Steven Caulker: A leading defender for the future?

Steven Caulker: A leading defender for the future?

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The 20-year-old Englishman has been one of many beneficiary’s under new boss Andre Villas-Boas’ reign as Tottenham boss. Since leaving his loan spell at Swansea last season, the Tottenham Hotspur academy graduate has been a starting defender in Villas-Boas’ side, scoring two goals in the process and also being the recipient of an England call-up.

The defender has had to fill huge boots, with the absences of Ledley King and Younes Kaboul being incredibly tough on Tottenham’s defence, which has seen a revamped look since the absentees took up the centre-back pairing under Harry Redknapp.

Caulker however looks a fine replacement so far, with his age being only a number as he has battled the likes of Wayne Rooney, Carlos Tevez and Robin Van Persie in his short career in a Spurs shirt.

The Englishman has successfully cleared 49 balls this season for Spurs in his 585 minutes played in comparison to William Gallas’ 77 in 990 minutes played. But considering Gallas’ more defensive set-up as the last man, it is no surprise to see the Frenchman have a higher clearance rate.

Despite this, Caulker looks to pass his way out of the situation instead of hoofing the ball clear into touch or down the field to the strikeforce. He’s made over 209 passes this season, in comparison to Gallas’ 373 passes. However even though the number of passes per minute is sightly higher for Gallas (2.6) in comparison to Caulker’s (1.7), Gallas has 11% of his passes going backward in comparison to Caulker’s 8%. Interestingly, Gallas and Caulker both have 33% of their passes going forward with the rest going sideways.

Even though Caulker has been dispossessed twice, he has made over 11 interceptions in comparison to Gallas’ 18, who has played just under double the minutes of Caulker. But whilst Caulker’s weakness is his success rate for ground duals, completing one successfully every 146 minutes in comparison to Gallas’ 90, his aerial dominance is clear when looking at the difference between Gallas and Caulker.

The former Swansea defender has had to challenge for an aerial dual every 21 minutes, winning one every 36 minutes played, Gallas has won an aerial dual every 43 minutes, a fair difference between himself and the 20-year-old.

Obviously, Caulker’s not expected to be as finished and accomplished as Gallas considering the vast difference in experience. But, for a 20-year-old who has looked impressive and comfortable in a team challenging for top four football, it’s a comfort for Tottenham fans who have seen their team be jinxed with injuries so far this season.

But what about Caulker’s attacking qualities?

Just like his fellow defenders, Gallas and Vertonghen, who have both scored this season, Caulker has been a clear threat at corners and set pieces, as shown by his goal against Manchester City, Aston Villa and even playing for England on Wednesday evening.

Caulker has scored 2 goals in 6 starts for Spurs, equaling the record of Clint Dempsey who has played more minutes than the defender.

So overall, Caulker looks to be a solid prospect for the future, showing he can perform against tough opposition such as Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea. But, it remains to be seen if Caulker will still be able to challenge for a first-team spot when Benoit Assou-Ekotto and Younes Kaboul return from injury. However, with performances so far showing his positive qualities, it will be hard for Villas-Boas to drop the Englishman after his strong start to the season.

All of the stats from this article have been taken from the Opta Stats Centre at EPLIndex.comSubscribe 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.

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