When Andre Santos arrived from Fenerbahce on deadline day in August 2011, opinion was divided whether the left-back would prove to be a success or failure with Arsenal. The Brazilian has begun well, enduring himself to the Gunners faithful by scoring the equalizing second goal in the Gunners 5-3 beating of Chelsea in October.
However, a majority of fans are still unconvinced about the maverick’s defensive competence. Lack of match fitness, getting caught up the field, giving the ball away too much, not tracking back enough and not showing enough determination in duels are some of the allegations against the defender. He certainly does not inspire much confidence with his seemingly lethargic approach on the pitch.
So is Andre Santos as bad a defender as he’s made out to be?
Let’s go through some statistics from the EPL Index treasure trove (powered by OPTA) and see if they paint a picture. For the purpose of this analysis, I will be comparing Santos with his own team-mate Kieran Gibbs, as well as left-backs from the remaining three top-four teams.
Firstly, let’s look at the number of games and minutes played.
As you can see, the Brazilian has started the least number of games and played the least amount of time. As a rule, one would assume more game time is beneficial to a player’s form, so Santos is probably disadvantaged in this respect in comparison to the others. There’s another opinion you can form based on minutes played and I’ll address that later in the article.
The second table below looks at involvement and success rates in duels and interceptions made.
As we can see, Santos is just marginally behind his own team-mate in % of Ground Duels won but ahead of the other three left-backs. The Brazilian is well ahead of everyone in the Aerial Win %. The Brazilian’s minutes per Ground 50-50’s stat is way better than the others, his per minute Aerial 50-50s is behind Gibbs but comparable to two of the other three. And he makes interceptions with more regularity than any of the other four.
What this suggests is that Santos is heavily involved in the action, and compares very favorably with his peers in winning 50-50s and making interceptions.
Next Page: The comparison continues with passing and tackling stats for Dos Santos et al…