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Trying to find the good in Holt: a stats-based look at Villa's newest player

A look at Aston Villa Grant Holt in four different statistics.

Clive Brunskill

We've got a very special edition of Villa in Four Numbers today, as we take a look at the club's newest acquisition. Is Grant Holt still an effective player, and what can we expect out of him. Let's see!


Holt's pass success rate this season with Wigan. That takes into account 272 passes over 11 appearances (9 in the Championship and 2 in Europa League play). This is down from his 2012/13 season at Norwich City where, in the Premier League, he successfully completed 64% of his passes. But even that's a pretty poor number, if we're honest here. That said, I'm okay with the low completion rate: he's a striker. Complete your passes to the back of the net and we'll be happy.

I merely point this out because I've seen a few people (on this site and elsewhere) suggesting that perhaps Holt could drop back and play an attacking midfield/creative role. I don't think they're crazy, but I do think they're remembering a previous iteration of Holt (before 2012/13 perhaps, the Holt that won Norwich City's player of the year award three times in a row). As it stands, putting Holt in midfield (even in an attacking role) and expecting him to create chances would likely be a horrible idea. Please, Paul Lambert, never try this.


The ratio of appearances to goals for Holt while he played with Norwich. 124 of those appearances were as a starter, and Holt demonstrated remarkable ability to find the back of the net in that time. As you can see, he did better than averaging a goal every other appearance. During his time at Wigan, the ratio dropped to 11/2, which makes it seem as if he has fallen off the cliff since his arrival in the Championship. But hidden in those fantastic Norwich numbers is a terrible (by his standards) season.

In the 2012/13 campaign, his last with the Canaries, Holt only managed 8 goals in 34 Premier League appearances, or approximately one goal every four times he stepped on the pitch. He was pretty clearly already entering his decline while he was with Norwich City, and I think that's why Chris Hughton was willing to part with him over the summer, despite Holt having signed a 3-year deal in 2012.

Now, the good news is that we know Holt has the ability to score, and do so in droves. Take out that poor final season, and in Holt's time with Norwich City, he scored 70 goals in 112 appearances, which is astonishingly good. If Holt can recover even part of that form, he'll be an extremely valuable asset, helping Aston Villa's beleaguered attack where they need it most.


The number of cards that Holt has picked up in Championship play this season. My memories of Holt are of him careening recklessly into defenders while announcers chuckle at the veteran showing these young people how it's done. They could say that all they wanted, the reality was that Holt often played dirty, reckless football. Now, he didn't get carded for it a ton (much to my surprise), as he only had 8 yellows in Premier League play for Norwich City last year, but it seems that he's even gotten that in check a bit.

Maybe with an extra year of age, Holt has calmed down a bit and isn't quite the bull in the china shop that we knew him as. If so, that would certainly be good news, as Aston Villa certainly don't need any more yellow cards coming from anywhere on the pitch. (For those curious, it's now 48 yellows in 21 EPL matches for Aston Villa. Still top of the league in something!)


The percentage of Holt's shots in the Championship this season to find the back of the net. That's not great. But to be fair, no one on Villa is doing all that great either. In league play, Christian Benteke is getting 12.2% of his shots in, Gabby Agbonlahor has 10.7%, and Libor Kozak has stunk up the place with... oh wait, he's been amazing. Kozak has watched 36.4% of his shots become goals.

But Holt can rest assured that he won't be the worst player for Aston Villa in this department. After all, Aleksandar Tonev and his countless shots (actually, 21) has zero goals. Just get one, Grant, and you'll be better than Tonev.


Bonus, non-Holt number:


Since I'd been keeping track, I figured I ought to give you this one. It's the number of (playing) minutes it had been since Christian Benteke had scored his last Premier League goal. So this came as a welcome relief.


Now score 100 more, Christian.