Stats: Should sides be targeting Jon Flanagan?

It seems like he gets through a lot of work for Liverpool in defence, are opposing sides wise to target the 21-year-old?

It seems strange watching opposition sides at the moment against Liverpool at the moment. You can imagine that they think they have a chance if they score the first goal, you would think they know they can score given that Liverpool have conceded 35 goals in the league this season, and conceded in 20 of their 29 games.

But what has seemed all the more strange of late is targeting Jon Flanagan. The 21-year-old made his first appearance of the season when Glen Johnson was struck down by illness ahead of Liverpool’s 2-0 defeat to Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium, and ever since his appearance in the Merseyside derby in November, his progress has been remarkable.

Manchester United certainly seemed to targeting him on Sunday as both Juan Mata and Adnan Januzaj occupied the right flank at Old Trafford at different times and a lot of their play came that way. Southampton played a lot down their left flank against Flanagan, though it might have been to use the threat of Luke Shaw.

Teams do seem to fancy their chances against the youngster who has established himself as an integral part of the Liverpool team this season from the winter months onwards. But here is a look at some key statistics:

NameTeamPosDuel Won / appsAppsMins
Glen Johnson Liverpool DF 7.15 20 1,711
Jon Flanagan Liverpool DF 6.43 14 1,159
Aly Cissokho Liverpool DF 5.92 13 1,027
NameTeamPosWon Tackle / appsAppsMins
Jon Flanagan Liverpool DF 2.79 14 1,159
Glen Johnson Liverpool DF 2.15 20 1,711
Mamadou Sakho Liverpool DF 1.67 12 1,029

The statistics above demonstrate he is amongst the strongest defenders in the squad and a good reader of the game. It also demonstrates that sides fancy their chances in trying to take Liverpool on in wide positions. He's second in the average duels won per game, and highest in the amount of tackles won per game, on average.

NameTeamPosInterception Won / appsAppsMins
Mamadou Sakho Liverpool DF 2.08 12 1,029
Martin Skrtel Liverpool DF 1.70 27 2,412
Jon Flanagan Liverpool DF 1.64 14 1,159

Again, he's amongst the best performing Liverpool defenders this season, but this time in terms of his anticipation and his ability to stop the opposition in their tracks with their build-up play - which has been a big part of his good defensive work as he has progressed this season. 

It is hard to see why opponents would want to target Flanagan. If they continue to target him, they may have to hope for him to have an off day - and at the age of 21, he is only going to improve under the coaching of Brendan Rodgers.

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