HomeOTHEREPLGlen Johnson | Disproving the Myths

Glen Johnson | Disproving the Myths

A Statistical Analysis on Glen Johnson in relation to his Premier League counterparts.

Since his transfer to Liverpool in June 2009 for approximately £17million, Glen Johnson has become one of the most well-recognised right-backs in the Premier League. Despite this, fans across the country have often become dismayed at the apparent lack of defensive nous for Liverpool, and England. According to numerous statistics, this appears to be a case of good performances being lost in television translation.

The above table illustrates the [defensive and offensive] statistical comparisons between Glen Johnson and several of the Premier League’s best full-backs. Despite this article majorly analysing the defensive aptitude, taking into consideration the attacking statistics allows us to more accurately analyse the full-backs as a complete package.

I’ve put some of the key defensive stats into graph form to more visually compare Johnson’s defensive abilities as a whole, rather than analysing each individual stat on its own. This is because the dispute regarding Johnson’s defensive inabilities is around him as a whole.

The above bar chart shows the differences [and similarities] between Glen Johnson and a few other of the Premier League’s best fullbacks. Immediately, you can tell, looking at the names of the other players that there is a large range in terms of ability and in the player’s traits. For example, Ivanovic is famed as being a rock-solid central defender cum right-back. Bringing him into the comparison allows us to compare Johnson to one of the most defensive right-backs in the league. And despite Ivanovic rarely contributing offensively, it seems Johnson has the edge in almost every defensive area – surprisingly much better aerially also.

Then there is the comparison with supposedly one of England and Chelsea’s most reliable players, Ashley Cole. Although the stats reveal that defensively, Cole is a dramatic step below Johnson in terms of ability. The Chelsea star was worse than Johnson in every single defensive area, with Johnson particularly exceeding Cole aerially, with Johnson twice as successful in aerial duels. This suggests that Ashley Cole is actually the full-back England should be worried about.

Despite this though, unfortunately, we cannot simply say that Glen Johnson is one of the best defensive full-backs in the league. A 4-4-2 setup was generally operated throughout the 2010/11 season at Liverpool with the workhorse of Dirk Kuyt stationed in front of Johnson. Compare this to the likes of Ashley Cole (who had no-one in front of him in the narrow 4-3-3 formation of Chelsea, or Bacary Sagna who had the tremendously attacking-oriented Theo Walcott in front of him), shows that the Liverpool system is designed to lift the pressue on Johnson’s defensive game more so than other full-backs’ respective systems.

A large number of experts, amateurs, pundits, and various other knowledgeable football insiders have commented that Johnson does have a lack of defensive nous and ability. When so many of the game’s experts share an opinion on a similar topic, they tend to be right; here, though, the claims have simply been exaggerated. Glen Johnson is no worse a defender than the likes of Ashley Cole or Patrice Evra.

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