The 2012/13 English Premier League season has showcased an array of talent since the beginning of the season, and one player who has attracted an acute interest from all observers is Southampton Football Club’s young full back Luke Shaw.
Shaw has experienced a prodigious rise in stature during the last 8 months. Accelerated through the Saints’ youth academy, he has apparently integrated into the Southampton team with confidence. Since his début, a 9-minute cameo at West Brom, he has appeared in every league game for Southampton, with 14 starts and one substitute appearance, which was forced due to illness.
While teams like Arsenal and Chelsea flutter flirtatious glances at the 17-year-old, it has been mooted by observers that Shaw will continue to progress and become a future England international. Whether the almost unanimous adulation for the defender will see him fulfill his exponentially increasing potential will remain to be seen. What is clearly apparent, though, is that, even at his tender age, he seems to have effortlessly taken his first footsteps into a exciting career.
At club level he has already demonstrated his ability by ousting Danny Fox as first choice. His defensive statistics make impressive reading and further highlight Fox’s relative inability in defensive phases of play.
In Shaw’s 16 games he has won 83% of the tackles he has attempted with a 100% success in 10 of these. In comparison, Fox has an overall record of 67% tackles won. In reference to his future England chances, arguably his main competition, Kieran Gibbs, has only a 69% success rate.
The aerial statistics continue to favour Shaw ahead of his two peers, he has won 58% of aerial duels, an impressive value for a full back, compared to Fox’s 48% and Gibbs’ 47%. Furthermore, Shaw averages 2.6 successful clearances per match compared to 1.2 for Fox and 2.1 for Gibbs
Alas, for Shaw, it is offensively where his dominance diminishes. A priority for any England full back is the ability to contribute to all phases of play and in this department, Shaw’s fledgling career needs a substantial improvement. In his 16 games this season Shaw has only created 4 chances, of which 2 came against QPR. Compare this to the 23 for Gibbs and 15 for Fox and it is clear to see that he does not offer his team enough as a creative threat.
The aforementioned statistic, however, seemingly contradicts the orthodox view that Shaw is not considered a significant attacking threat. He has attempted an average of 1.5 dribbles a match with a 52% success rate, compared to Gibbs’ average of 1.1 dribbles per match with a 38% success rate. Shaw has entered the opposing penalty area 25 times in compared to 23 times by Gibbs. He also has a 23% cross accuracy to Gibbs’ 18%.
It can be concluded from the analysis that Shaw is both an excellent defender and a more than competent attacker. The fact that he is playing in a team fighting bravely against relegation should be considered in any comparison but despite the challenges he and his team face, he continues to excel and show the ability and maturity that will see him become an exciting addition to the England team.