Should Steven Taylor be in the England squad?
Much has been said about Newcastle United’s excellent start to the season, no more so than from the Geordie public ourselves. Much always regularly creeps up about the immense defensive record NUFC continue to behold. As the ‘joint-best’ defenders, with Man City and now Liverpool, NUFC boast a record of conceding only 11 goals in 12 Premier League games. To give that some perspective, recent Carling Cup victors Blackburn and last years 5-1 demolishers of us, Bolton, have conceded a massive 56 goals between them in their 12 game tenure!
While all of the glory cannot be focused on one of Newcastle United’s sturdy back men, it does come to one’s surprise that a backline consisting regularly of 3 Englishmen do not have even 1 selected in the current international set-up.
It could be argued that the likes of Micah Richards, Kyle Walker and Glen Johnson are in another league to Danny Simpson and that the performance of Ryan Taylor at left back this season has been of more threat going forward and from set plays than one of a defensive soundness; but one striking question is why Steven Taylor continues to be overlooked by England’s Italian shot-caller.
NUFC_Stats looks at Taylor statistically for his club, in the league and in comparison to the contenders!
Taylor has appeared, despite a broken nose and the wearing of a facial mask recently, in all of NUFC’s 12 Premier League games so far, competing 90 minutes minimum on each occasion. He currently makes more clearances (8.6 a game on average) and most blocks (1.2) than any of his black and white counterparts and has the 3rd best pass success rate with 80.2%. With that rate, he only produces 1.3 long balls per game on average, the 8th least of the starting regulars, showing his quality on the ball and his composure in possession.
Aerially, Taylor wins 1.8 battles per game on average, bettered only by Leon Best at the club (2.9) and he makes only 0.4 fouls, the least of NUFC’s consistent 11. Tackling doesn’t seem to be Steven Taylor’s forte however; only 0.7 tackles are won by him per game (Colo makes 2.4) and he only intercepts the opposition 1.1 times a game, 1 places below 2nd placed Captain Colo who manages 2.5 interceptions per game on average.
In the PL:
As far being a top centre half in the most demanding league in the world goes, Taylor is doing his damndest to keep up with the best! He leads the entire Premier League blocking shots – at 22 shot blocks in 12 games so far, only Gary Cahill comes close with 18. He is also the 10th best in the PL for clearing the ball; providing cover and reading the game a progress he has made significantly in the past few seasons. Taylor has ‘nicked’ the ball 103 times in his 12 games thus far (Ryan Shawcross tops the list with 137). This time aerially, Taylor does come a little unstuck; the Geordie boy currently stands at a gaping 41st in the ‘headers won’ table. With a 1.8 per game winning rate, he sits alongside Anton Ferdinand and Martin Skrtel. Unsurprisingly, Peter Crouch is the leader of this board with 4.7 headers won per game on average. The top defender for aerial challenges is Younes Kaboul with 4.6 and the top English defender for heading is Gary Cahill with 3.3. As Taylors’ stats at club level show, for tackling and intercepting he features some way down the pecking order compared to the rest of the PL!
v England contenders:
The table below shows the comparison between Taylor and the current/recent regime in defending statistics (article written before the Manchester United game in which Taylor excelled):
Call up on the cards?
In comparison to the current England ‘possibles’, Steven Taylor’s statistics fair pretty well. While he may have some way to go to equal or better their tackle and interception rate, it seems his intelligence is a good as any. He reads the game better than most, making ample clearances and blocking shots in the danger area and he concedes very few fouls. Furthermore, his pass success rate may not be as accomplished as some of the others but he is composed in his possession, playing few long balls with his minimal touches. Also, despite NUFC having one of the worst aerial records in the PL, Taylor has the 3rd best record of these England ‘hopefuls’ highlighting his prowess in the air.
From a statistical analysis point of view, Steven Taylor is out performing many of those already being credited with England recognition; as an average of the statistics in the above table, Taylor comes out in 4.7th place (5th really!!), out-doing Gary Cahill and Phil Jagielka for most values in particular. It also has to be said that in the cases of the likes of Phil Jones, Joleon Lescott and Rio Ferdinand, it would be interesting to see their stats if they played for Newcastle; the Manchester teams have two of the meanest defensive and hard working midfields in the league to help their centre back counter parts, not to mention extremely talented, international full backs and GK’s.