Mid-season Review: Agalarov’s remarkable efficiency, Ejuke wizardry, all-round Adamov

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We have sifted through InStat’s data on the first 18 matchdays of the Russian Premier Liga season to bring you the best stats and figures.

7 - It will come as little surprise to see CSKA Moscow winger Chidera Ejuke topping the dribbling statistics after the Nigerian’s blistering start to the season. With 114 successful dribbles out of 183 dribbles attempted he leads the way in both statistics, working out at 7 successful dribbles per 90 minutes. Only Khvicha Kvaratskhelia can match that average, with nobody in the top 20 dribblers able to manage five.

11 - Dynamo Moscow’s title challenge came into sharp focus on the last matchday before the winter break as they welcomed reigning champions Zenit St. Petersburg to the VTB Arena with the chance to enjoy the New Year on top of the RPL. Their success has a huge amount to do with their extremely proactive approach to dominating matches; they have completed 11 successful pressing attempts in the opposition half per match, at least three more than any other side, with their 50% success rate the joint-highest.

16.7 - Krasnodar recovered from a bumpy run of form to end the first part of the season with a four-game unbeaten run to rest just two points behind second-placed Sochi in fifth. Their goals tally of 29 also ranks them fifth in the RPL so far, but they will rue their accuracy - and perhaps a little misfortune - for not being higher in that regard. They attempted 16.7 shots per match, more than any other side, but only hit the target 5.8 times per game for an accuracy rate of just 35%; only two sides were less accurate. Although forward Fedor Smolov attempted the most shots on goal with 51 and the joint-most on target with 23, he only has seven goals to show for it, while Viktor Claesson has hit the woodwork four times, more than any other player. They have even had the most penalties awarded (10), and yet converted just five for the joint-lowest conversion rate.

23 - There is no question who has been the surprise package of the campaign so far in front of goal. Gamid Agalarov’s season has been extraordinary in almost every single way, from a Russia under-21 debut and then four goals in four games for Mikhail Galaktinov’s side, to leading the RPL scoring charts comfortably on 13 goals. Perhaps the most remarkable part of that goal tally is that he only needed 23 shots on target to achieve it. Eighteen players attempted more shots on goal overall, with Agalarov himself boasting an incredible 70% shot accuracy rate; only Akhmat striker Mohamed Konate and Sead Haksabanovic have over 50%.

32 - Ural Ekaterinburg’s season has not been built on free-flowing goal-scoring wizardry for the most part; even after their record-breaking 4-1 win away to Rostov on the last matchday before the winter break, they still have just 12 goals to their name, by far the lowest tally. The gradual emergence of Ramazan Gadzhimuradov, Yuri Zheleznov and Artem Maksimenko may improve those specific fortunes, but they do at least have one RPL-leading attacking avenue - Denis Kulakov. The veteran full-back may be entering his mid-30s, but he has still managed to deliver more accurate crosses than any other player with 32, almost double his nearest challenger in the category.

33 - Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Remy Cabella understood this principle through the first part of the season, offering Krasnodar a real cutting edge to carve open opposition defences. Not only did the French flier play 33 successful key passes, six more than his nearest rival Malcom, but his success rate of 65% of all key passes attempted was only bettered by the Brazilian. Cabella also played more passes into the penalty area (80) than anyone else, averaging 5 per 90 minutes.

40 - Ural have built their season on the base of the second-best defensive record with just 18 goals conceded. One key element to that has been the emergence of a more youthful backline, spearheaded by Arsen Adamov. His versatility has been outstanding, as he has not just defended efficiently, but also progressed play remarkably well. His RPL-leading 73% success rate with take-ons has led to him being the most fouled player having drawn 40 fouls.

58 - Not many people gave Nizhny Novgorod much hope of challenging beyond the relegation zone after their debut promotion to the top flight, but for the first few matchdays they were flying. They may have only scored exactly one goal per game over the first 18 matchdays, but it’s not for want of trying; Nikolay Kalinsky in particular has been at the forefront of their efforts, delivering by far the most accurate crosses and corners into the penalty area with 58, at least 20 more than the next most productive player in the statistic. It wasn’t just from pure volume of attempts either, as he boasted an accuracy rate of 63% - the joint-highest.

59 - Wendel doesn’t perhaps grab quite as many headlines as his attacking Brazilian teammates Claudinho or Malcom, but without his assuredness in midfield they wouldn’t have the platform to dazzle with their magic in the final third. Although Ivan Oblyakov has played the most successful passes so far this season with 915, Wendel has an almost metronomic pass success rate of 93% - the highest in the league - which has led to 59 successful passes per 90 minutes. Only teammate Yaroslav Rakitsky comes close with 56 per 90.


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