Football Features

Stats suggests “fantastic” James Maddison is ready to become the new Premier League assist king

By Harry Edwards

Published: 14:48, 7 October 2023

James Maddison was once again the main man on the road for Tottenham Hotspur, who beat Luton Town 1-0 to go top of the Premier League.

Last season, Tottenham lacked a primary playmaker in the Premier League. Ivan Perisic, Dejan Kulusevski, Son Heung-min and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg were the only players to record at least five assists. While it was good to have a few sources of goal contributions, some of the better teams had one man that they could rely on when all others failed.

So despite Harry Kane leaving in the summer, Tottenham’s main goal was to sign a chief creator, with Son and Richarlison taking up the goalscoring responsibilities. In Maddison, they’ve signed a blinder.

During his five-year stay at Leicester in the Premier League, Maddison recorded 32 assists, the eighth-most in the top flight between 2018/19 and 2022/23. He was more prolific in scoring goals, netting 43, and his lower assists tally could be explained by the quality of his teammates, rather than Maddison himself. Between 2018/19 and 2022/23, Maddison created 347 chances in the Premier League, the third-most in the division, only bettered by Kevin De Bruyne and Trent Alexander-Arnold.

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This season, Maddison stands clear above the rest. Although he has played a game more at the time of writing, Maddison leads the way in the Premier League for chances created, with 25 so far this season. Four of those came against Luton on Saturday afternoon, including one to set up Micky van de Ven’s opener.

It wasn’t an easy afternoon for Tottenham, who missed three ‘Big Chances’ inside the opening 10 minutes, including one from Richarlison at the far post where the Brazilian resembled a defender trying to clear the ball.

Despite being in control, Tottenham rode their luck and had a foul by a Luton player to thank for Tom Lockyer’s goal being disallowed, as they failed to properly deal with a set piece.

Things got harder just before half time, as Yves Bissouma was sent off for two yellow cards, the second for simulation just outside the Luton box. The first yellow was going to see him suspended anyway for picking up five for the campaign, but it’s worth noting Bissouma will instead serve a one-match ban for the sending off, with the two yellows counting as a red. That means Bissouma’s next yellow card will see him serve another suspension for reaching the five threshold.

But just over five minutes after the start of the second half, Tottenham were ahead. They had a couple of corners to test the Luton defence, with the first taken by Maddison. As he made his way to the other side of the pitch for the follow up corner, it was taken quickly by Dejan Kulusevski, to Maddison.

The Englishman was quick to react while receiving the ball, turning and taking on the defender, moving close to the six yard box. His cut-back found Van de Ven, who did well with his finish given the pass was slightly under his feet. Van de Ven was the 167th different player to score for Tottenham in the Premier League (excluding own goals), the most for any club in the competition’s history.

Maddison’s fifth assist of the season, he stands clear at the top of the Playmaker Award chart right now, adding to his two goals. But what’s remarkable is that all seven of Maddison’s direct goal involvements have come away from home.

On the opening weekend he set up two goals in the 2-2 draw against Brentford before scoring in consecutive away games at Bournemouth and Burnley. There was another brace of assists against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium, before assisting the winner at Luton.

This shouldn’t really come as a surprise, though. Maddison has been been directly involved in 22 goals in his last 23 away Premier League appearances. Since the start of last season, only Erling Haaland (19) has been directly involved in more Premier League goals away from home than Maddison’s 18 (level with Mohamed Salah). Salah joins Maddison level on 10 at the top for assists alone.

Speaking after the game, Rio Ferdinand highlighted the impact Maddison has had on Tottenham for the price, signed for £40m.

“A lot of the Spurs fans would have been panicking, losing sleep at the fact that Harry Kane had left. And to think that you’ve got Maddison as a replacement for £40m in the current market, at that value, he has to be looking like one of the best value for money signings of the season so far,” he said.

“He’s involved in everything, most chances created, most assists in the season, phenomenal start for him.”

Maddison’s teammates are very appreciative, too, with Son telling TNT Sports before kick-off: “I love [Maddison], he does everything.

“When we’re not having good build-ups he’s going back to help a little bit with the defence.

“He’s a fantastic player. Having this guy on our team is something special. He’s been amazing.”