Tottenham Hotspur defender Eric Dier and Manchester United youngster Tyler Blackett have both played a similar number of minutes in the Premier League this season but have endured perceived different starts.
Dier has been praised for the way he’s settled in following a move from Sporting Lisbon while Blackett’s inexperience in the Manchester United backline has often been criticised.
In terms of tackles won so far this season, Dier is way out in front of Blackett.
That can be explained by the fact he has been used in a wider role by Mauricio Pochettino, in the right-back slot, which arguably places him under more pressure to win the ball back off of wingers.
One area where Blackett is clearly ahead is in terms of effective clearances. He’s been productive in situations where he’s been placed under pressure to clear the ball quickly and effectively.
The interceptions stats also suggest that Blackett is reading the game more effectively than Dier. A potential explanation could be the way van Gaal set the defence up at the start of the season.
Blackett was forced into a slightly wider position when the wing-backs went forward which forced him to read the play, move into space and cut out the ball before danger developed.
There’s little between the players in terms of the fouls they’ve given away but Dier is ahead in terms of the number of aerial duels he’s winning this season, which suggests he’s more effective in terms of removing the aerial threat when sides try to attack Spurs over the top.
Both players are embarking on their first full seasons in the Premier League and there are likely to be plenty of changes in these key areas throughout the season.