With pre-season just around the corner, who will Manuel Pellegrini decide to be his first-choice right back?
There is a justifiable case for both Pablo Zabaleta and Ryan Fredericks to be first choice for the 19/20 season. Both showed last season that they can perform at the level required; the decision could almost be down to the style preferred for each game. I suspect that Fredericks will play often than not in the coming season though.
First, I have a few stats to compare the two.
|Last Man/Line Clearances||0||2|
|Errors Leading to Goals||1||1|
Researching this I was surprised that most stats were quite similar. I expected Zabaleta to be far more successful defensively than Fredericks, but in fact the only material difference was that Fredericks appears to be more efficient when it comes to challenging the opposition.
I don’t think Zabaleta is likely to be making too many last-man challenges as he doesn’t have the speed to be getting back to that position. I remember Fredericks against Arsenal managing to catch up with an attacker from an unfavourable position to make a last-ditch challenge and preventing the scoreline being 1-1. I don’t think we have many other players that would have been able to get back to even have a chance of making a challenge.
I know the stats don’t paint the full picture, but it certainly fills me with more confidence in the defensive side of Fredericks game. My initial thoughts on him were that he needed to improve this, and quickly, over the course of the season, we certainly saw this happen. But to see the stats also show he was better than Zabaleta in challenging the opposition makes me certain that he should be our first-choice right back for next season.
To have such an experienced and capable player as his back up will keep him on his toes for sure, and if he isn’t performing then we have a player who will be ready and willing to come in and do the job required.
Fredericks is very much the modern full back. He has blistering pace, which is a great attribute to have both offensively and defensively. To begin with he was a little unsure when going forward, once he met an opposition player he quite often took the safe option, but once again his confidence grew as the season went on; just look at his goal at the end of the season. It was a neat finish and a determined run. Hopefully next season we will see much more of the same from him!
I expect, and hope, that Fredericks will improve again throughout the season and make that position his own.
Let me know who you think should be starting next season, are the stats irrelevant or do they indicate something other than the conclusion I came to?
By Jack Farrell (@myWHUopinion)