How does Tottenham’s Nabil Bentaleb compare with Manchester United’s Daley Blind?

Nabil Bentaleb Spurs

Manchester United host Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday, pitting two fantastic holding midfielders against one another.

Nabil Bentaleb v Daley Blind: Head to Head: Premier League 2014/15: 20150312

Nabil Bentaleb has been one of the best players in the Premier League this season, helping Spurs fight for a top-four spot despite his young age.

Manchester United signed Daley Blind in the summer looking for him to play the same role as Bentaleb does for Spurs. Technical holding players, Blind is amazingly versatile, but he has looked his best in the midfield. Although the Red Devils have been criticised for their slow, turgid play, the Dutch international has enjoyed a positive season, and has been one of few bright points.

Blind arrived in England with a strong reputation as a classy midfielder, whereas Bentaleb has built his own this season, having only broken onto the scene last year. Pushed into the first team by Tim Sherwood, and trusted by Mauricio Pochettino, at the age of just 20-years-old, it looks as if the youngster has a bright and successful career ahead of him.

However, when the two players face off against one another this weekend, it will be how they play in the present that defines the game, rather than any future career. The midfield battle will be key at Old Trafford, as Louis van Gaal will look to stifle the creative play of Tottenham’s forwards, and Bentaleb will need to be at the top of his game as both a defensive and creative force.

With Bentaleb and Blind being of such importance to their respective teams for the fixture, we take a look at how their seasons have compared so far, and who may get the upper hand as they stand face-to-face.

  AppearancesPasses per GamePassing AccuracyTackles Won per GameInterceptions per GameTouches per GameMins Played
Nabil Bentaleb 16 58.4 85% 1.7 2.5 71.2 1298
Daley Blind 16 66.1 90% 1.7 3.7 81.6 1389

Both players have played 16 games in the Premier League this season, due to various injuries limiting their involvement, but their stats prove just how vital the pair are to their respective teams.

Bentaleb completes an impressive 58.4 passes per game, with an accuracy of 85%, and wins both an impressive amount of tackles and interceptions every time he takes to the field. Whilst his personal statistics are impressive, Blind has excelled even more highly than him.

More passes per game, with a better accuracy, as well as more interceptions - although he has completed the same amount of tackles - whilst playing slightly more minutes shows Blind’s experience. He has five more years of top-level football than Bentaleb, and his game management shows when watching him play, compared with the Algerian international’s occasional lapses.

Blind has also been criticised this season for buying into van Gaal’s system too much, and is frequently indecisive in his passing. He often passes sideways, and it is no surprise that Bentaleb’s pass completion is slightly lower as he attempts more forward passes than the Dutchman.

  % Passes Are Forward
Bentaleb 28.1%
Blind 26.0%

Despite his more forward play, Bentaleb is actually the least efficient attacker of the duo. Unlike Blind he has yet to score this season, despite taking more shots, and, although he has more assists to his name, he only plays the same amount of key passes as Blind, despite more of his passes going forward.

  GoalsShots per GameAssistsKey Passes per Game
Blind 2 1.0 1 0.8
Bentaleb 0 1.1 2 0.8

All in all, the duo are two of the best holding players in the Premier League, and they are vital to any success that their teams will enjoy in the future. However, at this current moment in time, Blind would be the player to choose ahead of Bentaleb, and it would come as no surprise to see him win the midfield battle at Old Trafford

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