Welcome back to the best of the Rest XI so far. Yesterday revealed that French Leicester City defender Wesley Fofana was the first CB in our team and today we reveal his partner in the strongly contested Centre Half position.
As mentioned yesterday, the centre back position was very hotly contested, but in truth it was only the second spot that was hard to pick, the first spot was pretty easy choose. Not only has he been one of the best CB’s in the other 14 teams this season, but he has also been one of if not this best CB in the whole league this year! We are obviously talking about Southampton’s Jannik Vestergaard.
Everyone knows how good the scouting system at Southampton is, the vivid in-depth analysis of overseas players to whittle out the best for their team whilst on a budget is second to none! So, when he was signed for Southampton from Gladbach back in 2018- there was never any doubt he would be up to the challenge. The man-monolith is a truly brilliant player, when he is on the field the Dane who stands at 6’6 is completely commanding and when he comes up for a set piece you know you are in trouble.
Recently Vestergaard has been out through injury, like most defenders in the league this year, but his performances before getting injured were second to none and at one point even helped Southampton to the very top of the table. Now in 7th Southampton are still putting themselves forward as serious European contenders and when Vestergaard returns, their chances will only go up!
Vestergaard has scored three goals this season and has helped Southampton keep 5 clean sheets in the 13 games he has played. Today we put him up against a defender who has really improved this season and has started to finally look like the player we all expected when he made a move to Man City. That player is obviously John Stones.
Man City have been looking for defender for some time with Vestergaard’s name having appeared in some rumours especially this season, so let’s see how he stacks up against a potential rival:
The stats show that the two are extremely close in most areas, Man City’s superior passing shines through, but other than that what we can see is something genuinely quite interesting. Yesterday we compared 20-year-old Wesley Fofana to 34-year-old veteran Thiago Silva, in that we showed how Wesley was already beating Silva in some but in others we chalked it down to age and experience. But in a quite shocking realisation this chart is identical to yesterdays! In every area, other than clearances, which Fofana beat Silva, Vestergaard beat Stones and in every area which Silva beat Fofana, Stones beat Vestergaard! But we can’t put today’s results down to age and experience because Vestergaard is two years older than Stones. So, what could this mean?
All stats are completely individual, and we could have picked a multitude of players to face off against each other, in many different combinations and in the last two days all four players have come from four different clubs so for the ‘Big 6’ players and the other 14 players to match almost identically is incredible, especially in a season where results have been so unpredictable.
I do have a theory; I believe that what we are seeing is outcome of an almost predetermined style of play which separates the ‘big 6’ from the other 14. The possession based and more thorough style of play which Man City, Chelsea, Liverpool ect all try to play, means that their players styles all mould to suit a certain blend meanwhile the other 14 play a freer flowing counter attacking style which allows players, especially in defence to express themselves more often, this would explain why Vestergaard and Fofana both dribbles more often and get more interceptions for example.
But unlike Fofana, what we can see from Vestergaard here is that when he wins in a category, he dominates in it, and when he loses, he is not far behind. In an average game Vestergaard will win double the number of headers than Stones, double his tackles and double his interceptions. What we can see if anything is that Vestergaard is a machine. He commits less than 1 foul and turns the ball over less than once per 90 whilst always contributing to Southampton’s defensive effort, which the same can’t be said for Stones who averages less than a tackle per game.
Despite any creepy patterns, Vestergaard is an obvious choice for this team and would be an obvious choice for any team, he is a centre half who would start in any team within the Prem, big 6 or not. A truly fantastic player who I wait eagerly for the return of.
Tomorrow we reveal the final edition to our back line with the Left Back position!