The above chart shows the most important passer for every team in the EPL, based on pass usage rate. Pass usage rate is calculated by taking a player’s passes per 90 min and dividing it by their team’s passes per 90 min. It represents the share of their passing contribution to their team.
Typically, a team’s most important passer is either a central midfielder or a defensive midfielder (see: Yaya Touré, Morgan Schneiderlin, Gareth Barry). Players in those positions should be the primary conduits for ball circulation. Therefore it is troubling—though not surprising given their form—that both Liverpool and Manchester United’s most important passers so far are defenders (Dejan Lovren and Tyler Blackett?!). This is an indication that both teams, while strong in possession, have not done a good enough job of advancing that possession to more dangerous areas of the field. It is still very early in the season, though, and the expectation is that Liverpool should be fine and Manchester United’s recent acquisitions Ander Herrera and Daley Blind will help. Also of note, West Ham’s Mark Noble—who has been getting recent support for an England call-up—is leading the EPL in pass usage for the second consecutive year.