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Talking Tactics

Wan-Bissaka happy at being hard to beat

Adrian Clarke 7 Mar 2019
Aaron Wan-Bissaka

Adrian Clarke says Crystal Palace right-back's focus on defensive duties is paying off ahead of Brighton test

Adrian Clarke looks at a key tactical talking point in Matchweek 30.

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If Brighton & Hove Albion’s Jose Izquierdo or Alireza Jahanbakhsh look up on the left wing and see Aaron Wan-Bissaka closing them down on Saturday, they may be excused for declining to take him on.

Many have tried and failed to go past Crystal Palace's right-back, nicknamed "Spider" for his long legs.

Indeed, while there have been 54 take-on attempts against him this season, there have only been seven completed dribbles.

In 1v1 situations it is hard to think of a better defender.

Rapid progress

It is easy to forget that the 21-year-old has only been a first-team regular for 12 months, having made his Premier League debut against Tottenham Hotspur on 25 February 2018.

Fearless, aggressive and exceptional in the timing of his challenges, his burgeoning reputation is built on his ability to win clean tackles out wide.

Remarkably, especially for a rookie defender, Wan-Bissaka has won more tackles than anyone else across Europe’s top five leagues in 2018/19.

Europe's top tacklers 2018/19
Player Club Tackles won
Aaron Wan-Bissaka Crystal Palace 71
Wilfred Ndidi Leicester 66
Idrissa Gueye Everton 62
Allan Napoli 58
Benjamin Andre Rennes 56
Marcelo Brozovic Inter Milan 56
Safety first

During his time as a Palace youth player, Wan-Bissaka was a winger who loved to take defenders on.

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    Aaron Wan-Bissaka
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Aaron Wan-Bissaka Player Profile

He is still a fine dribbler, completing 1.74 take-ons per 90 minutes, the 24th-highest average in the Premier League rankings.

But he is also selective about the right moments to surge into the final third.

Pace to burn

He has the speed and creativity to make chances, as he showed when supplying Michy Batshuayi’s goal at Burnley last weekend, and an impressive 23 per cent of his crosses have found a team-mate.

However, his assist at Turf Moor was one of just 11 opportunities he has fashioned this campaign.

For now, he appears happy to prioritise defending and his ball-winning statistics are remarkable for a player with such limited experience.

If the last 12 months are anything to go by, a long and successful career at the highest level lies ahead.

Wan-Bissaka's tackling 2018/19
Stat Per 90 PL rank
Tackles won 2.8 1
Tackles made 4.0 2
Tackles success 69.8% 4
Interceptions 2.3 15
Also in this series

Part 1: Form of Lukaku spells danger for Arsenal
Part 2: Capoue and Doucoure key to Watford success
Part 4: Liverpool need forwards to find their form

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