threat and his goals from the wing have allowed fans the smallest glimmer of hope - but he is a winger.

The Opta stats show how important Ayew is for his side, but they also highlight how desperately they need a goal-scoring striker in the mould of Jermain Defoe.

The Villa man will undoubtedly have a large role to play in his team's quest for survival, but in the long-run the Claret and Blues must sign a striker with a nose for goal if they are to bounce back into the top-flight and stay there.

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