How Steven Caulker compares to Arsenal duo Mertesacker and Koscielny

Arsenal have been linked with Cardiff City's Steven Caulker, but how does the former Tottenham man compare with the Gunners' current defensive duo?

A report in Monday's Daily Mail linked Cardiff City defender Steven Caulker with a potential move to Arsenal.

The 22-year-old was recently relegated with the Bluebirds and there have been suggestions he will soon return to the top flight, with a number of clubs including his former side Tottenham Hotspur tipped to sign the England international.

Arsenal are likely to sign a number of players this summer, and with Thomas Vermaelen linked with the exit, central defence is one area Arsene Wenger will surely look to strengthen, despite the outstanding recent form of Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny.

If the current Arsenal club captain does leave, an injury to either of Wenger's current first -choice defenders would leave the North London side high-and-dry, especially because Bacary Sagna (the fourth-choice option at centre-back) is also on his way.

So how does Caulker fare in comparison with Arsenal's defensive duo?  Not too bad actually, as you can see below.

The Opta stats here only take into account Premier League matches, but you can see Caulker made more effective clearances and more effective headed clearances on average per game than either Mertesacker or Koscielny.

He also won more duels and more aerial battles.  In fact in only one of five key areas - interceptions won - did he fall below Arsenal's first-choice pair.

  Effective Clearance / appsEffective Head Clearance / appsInterception Won / appsDuel Won / appsAerial Won / appsAppsMins
Steven Caulker 8.58 4.97 1.24 5.16 3.79 38 3,420
Laurent Koscielny 7.31 3.78 2.78 3.91 1.66 32 2,741
Per Mertesacker 7.06 4.86 1.69 4.46 2.77 35 3,150

Further up the field Caulker also scored more goals on average than either defensive rival, and also played more key passes.  

That the Gunners duo made more passes (and more accurate ones) than Caulker is no surprise given Arsenal's style of play and time on the ball compared with Cardiff in the midst of a relegation battle.  But should he make the move there is no reason he could not equal or better those figures.

  Goals / appsKey Pass / appsTotal Pass / appsAccurate Pass / appsAppsMins
Steven Caulker 0.13 0.24 34.89 25.97 38 3,420
Laurent Koscielny 0.06 0.09 39.66 37.06 32 2,741
Per Mertesacker 0.06 0.06 48.77 45.34 35 3,150

Stats can tell you whatever you want them to.  But in this case it is clear Caulker shone last season despite the struggles of his team.  

And a player former Spurs boss Tim Sherwood wished had never left White Hart Lane would be a canny signing for Arsenal, provided he would be open to such a move given his previous allegiance.

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