Stats: Ex-Manchester City man wants Clichy starting over Kolarov - is he right?

Ex-Manchester City defender Terry Phelan says Gael Clichy should be the club's starting left-back over Aleksandar Kolarov, but what do the stats tell us?

Former Manchester City defender Terry Phelan is adamant that Gael Clichy should be starting for the club at left-back over Aleksandar Kolarov.

Manager Manuel Pellegrini often rotated between the pair during the 2013-14 title-winning campaign, with Kolarov also featuring in midfield, and duties have again been shared so far this season.

However, Phelan believes it’s the Frenchman who has the edge in the battle for a spot in the lineup, telling the Manchester Evening News: ‘I’ve watched both fullbacks over a number of years now and obviously Clichy when he was at Arsenal, different manager and different philosophy, but I would go for Clichy.

‘Watching Kolarov run back for the goal [in the 1-0 defeat] against Stoke, very suspect. Clichy’s got it for me, he’s just that bit ahead, with his defending plus his attacking.

‘And he’s got the experience as well.’

The stats from the opening three Premier League games this season are too small a sample size to gauge an accurate representation of how the two compare, but last term’s numbers do paint an interesting picture of the respective qualities each brings to the side.

 2013-14 GoalsTotal Scoring AttGoal AssistTotal Att AssistTotal CrossCross AccTotal ContestContest AccAppsMins
Aleksandar Kolarov 1 53 7 34 107 24.30% 38 50.00% 30 1,970
Gaël Clichy 0 1 0 13 38 18.42% 13 78.57% 20 1,660

Attacking-wise, Kolarov clearly has the edge over teammate Clichy, adding much more to the side going forward, although it appears the Serbian international was somewhat more careless when taking on an opposing defender with the ball.

It should also be noted that he started seven Premier League games on the left wing last season, giving him a few more opportunities to pad his attacking stats.

 2013-14 TeamPosTotal TackleTackle AccTotal ClearanceEffective ClearanceInterceptionInterception WonTotal PassPass AccAppsMins
Aleksandar Kolarov Man City DF 51 80.39% 61 61 31 31 1,020 81.18% 30 1,970
Gaël Clichy Man City DF 57 77.19% 64 64 40 40 1,040 85.87% 20 1,660

However, when it comes to the defensive side of things, the ex-Arsenal stalwart looks to have the upper hand, leading his rival in every category save for tackle accuracy, despite playing fewer top-flight minutes, while also standing out as the superior passer.

Ultimately, it appears as though Pellegrini would perhaps be wise to make his decision based on who his side is facing on the day, with Clichy a more reliable defensive option for when up against stronger opposition, and Kolarov a potential difference-maker against so-called weaker teams.

Whether that's the direction the Chilean will go remains to be seen, but there's no doubt that he's somewhat spoiled for choice between the two.

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