Statistical Analysis: Is Jan Vertonghen the best defender in the Premier League?

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Jan Vertonghen has been excellent since signing for Spurs in the summer. The versatile Belgian defender has performed brilliantly both at left back and at centre back. With Spurs seemingly slow to sign in the summer some fans feared for their prospects this season, but the club are now sitting in third and Vertonghen has been a key performer in their succesful season so far.

Statistical comparison

Tackle % 50-50 % Aerial % Def Errors Mins per possession won Clearances per game Pass %
Vertonghen 80 65 58 1 14 8.6 86
Vermaelen 83 68 56 6 25 5.2 87
Vidic 67 60 66 0 17 9.5 86
Kompany 81 62 59 0 15 6.9 90

It is worth noting before analyzing these stats that Vertonghen contests more 50-50s than any other player here and contests challenges more frequently. In that context his statistics are even more impressive. What we can see from this is that Vertonghen wins the ball more frequently than any other defender here, as well as making the second most clearances. His 50-50 success and tackle success are also both second to Vermaelen. Vermaelen cannot really be regarded as a top centre-back anymore because of the frequency in which he makes obvious defensive errors, but also as a result of his poor positioning which was clear to see against Spurs last Sunday. Too often Arsenal’s captain is caught out of position and out of line with his fellow defenders.

How good is Vertonghen?

Vertonghen has arguably been the signing of the season having played brilliantly at both left back and centre-back for Spurs. Given the huge injuries they have had this season he has been a willing utility man. Further to this, he has not had a regular partner when at centre-back and has had to shore up a relatively inconsistent Spurs back line, in terms of personnel.

Vertonghen was superb at the heart of the Spurs defence on Sunday against Arsenal. With the high-line deployed by Spurs it is crucial to have defenders who are both good in the air and good on the cover. Not only was Vertonghen incredibly dominant aerially but he was also superb on the cover, making some excellent tackles. He made four interceptions and 8 clearances in that fixture. Further to this, his positioning was, as it has been all season, excellent. Given that this is his first season in the Premier League it is fair to assume that he is only going to get better, especially when he gets a regular partner at centre-back, probably Kaboul, when he is fit again.

Conclusion

Vertonghen has been a brilliant signing for Spurs. Perhaps the signing of the season. His ability to fill in both at left back and centre-back has been crucial and he has provided much needed balance to the Spurs back-line. His statistics demonstrate that he is a strong defender but they do not capture what an excellent reading of the game he has. Whoscored.com have Vertonghen, along with Chico, listed as their best centre-backs for the season so far.

All stats from EPLIndex

4 comments for “Statistical Analysis: Is Jan Vertonghen the best defender in the Premier League?

  1. shannon
    March 8, 2013 at 11:48

    How does Gary Cahill rate? Vertonghen is a very good defender but I have seen mistakes and sometimes he seems to go to sleep, most often when playing left back.

  2. Belgiumwoldchampion
    March 8, 2013 at 11:50

    Fantastic three belgians!

  3. March 8, 2013 at 13:59

    I’m not sure who the signing of the season has been. Verts has been excellent, as have Lloris and Dembele. By the end of the season if he keeps improving Siggy may be a contender for that title too! But then Dempsey might return from injury and score a hatful of crucial goals……….hey it’s simply a great time to be a Tottenham fan!

  4. Ste
    March 8, 2013 at 17:24

    Vermaelen is awful, why is he even on this list?

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