Cardiff man outshines former teammates on day Spurs could have used him

Cardiff City defender Steven Caulker put in a sterling performance on Saturday, on the same day his former club lost 4-0 to Chelsea.

Earlier this month, Tottenham Hotspur boss Tim Sherwood paid a glowing tribute to former Spurs player Steven Caulker.  

In the build-up to a match between his former club and his current Cardiff City side, his ex-coach said, "Steven is a man. Even when he was a kid, he has always been a man in stature."

He also looked back with apparent sadness at the defender's move from White Hart Lane to Wales.

"He wanted game-time here," Sherwood said.  "And more than the previous manager would guarantee him."

You sense the new boss may just have made those guarantees.  But it is all hypothetical now, with Caulker starring for the Bluebirds on a day when his former side were somewhat humbled by Chelsea.

Caulker played a vital role in a vital win for Cardiff against Fulham, scoring twice in a 3-1 win on a day when the side directly above them - West Bromwich Albion - slipped perilously close to the drop-zone.

But how did Caulker do overall against the Cottagers compared to Spurs's current defenders' showing against Chelsea?

Caulker bagged a brace, while Tottenham's back-line shipped four with no reply against Jose Mourinho's men.  So in terms of attacking contribution, Caulker won hands-down.  But there is more to the story than that.

Steven Caulker 2 90

Caulker played 32 accurate passes on Saturday, a figure bettered by both Kyle Walker (who featured further up the field than usual) and Kyle Naughton. But he outshone both Spurs' centre-backs in that regard. Caulker also won more duels and more aerial battles than any of Sherwood's players in their weekend fixture.

PlayerAccurate PassDuel WonAerial WonInterception WonMins
Steven Caulker 32 8 6 2 90


PlayerEffective ClearanceEffective Head ClearanceMins
Steven Caulker 11 7 90

While his record of 11 effective clearances and seven such headed clearances also put all his former teammates in the shade.

In fact, only in terms of interceptions won did anyone - in this case Michael Dawson - outperform Caulker.

PlayerAccurate PassDuel WonAerial WonInterception WonMins
Kyle Walker 41 4 0 0 90
Kyle Naughton 36 7 1 1 90
Jan Vertonghen 24 6 1 0 90
Michael Dawson 23 2 0 4 72
Younes Kaboul 10 4 4 0 59
Ezekiel Fryers 7 0 0 0 18


PlayerEffective ClearanceEffective Head ClearanceMins
Michael Dawson 7 5 72
Younes Kaboul 4 3 59
Kyle Naughton 3 3 90
Jan Vertonghen 1 0 90

Of course it has to be noted that Spurs were playing Chelsea away while Cardiff were playing Fulham at home.  That is not a fact that should be brushed under the carpet simply to highlight a difference that the facts may determine as expected.

But in its own way, the Bluebirds' battle against Fulham was every bit as tough as Spurs' visit to Stamford Bridge; two sides fighting for their lives at the bottom of the Premier League, knowing that every point, every kick in fact, could prove vital.

And one senses that Caulker - still only 22 - may be one the one that got away in the years to come for Tottenham.




image: © joncandy

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