Do Manchester United actually need this PSG star?

Manchester United have already been busy in the transfer window and the amount of rumours surrounding players in and out is as high as always. According to reports, Blaise Matuidi is a player on their radar but do United actually need the Paris Saint Germain midfield maestro? Lewis Addley explores

Blaise Matuidi has impressed so far during the European Championship and had yet another consistent season for Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint Germain last term.

The 29-year-old midfielder has been linked with a move away from the French capital and Manchester United appear to be frontrunners the Frenchman.

Jose Mourinho is keen to get his business done early in the window and prepare his squad to challenge on all fronts from the first whistle and there are no doubts about the qualities Matuidi could bring to their midfield.

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In Ligue 1 last season Matuidi had a pass completion of 92%, he won 54 tackles, played 20 key passes, made 46 interceptions and 18 clearances.

Used in a predominately holding role, Matuidi also impressively created 26 chances for teammates, while he registered six assists and scored four goals. With all those stats in mind you could be forgiven for referring to him as the ‘complete’ midfielder.

But do Manchester United actually need Matuidi?

Problems and weaknesses across the pitch were well documented last season for United and they looked vulnerable when opposition teams were counter-attacking. A solid midfield is something football fans have become accustomed to from Mourinho and Matuidi’s stats scream out solidity.

To assess whether United actually need Matuidi we have to look at their current players who could and have played in the same holding role. Three players who are suited to playing in that position in the current United squad are Michael Carrick, Ander Herrera and Daley Blind.

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At this stage of the window it appears only Carrick’s future is secure, with speculation about Herrera and Blind refusing to go away. If all three are in Mourinho’s plans he would have a healthy selection of players to choose from and the possibility of Matuidi as a fourth option would arguably lead to some selection headaches for the United boss.

So let’s have a look to see how the three players mentioned compare to Matuidi… 
(Statistics provided by Squawka).

Last season, Blind bettered Matuidi’s key passes with 24, while Herrera totalled 19 and Carrick managed ten. The PSG midfielder’s 92% pass completion was highest, although the lowest percentage was still impressive, coming from Blind and Herrera with 84%.

Matuidi scored and assisted more than any of the United midfielders, whose combined goals and assists came in at just seven compared to his ten.

Blind made the most successful tackles with 67, interceptions with 80 and clearances with 127, bettering all three of the other players in question.

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Finally Matuidi created the most chances, managing one more than Blind’s 25, while Herrera came in with 21 and Carrick only managing ten.

With these stats in mind it wouldn’t be wrong to suggest Blind is currently the strongest candidate in the United squad in comparison to Matuidi. It would appear United would benefit from signing the Frenchman and there is no doubting his experience and quality, but whether or not they are in desperate need for him is questionable.

Do United need to sign Matuidi or are their current options good enough? Should Mourinho prioritise strengthening his squad elsewhere?

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Aston Villa officially relegated for first time in 28 years

Aston Villa’s long-awaited relegation has been officially confirmed following the club’s 1-0 loss to Manchester United today, ending a run of 28 consecutive seasons in English football’s top flight.

The Villains have been simply dreadful this season with major struggles on and off the field confining them to their worst season in their 141-year history.

Manchester United youngster Marcus Rashford may have scored the goal that confirmed Villa’s relegation today, but most fans knew they were doomed from December onwards.

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Villa have won just three games all season and are left 15 points adrift of Norwich in 17th place with four games to play. Their performances have been appalling and preparations for life in the Championship next term will now begin.

Interim manager Eric Black is unlikely to be the man in the dugout come August, but whoever takes over will be stepping into one of English football’s most troubled clubs, with major problems left to be addressed throughout the structure of the organisation.

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Black is the team’s fourth manager this season, following on from Tim Sherwood, Kevin MacDonald and Remi Garde, who were all unable to inspire a squad of players who look out of their depth in the Premier League.

Quality first-team players left the club last summer but none were replaced properly. Losing the likes of Ron Vlaar, Fabian Delph and Christian Benteke meant the season was always going to be tough but few could have anticipated just how bad things have been.

Table: Aston Villa have struggled enormously in every aspect this season.

Table: Aston Villa have struggled enormously in every aspect this season.

The Villains are one of only seven English clubs to have played in every Premier League season to this point but that run will now come to an end.

Two other Premier League clubs will join Villa in the Championship next term, with Newcastle, Sunderland and Norwich all battling for their lives at the bottom of the table.

Aston Villa bounced straight back up following their last relegation in 1987, but a repeat of that achievement looks highly unlikely at this stage, with one of English football’s most historic clubs in complete disarray.

Do you think Aston Villa will bounce straight back up to the Premier League next season? 

Five key facts following Newcastle’s appointment of Rafa Benitez

Newcastle made a key managerial change on Friday, with Steve McClaren’s sacking paving the way for Rafa Benitez to be appointed within just a matter of hours.

The Spanish boss will return to the Premier League for what will be his third job in the top flight, following previous spells with Liverpool and Chelsea, but faces what is set to be the biggest challenge of his career at St James’s Park.

Newcastle are 19th in the Premier League with ten games to go and are embroiled in a relegation dogfight – something Benitez has not been involved with in his managerial career as of yet.

Benitez is someone who clearly loves a fact, so here are five of them:

1. No bottom three Premier League club has ever stayed up when sacking a manager after March 3.

Benitez will have to do something no Premier League manager has ever done by keeping the Magpies in the top flight over the next ten games. There have been 11 previous managers appointed to clubs in the bottom three after March 3, but none of those have been able to avoid relegation.

2. Rafa Benitez has the seventh-highest win percentage of all Premier League managers to have overseen 50 or more games.

Benitez appears to be a huge managerial capture for Newcastle and that is proven by his all-time Premier League win percentage of 56%. That figure is the seventh-highest of all top flight managers to have been in charge of at least 50 matches. If he can keep that win record intact, Newcastle will win be on track to win five of their last ten games and would surely be safe.

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3. Benitez’s teams have averaged 1.57 goals-per-game over the course of his managerial career.

One of Newcastle’s major problems this season has been the inability to score goals as they have only averaged one goal-per-game in the Premier League – only Aston Villa have a worse record. Benitez tends to see his side score closer to two goals per match than one, and will hope to instantly increase the Magpies’ goal output.

4. Teams managed by Benitez concede less than a goal per game, on average.

As well as addressing Newcastle’s offensive issues, Benitez will need to shore up a defence that has conceded 53 goals in 28 league games this term – an average of 1.89 per game. The Spanish manager is renowned for making his teams tough to beat and that is proven by the fact that his sides concede an average of 0.91 goals-per-game.

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5. Rafa Benitez has not lost his first league game in charge in any of his last six jobs.

Benitez has a very tricky first game in charge to prepare for as Newcastle travel to Leicester on Monday night. The Foxes are top of the league and are on course for a historic title win. However, Magpies fans should take confidence into that trip based on Benitez’s record with his last six clubs. The Spaniard has not lost his first league game in charge since 2000 and has only conceded one goal in his last six opening matches as a manager. Three of his last four jobs have seen his opening league game end 0-0 – a result Newcastle fans would probably accept ahead of Monday’s trip.

Will Rafa Benitez keep Newcastle in the Premier League? 

Stats: Where has it gone wrong for Eden Hazard this season?

Eden Hazard won PFA Player of the Year for his performances in Chelsea’s title winning 2014/15 campaign, but this season he has looked a shadow of his former-self, so where has it gone wrong for the winger? Lewis Addley explores…

Chelsea’s fall from grace has been well documented throughout this season with fans and pundits alike trying to work out what has happened to the current Premier League champions.

The Blues haven’t struck fear into their opponents heading into games but things have improved at Stamford Bridge since the appointment of interim-manager Guus Hiddink back in December.

One player who has clearly struggled to find his form this season is Eden Hazard. Chelsea’s No. 10 has failed to reach his high standards, and even though his confidence is coming back, he is still a long way from the player who dazzled throughout last season.

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So let’s have a look at statistics from the key areas of Hazard’s game and see how they compare to those from last season.

 Eden Hazard Goals Assists Successful

Take-ons

Successful

Passes

Key

Passes

Shot

Accuracy

Total

Shots

Chances

Created

15/16 0 3 65 962 53 39% 26 56
14/15 14 9 180 1908 90 59% 78 99

Table: Eden Hazard’s key statistics from the 2014/15 Premier League season, compared to this term (statistics provided by Squawka).

Immediately we can see that Hazard has under-performed in every offensive statistic shown in the table above. Staggeringly, he is yet to find the back of the net in the Premier League in the current campaign, despite notching 14 last year.

He recorded nine assists last season, which isn’t a huge number, but he still has three-times less that amount in the current campaign.

The Belgian star’s game is built upon taking on his opponents and creating chances, whether that be from earning free-kicks or advancing at opposition defenders in menacing runs. This season we can see that he has been far more unsuccessful when taking on opponents, with his successful take-on percentage dropping from 64% to 60%.

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The 25-year-old playmaker has recorded less than half the amount of completed passes and almost half the amount of key passes too, meaning his influence on proceedings is notably less.

It is however, his shooting which arguably provides the most worrying statistic for Chelsea fans, as Hazard has had just 26 shots in his 26 appearances, compared to his 78 in 38 games from last season. His shot accuracy is just 39% compared to his 59% in the league in 14/15.

As a winger who is expected to produce the extraordinary, Hazard has only created 56 chances for his teammates whereas he provided them with 99 last season.

While we aren’t suggesting Hazard is individually the one to blame for Chelsea’s demise this term, his reduced input as one of the standout names in their squad has arguably played a huge part in why they are not looking anywhere near as dangerous in the final third of the pitch this season – the statistics speak for themselves.

Can Eden Hazard rediscover his form next season? Will he even be a Chelsea player in the 16/17 campaign?

Stats: Is Harry Kane on track to beat last season’s Premier League goal haul?

Today we explore if Harry Kane is on track to top his Premier League goal tally of 21 from the 2014/15 season in the final nine games of the current campaign… 

Tottenham Hotspur are chasing their first domestic league title since the 1960/61 season. They are currently in second place, five points behind leaders Leicester City. To stand the best chance of winning the title, they will need their key players on form for the remaining nine games of the season.

And one man who will need to carry his side through the final stages is Harry Kane. The English forward has played a pivotal role in a vast amount of games again this season, including his stunning strike in the 2-2 draw with Arsenal last weekend – but is he going to better last season’s tally of 21 Premier League goals in the remaining fixtures?

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Below are his standout offensive statistics from the current Premier League season, compared to his figures from 2014/15 campaign.

 Harry Kane Apps Goals Shot Acc Strike Rate Shots Per Game Minutes Per Goal Mins Played
2015/16 29 17 63% 0.58 4 150 2561
2014/15 34 21 58% 0.61 3.3 123 2582

Table: Harry Kane’s attacking statistics over the last two Premier League seasons (statistics provided by Squawka).

As we can see Kane netted 21 goals in 34 appearances last season, compared to his total of 17 in 29 so far in 2015/16. He has improved his shot accuracy by five percent but his strike rate has marginally dropped.

Kane is averaging four shots per game, which is an increase of 0.7 from the 14/15 campaign but his minutes-per-goal ratio has increased by 27 minutes over the past year, meaning goals are coming less frequently for the 22-year-old Spurs star.

He has played almost the same number of minutes (2561) in his 29 appearances this season compared to 34 appearances (2582) from the 14/15 campaign and will continue to be relied upon through the final stages of the campaign.

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With those statistics in mind, Kane would fail to reach a higher amount of goals by the time he reaches 34 games. He will hypothetically only find the net three times in his next five appearances, based on his current goal output figures.

But it must be noted that, providing Kane stays injury-free until the end of the season, he has nine games left in the Premier League. If he features in all nine – which is more than likely – he will have made four more appearances than in the 14/15 season and would have played in every Premier League game this term.

With the remaining nine outings offering 810 minutes at the very least, Kane’s output of 150 minutes-per-goal would see him find the net at least five more times.

So with that in mind, Kane’s overall tally this season should approach the 22 goal mark, going one better than he manager last year.

Can Harry Kane fire Tottenham to the Premier League title? Will he beat his tally of 21 Premier League goals from last season?

MLS Opening Weekend: 30 interesting stats from Sunday’s ten games

The opening weekend of the 2016 Major League Soccer season is upon us, so here is a look at a few stats to be aware of ahead of what should be an excellent evening of MLS action.

Sunday 6th March

New York Red Bulls vs Toronto FC – (18:30 GMT)

  • New York Red Bulls are unbeaten against Toronto FC in their last eight home matches against the Canadian side.
  • Including the playoffs, New York Red Bulls have won 11 of their last 12 at Red Bull Arena.
  • On the other hand, Toronto FC haven’t won on the road in MLS since 4th July, a total of nine away fixtures.

For more information read our New York Red Bulls vs Toronto FC Match Preview.

New York Red Bulls vs. DC United

Orlando City vs Real Salt Lake – (19:00 GMT)

  • Orlando City finished the 2015 MLS Season on a six-game unbeaten streak, with four wins and two draws.
  • Real Salt Lake finished the 2015 MLS season on a three-game losing streak, managing just one goal in the process.
  • However, Real Salt Lake are unbeaten in six consecutive MLS opening games, with five wins and one draw.

For more information read our Orlando City vs Real Salt Lake Match Preview.

Chicago Fire vs New York City FC – (19:00 GMT) – Live on Sky Sports 1

  • Chicago Fire lost seven of their last eight matches in the 2015 season, winning the other.
  • New York City FC won only once in their last eight away games of last season, losing six of them.
  • Chicago haven’t won on the opening day for the last six seasons, as they’be endured four losses and two draws.

For more information read our Chicago Fire vs New York City FC Match Preview.

FC Dallas vs Philadelphia Union – (20:00 GMT)

  • Philadelphia have never beaten FC Dallas in Major League Soccer.
  • FC Dallas have won four season openers in MLS in a row.
  • FC Dallas won the most matches at home in MLS last season, with a total of 13 out of 17.

For more information read our FC Dallas vs Philadelphia Union Match Preview.

Photo: Denise McCooey

Photo: Denise McCooey

Houston Dynamo vs New England Revolution – (20:00 GMT)

  • Houston Dynamo have lost to the New England Revolution on three consecutive occasions – run that started in April 2014.
  • Houston Dynamo have lost just once in their last ten home matches in MLS, with seven wins and two draws.
  • New England Revolution conceded 35 times on the road last season – their worst away defensive record since 1998.

For more information read our Houston Dynamo vs New England Revolution Match Preview.

San Jose Earthquakes vs Colorado Rapids – (20:00 GMT)

  • San Jose Earthquakes are unbeaten in 12 consecutive matches against the Colorado Rapids, winning six and drawing six.
  • San Jose haven’t conceded at home against the Colorado Rapids since May 2013.
  • Colorado Rapids have lost four of their last five away matches in MLS, winning the other.

For more information read our San Jose Earthquakes vs Colorado Rapids Match Preview.

Portland Timbers vs Columbus Crew – (21:30 GMT) – Live on Sky Sports 1

  • Including the MLS Cup Final last year, Portland Timbers are unbeaten in their last three matches against Columbus Crew.
  • Including the postseason, Portland Timbers are unbeaten in their last nine consecutive MLS matches, winning six and drawing three.
  • Columbus Crew won five of their last six 2015 MLS regular season games.

For more information read our Portland Timbers vs Columbus Crew Match Preview.

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Vancouver Whitecaps vs Montreal Impact – (22:30 GMT)

  • Vancouver had the joint best defence in Major League Soccer in 2015, conceding only 36 goals.
  • Montreal Impact won their final two matches away from home in the regular season last term but lost nine of the 15 previous road trips.
  • Octavio Rivero was the Whitecaps’ leading goalscorer with ten last season. He is only the fourth player in Whitecaps history to reach double-digits in a single season.

For more information read our Vancouver Whitecaps vs Montreal Impact Match Preview.

Monday 7th March (UK Time)

Seattle Sounders vs Sporting Kansas City – (00:00 GMT)

  • Seattle Sounders haven’t won against Sporting Kansas City in their last three attempts, drawing twice and losing once.
  • At home, Sounders are undefeated in all four MLS matches against Sporting Kansas City, winning twice and drawing twice.
  • Seattle are unbeaten in their last seven MLS outings. They’ve won six of those seven, drawing the other.

For more information read our Seattle Sounders vs Sporting Kansas City Match Preview.

Seattle Sounders vs FC Dallas Fans

LA Galaxy vs DC United – (03:00 GMT)

  • DC have only won once in their last eleven matches against LA Galaxy, drawing five and losing the other five.
  • LA are unbeaten in their last eight home matches against DC United, recording four wins and four draws.
  • DC United only managed to score nine away goals in the regular season in 2015 – a league low for the season.

For more information read our LA Galaxy vs DC United Match Preview.

What are you most looking forward to on the opening day of the 2016 MLS season?

STATS: Will Brad Davis be a success at Sporting Kansas City?

When the Houston Dynamo announced they had agreed to trade Brad Davis to Sporting Kansas City last week in return for two draft picks, it’s safe to say that plenty of eyebrows were raised.

Davis has spent the last ten seasons with the Dynamo, becoming the club’s all-time leader in games, starts and assists, so his departure will certainly leave a void.

He will undoubtedly strengthen Sporting Kansas City’s squad, even at the age of 34, and will hope to put his previous clashes with the SKC fanbase behind him as he prepares for his 14th consecutive campaign in the league.

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Getting the Sporting KC fans to sing his name will be one of Davis’ first challenges and he will only be able to do that with positive performances on the field.

The 17-time capped USMNT midfielder has registered 122 assists in MLS over the past 13 years – the third-highest total by any player in league history – and is now just 14 behind Landon Donovan’s all-time mark of 136.

He registered ten assists over the course of a mixed 2015 campaign with Houston, making double figures for the seventh time in ten years, and proved he still has a lot to offer in MLS.

Table: Brad Davis' MLS Regular Season statistics with the Houston Dynamo over the past five years (via MLSSoccer.com)

Table: Brad Davis’ MLS Regular Season statistics with the Houston Dynamo over the past five years (via MLSSoccer.com)

As the table above shows, Davis has been a consistently good performer over the past five years. He has scored four goals in four of his last five campaigns and has averaged more than 45 shots per season.

His position has changed over the past couple of years as his legs have lost a yard or two of pace, with Owen Coyle deploying him in an attacking midfield role instead of in his traditional spot out wide, but his production hasn’t dipped.

It will be intriguing to see how Peter Vermes uses him in Kansas City. Davis is unlikely to slot back into a winger role for 25+ games, while slotting in behind Dom Dwyer is also unlikely given Benny Feilhaber’s dominant 2015 campaign in that position.

Table: Benny Feilhaber and Brad Davis' 2015 MLS Regular Season Stats compared. (Stats via WhoScored.com)

Table: Benny Feilhaber and Brad Davis’ 2015 MLS Regular Season Stats compared. (Stats via WhoScored.com)

As a result of Feilhaber’s fine performances last term, Davis may face a battle to cement a regular starting place in Vermes’ side.

There is a chance that Davis will become a prestigious option off the bench for SKC, with his versatility in the final third a major plus for the 2013 MLS Cup winners, but it is difficult to envisage him being given anywhere near the amount of minutes he has received at Houston over the past decade.

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Regardless of how much of a chance he is given, Davis will strengthen SKC’s roster for the 2016 campaign and he brings wealths of MLS experience with him.

But being able to measure his success will depend on the number of starts he is given. Getting a first MLS Cup Playoff appearance for three years is something Davis will expect to get with a Sporting side that has made the postseason for five straight seasons, while a third ever MLS Cup title for Davis is definitely not out of reach.

Do you think Brad Davis will be a success with Sporting Kansas City? 

STATS: Analysing the decline of Wayne Rooney

Wayne Rooney is a man under the spotlight. The Manchester United captain’s performances so far this season have been below his high standards and pressure is mounting on the attacker.

Some have blamed Louis Van Gaal’s philosophies, others claim he is tired, but one thing for sure is that Rooney is not the threat he should be, nor the one Manchester United need him to be.

At 30, few are expecting him to provide the energy he did five years ago. But they are expecting him to provide the spark this United team has lacked at times this season.

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The all-time leading England goalscorer has netted just two Premier League goals in 12 appearances this term. He has made double figures for league goals in each of his 11 seasons at Old Trafford so far but looks unlikely to do that by May.

He is no longer the lead striker, despite starting the season in his traditional position. Summer signings Memphis Depay and Anthony Martial have been brought in to give the United side some pace but Rooney is failing to create chances, let alone score them.

Table: Wayne Rooney's key Premier League statistics over the past five seasons for Manchester United (via WhoScored)

Table: Wayne Rooney’s key Premier League statistics over the past five seasons for Manchester United (via WhoScored)

The table above shows just how bad a campaign the United skipper is having. He has yet to register an assist in the Premier League this year and has registered fewer shots per game than in any of the previous four seasons.

His attacking output in general is nowhere near as effective as it needs to be. His position on the field will not change the fact that he needs to carry the Red Devils’ attack, especially with youngsters such as Jesse Lingard, Martial and Depay looking to him for inspiration.

Graph: Wayne Rooney's attacking output has dropped considerably over the past five seasons.

Graph: Wayne Rooney’s attacking output has dropped considerably over the past five seasons.

The graph above shows how bad the drop in form has been for Rooney in recent years. He has registered half the number of shots per game this term compared to four years ago and has seen his goal output drop by nearly 80% over the same period.

Calls are being made for Rooney to be dropped by Van Gaal. The Dutch manager substituted his captain after the hour mark in Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Leicester and it will be interesting to see how much trust is now going to be placed in the 30-year-old England star.

Manchester United’s title hopes are very much alive. If Rooney can pick back up, those hopes could turn into reality next May.

Why do you think Wayne Rooney is struggling to perform to the levels expected of him this season?

STATS: Is Memphis Depay offering enough to Manchester United?

When Manchester United splashed £25 million on Memphis Depay early in the summer, a sense of genuine excitement filled the air around Old Trafford. The Dutch winger was expected to bring an exciting array of attacking talents to the club but has he offered enough so far? Lewis Addley explores…

Memphis Depay’s incredible form with PSV Eindhoven last season left no real questions as to why Louis Van Gaal wanted to bring his compatriot to Manchester.

The Dutchman netted an impressive 22 domestic goals in 30 appearances in the 2014-15 Eredivisie campaign, but has only shown in glimpses the talent he possesses since his arrival at United.

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Depay has been a relatively quiet member of the United attack so far this season, so let’s have a look at his performances in numbers.

Depay Stats

Depay’s Premier League stats for the 2015/16 season (via Squawka)

The winger has scored just the one goal, has no assists and has created only four chances for his teammates so far this season in the Premier League.

If he was to continue at this current rate he would end the domestic campaign on five goals, without any assists and with just 19 chances created for teammates.

Now, obviously we aren’t suggesting he won’t register an assist over the whole campaign, as this is only based on his performance levels so far. But the statistics would suggest he will endure a difficult first Premier League season nonetheless.

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His shot accuracy of 44% doesn’t differ much from last season’s 47%, where his output was far greater, so no alarm bells are ringing in that department.

He created 60 chances for teammates last season, so has a lot of work to do to close the gap on that number, but it is early doors for Depay and he is playing in a more competitive side in terms of squad selection and arguably against far tougher defences in England.

A quiet first season in the Premier League for a new signing is not uncommon, but given Depay’s ability, more is to be expected from him. If he can produce the same levels as last season he could play a pivotal role in United’s chances of winning the league title this season.

STATS: Is Chris Smalling the best centre-back in England?

Former Manchester United defender Gary Pallister has labelled Chris Smalling as the best centre-back in the Premier League after a fine start to the season, helping United to boast the best defensive record in the top flight after 12 games.

Smalling was regularly criticised following his move to Old Trafford from Fulham in 2010 as he struggled to impress in the few starts he was given.

But under Louis Van Gaal’s guidance, the 25-year-old has become one of the most solid defenders in English football and many feel that there is no one better in his position right now. But what do the stats say?

Table: Chris Smalling's 2015/16 statistics compared to some of the best centre-backs in England.

Table: Chris Smalling’s 2015/16 statistics compared to some of the best centre-backs in England.

When comparing Smalling’s statistics to some of the most highly rated defenders in the Premier League, it’s clear he is not the best on English shores.

Vincent Kompany and Laurent Koscielny are viewed by many as two of the finest defenders in Europe, let alone the Premier League and Koscielny, in particular, outshines Smalling in terms of aerial dominance as well as interceptions and blocks.

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John Stones is also held in high esteem by English football fans across the country. He has made more tackles and blocks per game than Smalling so far but is outperformed by his England partner aerially with the United man also making more interceptions and clearances per game.

Then we come to Chancel Mbemba, who is the surprise addition in the comparison above. The Newcastle man doesn’t spring to mind when thinking of the best centre-back in the Premier League but maybe he should be further forward in the thinking process, especially if looking at his statistical performances.

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He outshines Kompany, Stones, Koscielny and Smalling in terms of tackles won per game and has also made more blocks and clearances than any of the other four. In fact, Mbemba has won more tackles in the Premier League than any other central defender after 12 games.

It’s worth noting Mbemba has more defensive work to do than someone like Smalling but perhaps claims that the Manchester United man is the best in his position need to be reconsidered, at least for now.

Do you think Chris Smalling is the best centre-back in the Premier League? Who is better?