Tackling: a dying art, or is it?
The Premier League is renowned for the physicality it brings, yet those who have mastered the art of tackling - throwing their bodies on the line to retain possession for their side - are often ignored.
The skill remains prevalent in the English game, despite what some may say, with over 6000 attempts having already been made this season.
Louis van Gaal's Manchester United rank eighth in terms of average tackles made per match this season (having won 76% of their total attempts), while London outfit Tottenham top the rankings, having won an impressive 17.56 challenges per appearance. The Dutchman's side may have staked their claim for third place in the overall league table, but they are still being outperformed in a number of key areas; with this area being one.
|Tackles won per Match||Tackle Success (%)|
Based on the same parameters - tackles won per appearance - Antonio Valencia steals the plaudits for the Old Trafford outfit - a result that is sure to surprise a few. The Ecuadorian international has played a utility role for the Red Devils this season, filling in at both right-back and right-midfield. Nevertheless, this has not prevented him from fulfilling his defensive duties when called upon, and he certainly doesn't shirk the opportunity to win a challenge.
|Position||Tackles won per App||Appearances|
Marouane Fellaini comes a close second. The former Everton man has become an integral player for van Gaal's side this term, offering a new level of physicality to a somewhat under-powered midfield. Having averaged 2.73 tackles per match, he is not far behind Valencia, but unfortunately, there are no prizes for second place.
Meanwhile, Phil Jones, Daley Blind and Rafael complete the top five, despite playing only a fraction of the club's fixtures so far.
Jones looked to have achieved a decent level of form before injury ruled him out of action, while the same can be said for both the club's £13.8 million summer acquisition and its error-prone Brazilian right-back. When the trio have featured, they have done well getting stuck into the thick of the action, as the statistical evidence suggests.