Balotelli is City’s best chance of overtaking United for the title

Alan Hanson recently described Mario Balotelli as “a damaging distraction at the Etihad Stadium”, highlighting the growing perception that the Italian has become more hassle than he is worth to Roberto Mancini. Mancini himself has criticised Balotelli several times in the past week although he’s also defended him, saying that the media overhype everything Balotelli does and that ‘teammates should concentrate on playing’ instead of talking about Mario.

However, Castrol stats show that Mario Balotelli has been one of the most dangerous strikers in the league this season, averaging a goal every 93.69 minutes. This is over ten minutes more frequent than any other player (with at least 10 goals) and comfortably superior to his team mates Edin Dzeko (1 goal per 110.77 minutes) and Sergio Agüero (1 goal per 117.8 minutes).

In other words, not only is Balotelli the most efficient goalscorer that Manchester City have this season, but he also boasts a better conversion rate (25%) than the league’s top scorer, Robin van Persie (23%).

With Manchester United seemingly running away with the league title, City need every single player to be at 100% for them. Balotelli is often criticised as not trying enough – but if Mancini can change that (starting against Arsenal), City will have a genuine match-winner on their hands.

Minutes per goal in the 2011/12 Premier League

 

Prem 11/12

Team

Goals

Mins/Goal

Balotelli, Mario

Manchester City

13

93.69

van Persie

Arsenal

26

104

Rooney

Manchester United

21

107.62

Dzeko

Manchester City

13

110.77

Agüero

Manchester City

17

117.18

Hernández

Manchester United

10

132.7

Yakubu

Blackburn Rovers

14

135.43

Ba

Newcastle United

16

135.69

Holt

Norwich City

12

147.17

Sturridge

Chelsea

10

180.2

* only including players to score 10 or more Premier League goals this season

 

Conversion rates in the 2011/12 Premier League


Prem 11/12

Team

Goals

Conversion Rate %

Yakubu

Blackburn Rovers

14

29.2

Lampard

Chelsea

10

28.6

Hernández

Manchester United

10

27.8

Balotelli

Manchester City

13

25.0

Holt

Norwich City

12

24.5

Ba

Newcastle United

16

24.2

van Persie

Arsenal

26

23.0

Rooney

Manchester United

21

22.3

Agüero

Manchester City

17

21.5

Graham

Swansea City

10

20.4

* only including players to score 10 or more Premier League goals this season

 

Most goals as a substitute in the 2011/12 Premier League

 

Prem 11/12

Team

Goals as a substitute

Anichebe

Everton

4

Balotelli

Manchester City

3

Defoe

Tottenham Hotspur

3

Dzeko

Manchester City

3

Holt

Norwich City

3

Mackie

Queens Park Rangers

3

Vellios

Everton

3

As Balotelli showed against United in October, if you supply him with chances he will take his with considerable aplomb. With Dzeko better at winning penalties than scoring goals, Aguero with boils on his feet and Tevez still not match fit, City may seem lightweight upfront. But if Mancini can get the team to play with Balotelli as the focal point in attack, his pace, awareness and strength will enable him to get into scoring positions.

If you take into account the regular criticism against Balotelli that he ‘disappears’ for most of the game, his conversion rate becomes even more impressive. If Mancini can ensure that he gets more involved and the team can support him better, we might see a sustained display of the class we’ve only seen glimpses of so far.

If a City striker was through through on goal, you’d want it to be Mario. Against Arsenal’s sometimes dodgy defence, Balotelli could make the difference, keeping City in the title race and giving them the self-belief that they can still reel in Manchester United.

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