We take a closer look at the Aston Villa midfielder's performances this season.
Following Aston Villa's 2-2 draw with Liverpool at the weekend, I wrote an article praising Ron Vlaar. The Dutch centre-back put in another stellar performance at Anfield and was my pick for man-of-the-match.
However, giving him a run for his money was Fabian Delph - a player once tipped as the next big thing but someone who took longer than imagined to fulfill that much-talked-about potential.
So as much as I felt Vlaar deserved an article, I could not ignore the Villa midfielder and I began to look at his performances this season; not just that match against Liverpool, but every game to date. And what I discovered is that Delph is having something of a blinder.
For this analysis I have included Leandro Bacuna despite the Dutchman playing a number of games as a defender this season.
From the table below you can see that Delph has had 20 scoring attempts and attempted 14 assists, and while he is outshone by some of his teammates in those particular areas, he has made more interceptions, more passes and more accurate passes than any of his midfield colleagues. In short, he is vital to the Villans.
|Player||Total Scoring Attempt||Total Attempted Assist||Interception Won||Total Pass||Accurate Pass||Touches||Mins|
|Karim El Ahmadi||25||14||12||477||393||693||1,393|
Because a midfielder's role is considerable, I also took into account how effective his clearances were, and how often (and where on the pitch) he won back possession, and again the results are telling.
Considering the fact that Bacuna has featured a number of times in the back-line, it is no surprise he has more effective clearances than those who feature more regularly in midfield; however, Delph has won more balls in the defensive-third of the pitch and equals Ashley Westwood for possession won in the middle-third. Delph is also streets ahead when it comes to ball-recovery as a whole.
|Player||Effective Clearance||Possession Won Defensive 3rd||Possession Won Middle 3rd||Possession Won Attacking 3rd||Ball Recovery||Mins|
|Karim El Ahmadi||18||18||40||8||66||1,393|
Delph is having a mightily impressive campaign to date, and he is central to much of what Villa do. Still only 24, it seems he could live up to those early expectations after all.
image: © Ben Sutherland