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Arsenal’s 2-1 win over Swansea on Saturday was their 4th successive victory since the defeat at Watford that led to Hornets captain Troy Deeney to openly question the team’s lack of cojones. It was the third time in a week that the team have come from behind to win.
Against Everton, Arsenal came from behind to batter Everton, costing Ronald Koeman his job; then two goals from teenage prodigy Eddie Nketiah saw them upend Norwich’s one goal lead in the Carabao Cup. And on Saturday, Arsene Wenger’s men overturned Swansea’s one goal lead to win 2-1 at the Emirates.
One player who impacted the Swansea game more than the others was left-back Sead Kolasinac. The Bosnia & Herzegovina international scored the equaliser and then created the winner for Aaron Ramsey, and the left-back looks a real ‘free’ deal.
Since his arrival, Kolasinac has impressed fans with his dodged determination and the will to fight for every ball. With that bulky physique, he has also made the Gunners a physically more robust side. Acquired this summer on a free transfer from Schalke, Kolasinac is showing that there are bargains still available in an otherwise highly inflated transfer market.
Let us have a look how Arsenal’s high-flying Kolasinac compares with other top left-backs in the league.
It is tough to properly judge defenders by their stats alone, with some of the best in the game often winning far fewer tackles and aerial duels than players at smaller clubs.
Number of interceptions, meanwhile, is a decent indicator of a defender’s positioning, highlighting their ability to stop passes before they reach their target. Based on league stats so far this season, in terms of interceptions per 90 minutes, Kolasinac, with 0.93 per game, is better than Ben Davies (0.44) and Alberto Moreno (0.62), with Marcos Alonso leading the way with (1.34).
In terms of blocks, the Arsenal wing-back, who has made 0.12 per game, is some way behind his competitors, with Bertrand leading the summit with (0.40) per game.
Kolasinac has made 2.22 clearances per game, only superior to Bertrand’s (1.31), while Moreno (2.63), Alonso (3.73) and Davies (4.36) are miles ahead.
However, the Bosnian has demonstrated that he is an excellent tackler, with him registering 1.87 per game, only fewer than Moreno’s 2.25.
Finally, with regards to aerial duels, Kolasinac has enjoyed an astonishing 69.23% success per game, which, while being higher than what Davies, Alonso and Bertrand have mustered, is much less than Moreno’s return of 55.56%.
It is, without a shadow of doubt, equally important in the modern game that a full-back should have an impact on the game going forward. Just like being defensively sound, a full-back has to be excellent when it comes to contributing to the attacks as well.
The fact that Kolasinac has been used as a wing-back by Wenger certainly bodes well for Arsenal in this regard, as he has a goal and three assists in 9 league appearances this season. In comparison, Davies has 2 goals and as many assists in 7 games while Alonso has only a pair, that came against Tottenham. Southampton’s Bertrand and Liverpool’s Moreno are yet to break their ducks.
Meanwhile, on the subject of key passes, Kolasinac has been successful, with 6 per game, and he again trails significantly behind the likes of Davies, Bertrand, Moreno and Alonso in that regard.
Kolasinac has created one chance per 90 minutes on average and is tied with Bertrand, whereas Davies has set up 2.57 chances per 90 minutes and Moreno has produced 1.25.
The statistical comparison shows Kolasinac is way behind the other left-backs. The Germany-born Bosnian certainly needs to improve with regards to some aspects of his defending, such as blocks made, interceptions and clearances.
However, he has made a strong impact as a left-wing back going forward, as his solitary goal and three assists further demonstrates the fact. He perhaps needs to contribute more in the attack and bring his huge figure into action more when it comes to defending.
In all fairness, Kolasinac is not the best left-back in England but has the qualities to become one in the near future. After a goal and an assist against Swansea, manager Wenger’s praiseful words should act as an injection of confidence for the 24-year-old.