It’s the new year so plenty of bloggers and journalists are assembling their Team of the Season So Far. Napoli players and Sarri seem to be conspicuously absent from many of these lists and this led me to examine the highlights of all of the Napoli Serie A matches so far this season.
Hungover? Napoli fan? Here are the official league highlights highlights of the 1st half of this bloody brilliant season. #ForzaNapoliSempre
— @franksidekick (@franksidekick) January 1, 2018
Looking back at the 19 games so far, the player who most turned my head wasn’t our record breaking captain, neither was it the indefatigable Allan, rather it was last season’s hero, Dries Mertens, who was the man that seemed to drive the team when we win or play well:-
In fact, I’m going to say he is our most important player, in fact, Adam Digby rated Mertens Serie A’s best player of 2017, and I agree.
What Say you, Dries?
If you are reading this then I strongly recommend you look back at the Genoa highlights https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XDHrxKhmDws – his goals are utterly sublime – I know the Lazio goal gets the most plaudits but the take down and finish for his second in this game is world class forward play.
So, inspired by the King of Stats, Ken Cioffredi, I went through all of Mertens’ games and put together this table of what he did against whom. Green games are ones with either an assist or goal (or both) from him and red ones indicate that neither occurred.
Well, usually, when we win, Mertens scores or sets up a goal: out of the games he has started this season, only four victories have come without an assist or a goal. The ‘dip’ that came around the Champions League exit and the Juventus loss features in the biggest red period on the table – i.e. games where Mertens was not influential. Sarri’s lack of rotation is a clear factor since, going back over the highlights, it was obvious that our Belgian star player was completely exhausted.So what patterns are revealed?
The driving force in the recent resurgence against Torino and Sampdoria were two players – Allan and a visibly revitalised Mertens – although Dries didn’t score, the assist stats back this up. Getting Hamsik back to form is undoubtedly an essential component of the Scudetto push but keeping Mertens fresh and able to influence games is just as important for us to bring the league trophy home come the end of the season.
By Frank Sidekick Follow @FrankSidekick