This weekend’s most interesting Premier League game sees Liverpool take on Tottenham Hotspur. Liverpool will be looking to emerge victorious to keep up their push for a Champions League place, whilst Tottenham will battle for the points to distance themselves from Chelsea in 4th.
Whilst both of these teams have very distinctive styles in terms of the football they play, one similarity comes in the form of their right backs in Kyle Walker and Glen Johnson. Both capped by England and both with a tendency to bomb forward and cause problems to their opponents with their pace and direct running.
There has been much discussion over the last 18 months or so and the question usually asked is who out of the two should be picked by Roy Hodgson as England’s first choice right back. This article looks to use statistics to assess what team has the better English right back, and who deserves a starting berth in Roy Hodgson’s England XI.
Johnson Vs Walker: Defensive ability
Editors Note: First thing to note is that both players have almost played exactly the same time in the league this season and therefore a comparison of numbers is justifiable without resorting to mins per or percentages – which are still used but for this comparison the hard numbers can also be used.
Glen Johnson narrowly wins on the defensive statistics front. When Glen Johnson has been in the Liverpool team they have kept 11 clean sheets, which is impressive considering the uncertainty over Pepe Reina. Despite only keeping 5 clean sheets whilst representing Tottenham, Kyle Walker gains a point based on goals conceded per game. However this is very slight as it only represents a 0.04 difference which may not be significant.
Walker does win 5% more of his ground 50/50 duels compared to Johnson, although he has a 9% deficit to Johnson when competing for 50/50′s in the air. Johnson is also clearly ahead based on his tackle success registering an impressive 84.38%, 5.95% higher than Walker. Furthermore, Walker seems to have better anticipation with 22 more interceptions than Johnson. Walker is also harder to beat one-on-one with Johnson being beaten 18 times to Walker’s 11 but Glen seems to win possession a lot more (31 times more) than Kyle. Finally, Walker has made 4 defensive errors this season which is poor, compared to Johnson making 1 error. The statistics displayed give Glen Johnson the edge here, which you wouldn’t expect, but it’s pretty close.
Johnson Vs Walker: Passing / Attacking Comparison
Glen Johnson 6-2 Kyle Walker
Glen Johnson dominates based on attacking play. The first four statistics are inseparable. Johnson has a marginal win based on open play passing success, but the two cannot be separated based on pass success in the attacking zone, final 3rd and dribbling success. Both scored an impressive 50% for dribbling success, a stat a winger would be pleased with. Walker has double the crossing success of Johnson which is very encouraging.
However, Glen Johnson is frequently used by Liverpool at left back where he will cross on his weaker foot more often, perhaps giving reason for a poor 12% cross completion. Neither teams have tall strikers which may negate both player’s percentages. Despite having half the cross success, Johnson has 4 times the assists of Walker. Whilst Kyle Walker creates more chances it seems Glen creates more clear-cut goal opportunities also note that Glen Johnson is a much more dangerous prospect as he shoots more than Walker and is more accurate (although both accuracies are poor!). Finally, Johnson wins on the goal front with a solitary goal.
Conclusion: Glen Johnson 11-6 Kyle Walker
Whilst the point per stat system may have some slight flaws, Glen Johnson wins hands down. The Liverpool fullback has proved over the years that he does have the maturity to match his clear ability that has been apparent throughout his career. Kyle Walker is an extremely talented footballer, and no doubt he will go on to cement an England starting place later in his career.
Each have characteristics independent of statistics that will appeal to a manager. Johnson has shown he is equally adaptable at left back over the past 2 years, whilst Walker has shown devastating set piece delivery from corners and free kicks from distance. The debate will no doubt continue, but while the statistics don’t lie, Glen Johnson remains the Right Full Back.
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