As Arsenal fans know the player that the club has missed the most recently has been Kieran Gibbs. With Gibbs having been out injured, Andre Santos has come in but has come under a lot of scrutiny with some of his performances. This piece will look at a number of statistics comparing the two left backs, and leave it up to the reader to decide how much Arsenal have missed Kieran Gibbs. The stats have come from the 7 league starts of Gibbs and the 3 starts and 2 subs appearances of Andre Santos in the English Premier League.
As Arsenal are a side who like to keep possession, shown by their 60% possession across their league matches from this season. Because of this, it’s important that all the players are able to keep possession as effectively and efficiently as possible.
The stats show that their open play pass completion rates are very similar with Gibbs having a 88% successful pass rate (309 from 351) while Santos has a 87% successful pass completion rate (205 from 235). The statistics, however, show from all passes (which also includes goal kicks, free kicks, throw in’s, etc) that Gibbs doesn’t complete as many passes with only a 80.98% pass success rate, whereas Santos has a 86.72% success rate. The main area which has let Gibbs down is the attacking third passes (Gibbs- 77%, Santos- 83%).
However, these stats can’t be looked at independently. The statistics show that Santos has a better successful pass completion rate, and it would appear rightly so. The opposition for their matches must also be examined, as Santos has played against Norwich and QPR, whereas Gibbs came up against Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool, much better teams.
This is the area which shows that Kieran Gibbs outshines Andre Santos substantially. The main areas which defensive duties focus on are:- Ground duels, aerial duels, tackles, interceptions and how many times the player is dribbled past. In most of these facets, Gibbs is the clearly superior player, but Santos outshines in some area’s.
In terms of ground duels, the players have similar stats for average number per match, with Gibbs having done 58 in 7 matches (8.28/match), whereas Santos has competed in 42 duels in 7 matches (8.4/match). Where Gibbs shows his superior quality is he has won 60% of his duels, Santos has only won 40%.
For the aerial duels, the players have very similar statistics. Kieran Gibbs has competed in 20 aerial duels at 35% success, Santos has competed in 8 duels with a 38% success rate. As mentioned above, Gibbs has played in 7 matches and Santos only 5 league matches, so you could expect that Gibbs would have competed in more but not to that extent. The first two matches of Arsenal’s season against Stoke and Sunderland, who are two of the most direct teams who like to play lots of aerial football, so that’s one reason that Gibbs has the much higher number.
As is well known, tackling is one of the most important facets of a defender’s game. Comparatively, Gibbs and Santos have done a similar amount of tackles per minutes on the pitch, with Gibbs having competed in 26 tackles at an average of 23 mins/tackle. Santos’ stats show he has competed in 14 tackles at an average of 22 mins/tackle. Santos comes out on top fairly substantially in the successful tackle percentage with Gibbs having achieved a 80.77% successful rate and Santos at 92.86% successful tackling rate.
The interceptions completed and how many times a player is dribbled past is able to show how smart a defender is, and how well they are able to read a game. The comparison between the player’s interceptions show that Gibbs has completed 25 interceptions (23.84 mins/interception), with Santos completing 13 interceptions (24 mins/interception). Gibbs shines in the area of player’s dribbling past him, with him being beaten 6 times, Santos 11 times. Comparatively, Gibbs is beaten once every 99.33 mins, Santos once every 28.36 minutes. That clearly favours Gibbs and shows his superior intelligence defensively on the pitch.
Kieran Gibbs has been very good in this area, and is able to keep possession very well. He has only lost possession 2 times in 7 matches, Santos has only lost possession 2 times also in his 5 matches. The big difference is, because the amount of minutes played, Gibbs has only lost possession every 298 minutes, Santos has lost possession every 156 minutes.
People perceive that Santos is a better attacking fullback than Gibbs but stats from this season show that is incorrect. Gibbs has attempted 9 dribbles this season with 3 successful (33%), Santos has attempted 5 dribbles with 1 successful (20%).
In terms of crossing, Gibbs has ventured forward much more often, having attempted 33 crosses to Santos’ 9 attempted crosses. Although, Gibbs’ crossing has been far less effective, with only 15% of his crosses successful. Whereas, Santos has completed 56% of his crosses. This shows that while Santos may not complete many crosses, he is very effective in this area.
Gibbs has been able to create a goalscoring chance more often than Santos has so far this season, something that Arsenal need to have in their team. This has been shown by Gibbs’ 7 chances created (1 every 85 mins), with Santos having created 3 goal scoring chances (1 every 104 minutes). However, Gibbs is aided by his 2 goals created against Southampton from his overlapping runs, which both created in own goals.
All in all, these stats show that Gibbs is the better player and that Arsenal have missed him in the past games due to his injury. These statistics don’t take into account mistakes such as Andre Santos’ against Norwich, where he didn’t move up in the defensive line, which helped Grant Holt score the winning goal. However, the above stats show that Gibbs has, and is, doing a very good job at left back, in comparison to Santos.
All of the stats from this article have been taken from the Opta Stats Centre at EPLIndex.com – Subscribe Now (Includes author privileges!) Check out our new Top Stats feature on the Stats Centre which allows you to compare all players in the league & read about new additions to the stats centre.