A passing phase?
Sky Sports looks at the key performers from the latest round of Europa League fixtures and assesses their statistics for assists
Last Updated: November 28, 2012 11:23pm
Steven Gerrard: Liverpool's captain produced 16 passes in the final third of the pitch, two key passes and one assist
Liverpool's Steven Gerrard and Newcastle United's Hatem Ben Arfa were the only two players from British clubs to feature among the top 25 passers on Matchday Five of the Europa League.
Research by Western Union's PASS initiative, which is turning every successful pass in this season's Europa League into funding to support one day's education for young people around the world, has highlighted a worrying statistic for managers of Premier League sides.
Liverpool captain Gerrard came 12th among the top 46 after producing 16 passes in the final third of the pitch, two key passes and one assist - setting up Joe Cole's goal - in his 59-minute substitute appearance in the 2-2 draw with Young Boys at Anfield.
Meanwhile, French forward Ben Arfa, despite playing just 40 minutes before being forced off through injury in Newcastle's 1-1 draw with Maritimo, was 24th in the list with five passes in the final third, two key passes and one assist.
But the pair are by far and away the standout players from British clubs in the Europa League, with just Tottenham Hotspur's Gareth Bale as the only other representation in the top 46 after registering five passes in the final third and two key passes in the 0-0 draw with Lazio.
The statistics will be a concern for Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers, whose side's hopes of qualifying from the Europa League group stages are hanging by a thread, and, despite already booking a place in the knockout stages, Newcastle manager Alan Pardew.
Tottenham head coach Andre Villa-Boas, who knows his team's fate rests in their meeting with Panathinaikos, will likewise know any hopes of success will rely on increased and shared creativity from all squad members.
In total, German, Italian and Scandinavian clubs surpassed the Premier League by producing four players among the top 42 passers on Matchday Five while Portuguese and Greek clubs matched the British representation of three.
Tricky Anzhi Makhachkala winger Mbark Boussoufa was the star man from Matchday Five as the former Chelsea youth player delivered 25 passes in the final third of the pitch, five key passes and one assist in the 2-0 win over Udinese which led to progress to the last-32 stage.
Ex-Newcastle man Emre (Belozoglu) was second in the statistics after Atletico Madrid's summer signing contributed 20 final-third passes, five key passes and one assist to set up Raul Garcia's winner against Hapoel Tel-Aviv and secure qualification for the knockout stages.
Former Manchester United Academy member Magnus Wolff Eikrem's 30 passes in the final third, two key passes and one assist saw him sit third in the statistics despite Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's already-eliminated Molde suffering a 2-1 defeat by Copenhagen.
For more information on the Western Union PASS initiative, and for up to date passing stats on each team and individual in the UEFA Europa League, please visit, www.wu-pass.org