With a goal from a pin point accuracy free kick and an assist from an equally as special corner for Southampton against Manchester United this weekend, it’s no secret that James Ward Prowse is somewhat of a set piece specialist. His fantastic corner service handed Jan Bednarek Southampton’s opening goal, before scoring his ninth free kick in the Premier League – his third this season so far.
He’s had a total of six attempts on goal directly from set pieces this season, three of which have been converted. This astounding success rate certainly underlines James Ward-Prowse as one of the best in the Premier League set piece industry at the moment. Sky Sports pundit Jimmy Floyd-Hasselbaink commented “His delivery is just so good, he does it game after game. His consistency is second to none”
Since his first appearance in the Premier League in the 2012/13 season, He’s totted up 9 goals directly from free kicks, more than any other player in that time period, beating ex Tottenham Hotspurs star Christian Eriksen and Manchester United’s Juan Mata, who both come in at second with 8 each. It’s obvious from the stats alone that James Ward-Prowse likes a dead ball situation and very few players can match the sheer quality that he shows when trying to put the ball past goalkeepers from outside the box.
Looking at the all-time statistics, David Beckham is the only English player to have scored more goals directly from free kicks, with a whopping 18 of his attempts hitting the back of the net. Whilst Ward-Prowse is on equal standings with the likes of Frank Lampard and Jamie Redknapp, the Southampton Captain is only two goals from free kicks away from being on par with Cristiano Ronaldo, who scored 11 goals directly from free kicks during his time in the Premier League.
Taking a different angle on Ward-Prowse’s astounding ability to change games through dead ball situations, he comes second in the rankings for chances created from set plays in the Premier League since 2012/13, creating chances on a whopping 171 occasions, second only to Gylfi Sigurdsson who managed to create 204 chances with a dead ball in front of him.
Perhaps Ward-Prowse’s best performance to date with relation to set pieces would be Southampton’s clash with Aston Villa in early November, when the Englishman scored two free kicks and created one other goal all from dead balls, helping the Saints go on to beat Dean Smith’s side 3-4 in a match that was full of VAR controversy.
The Southampton midfielder makes no secret of the fact that he models his free kicks on David Beckham’s and it is plain to see that he practices his technique with a work rate that is second to none. He makes it incredibly difficult for goalkeepers to stop his attempts through his fantastic ability to make the ball move whilst still maintaining a pace that any goalkeeper would struggle to get a hand to, let alone keep out of the net.