Wilfried Zaha’s continued injury absence leaves Crystal Palace without their main source of goals – but the Eagles are not alone in missing a key man.
Over the last four seasons, including the current campaign, Zaha has missed 19 Premier League starts – the equivalent of half a season. Palace are almost a point per game worse off without Zaha in their line-up, the biggest difference for any player to have missed that many games.
Here, the PA news agency analyses the top five on the list, including several current or recent absentees, as well as one player who is on track to join them.
Wilfried Zaha, Crystal Palace
— Premier League (@premierleague) September 12, 2020
Starting: P 118, W 42, D 32, L 44, 1.34 PPG
Not in XI: P 19, W 2, D 1, L 16, 0.37 PPG
Points difference per game: 0.97
Just two wins in 19 without Zaha in the starting line-up tells a clear story, and a team on only a 51-point pace for the season when he plays can ill afford to be without him.
Their goals scored also drops from 1.25 per game with Zaha to 0.37 without him, and their goal difference from -15 in 118 games to -28 in 19.
Jack O’Connell, Sheffield United
Starting: P 34, W 13, D 10, L 11, 1.44 PPG
Not in XI: P 27, W 4, D 4, L 19, 0.59 PPG
Points difference per game: 0.85
The Blades have been unable to back up last season’s successful return to the top flight, and playing without O’Connell since September may have a lot to do with that.
The defender has played just twice this season and has missed 27 games in total across the two campaigns, with United managing just four wins and 16 points in those games – conceding more goals (45) than in their 34 games with him (31).
Allan Saint-Maximin, Newcastle
SB on Allan Saint-Maximin:
"The team picked itself against Crystal Palace because Everton was easily our best performance of the season. Allan is fit, we are pleased with him and he's ready to start so let's hope he can have the impact we all know he can have." pic.twitter.com/MF1YPkLmor
— Newcastle United FC (@NUFC) February 5, 2021
Starting: P 32, W 14, D 7, L 11, 1.53 PPG
Not in XI: P 29, W 4, D 8, L 17, 0.69 PPG
Points difference per game: 0.84
Manager Steve Bruce welcomed the recent recovery of the flying French winger after a spell sidelined by coronavirus, and Saint-Maximin marked his return to the starting line-up with first-half assists for Joe Willock and Miguel Almiron in a 3-2 win over Southampton.
Newcastle’s win percentage drops all the way from 44 per cent to 14 without Saint-Maximin in their line-up, emphasising his importance.
Virgil Van Dijk, Liverpool
Starting: P 95, W 72, D 15, L 8, 2.43 PPG
Not in XI: P 19, W 9, D 6, L 4, 1.74 PPG
Points difference per game: 0.69
The Liverpool defender is one of this season’s highest-profile absentees, having played such a key role in last season’s title triumph.
Without him, and several other injured centre-backs, the Reds lie fourth and trail leaders Manchester City by 10 points having played a game more – though interestingly, the main difference in their statistics is at the other end of the field, scoring 2.25 goals per game when Van Dijk starts and 1.79 when he does not, with their goals against almost unchanged.
Hugo Lloris, Tottenham
❌ “Lloris has got to move on.”
⛓ “He is a weak link, I really think they need an upgrade.”
😰 “Lloris does not fill the back four of Spurs with any confidence.”
— talkSPORT (@talkSPORT) February 11, 2021
Starting: P 112, W 64, D 21, L 27, 1.90 PPG
Not in XI: P 24, W 8, D 6, L 10, 1.25 PPG
Points difference per game: 0.65
Lloris was labelled “a weak link” and “chocolate wrists” by ex-Spurs players turned talkSPORT pundits Jason Cundy and Jamie O’Hara after his errors against Everton in Wednesday night’s FA Cup defeat, with Cundy adding: “He’s got to move on”.
Be careful what you wish for. Spurs have won over half their league games with Lloris in the side in the last four seasons, compared to just one in three without him, and he concedes 1.01 goals per game compared to 1.29 for his replacements.
Honourable mention: Raul Jimenez, Wolves
— Wolves (@Wolves) December 11, 2020
Starting: P 83, W 35, D 25, L 23, 1.57 PPG
Not in XI: P 16, W 3, D 4, L 9, 0.81 PPG
Points difference per game: 0.75
The striker’s long absence with a fractured skull is currently three games short of our half-season threshold.
Were he to qualify, though, he would rank ahead of Van Dijk in fourth as it stands with Wolves’ goals per game figure dropping almost a third, from 1.29 to 0.88, without the talismanic Mexican leading the line.