Since news broke last night that Newcastle United had met the release clause of Championship rivals Aston Villa’s Ciaran Clark, many fans have commented that the player appears to be universally dismissed as a liability by his current employers supporters. Understandably this raises concerns about his ability to add genuine depth of quality to the back line of NUFC. As a result I have set out to compare his stats with those of severl other players in order to establish if the words of many Villa fans rings true, or if he will actually be a shrewd signing.
So how it will work is simple. Ciaran Clark will be directly compared against Jamaal Lascelles, Chancel Mbemba and Fabricio Coloccini based on their average stats per 90 minutes completed in the Premier League last season. John Stones will be added into the mix just to give us an idea of where our defenders are compared to a mid table Premier League defender currently being touted for a move to Manchester City somewhere in the region of 40 to 50 million pounds. For every field, 10 points goes to the winner, 7 for second, 5 for 3rd, 3 points for 4th and zero for last place. Lets get started then.
Goals scored: Both Mbemba and Stones failed to score last season, meaning they share 4th place with 3 points each. In third is Coloccini with 0.04 per 90. 2nd place goes to Clark with 0.06 per 90 and winner by some margin is Lascelles with 0.15.
Chances created: Coloccini and Mbemba tie for 4th on 0.12. Winner is Clark on 0.25. Second is Stones on 0.19 and 3rd falls with Lascelles on 0.15.
Pass Completion: An important field here, mastered by John Stones with 89%. As you might expect Fabricio Coloccini performs well on 83%. Jamaal Lascelles shows he is neat and tidy with 80%. whilst there is not lot to separate Mbemba and Clark with 77 and 76% respectively.
Aerial Duels: There is huge contrast in this one, with a whopping 29.3% separating first and last place. Lascelles is crowned victor here with 76.36%. Bringing up the rear is Mbemba with… have you worked it out yet?! A shocking 47.06% for a CB. In 4th is Coloccini with a marginally better 49.23%. 2nd for Stones on 63.75 and third place earnt by Clark with 61.54%.
Take-on totals: 10 points for Stones with 74.19%. 7 points for Clark on 29.23%. 5 points for both Mbemba and Coloccini winning 66.67%, leaving poor Lascelles pointless on a measly 60%.
Total Duels won: This is another area where you want your CB to dominate. Everton’s Stones does just that with 63.26%. Showing how not to win a battle is Coloccini with a very poor 46.67% of battles won. Lascelles is no pushover, winning 59.34%. Clark is next up with 55.13% and Mbemba is fairly weak again with 51.82%.
Tackles won/lost, average per 90: Congolese Mbemba finally shows us what he bring to the table, with an average of +0.46. Coloccini performed poorly with -0.47. Stones did well on +0.17. Clark managed -0.25 and Lascelles was not great with -0.39.
Fouls committed vs Free kicks earnt, averages: So does the player draw more fouls than he gives away? Stones does, with +0.48 per 90. Coloccini balanced out on zero, which is not a bad thing. Clark averaged -0.19 for 3rd place. Next up is Mbemba with -0.28 and in last place is Lascelles with -0.62 falling far behind his rivals.
Defensive errors: Very few made by Coloccini, with 0.04 per 90. Clark again performs well with 0.06, Mbemba manages 0.09, Stones 0.13 and Lascelles 0.15.
Defensive errors leading to goals per 90: Both Coloccini and Clark made no fatal errors last term, earning them 10 points each. Joint third is Lascelles and Mbemba with 0.06 whilst Stones proves to be most error prone with 0.1.
Yellow cards: Who is most likely to be banned due to cumulative cards? I have not included red cards because they were very rare (only 2 all season between all 5 players). Clark likes a card with 0.37 per 90. Mbemba managed 0.15. Stones had 0.1 whilst both Lascelles and Coloccini kept their noses clean with 0.08.
Blocks: Coloccini managed 1.14 per 90. Stones performed well with 1.13. Lascelles did 1.01, Clark had 0.81 and Mbemba 0.77.
Clearances: Ciaran Clark is a monster here with 8.27. Coloccini managed only 4.28. Stones had 4.47. Lascelles did OK with 6.04 and Mbemba scored high with 7.27.
Interceptions: This is the last category. Mbemba was the the best reader of the game here with 2.96 per 90. Clark was a close 2nd with 2.92. Coloccini averaged 2.4, Lasclees 2.17 and Stones only 1.81.
Total Points: As you might imagine, John Stones is in demand for a reason and he tops the billing here with a mighty 87 points. Jamaal Lascelles came in at 4th place with 68 points. Despite Coloccini’s decline, he still managed 75 points. Now prepare to be shocked. Many said Chancel Mbemba was one of our better players last season. Well the stats say otherwise. He was by far the weakest of the above 5 defenders, managing only 60 points overall. Now Villa fans think they are flogging Newcastle a ‘duffer in Ciaran Clark’ and claim they are committing daylight robbery by taking 5 million pounds from the Magpies. The stats say othrwise though. He came in with a very strong performance, netting 81 points and earning 2nd place – well above the existing Newcastle defenders.
It is clear that the Irishman is partial to a yellow card, but he is a strong overall defender that will enhance Newcastle’s back line and add real competition and strength in depth for the first time in an absolute age. Villa fans should be crying into their cornflakes at the thought of losing this player and giving him a barrage of abuse all over social media should hopefully only push him further out the door and into the warm Geordie embrace.