If there’s a Rangers player we’ve not really covered in major depth here on Ibrox Noise, it’s defender Ben Davies. Following a stop-start time to his career at Ibrox, he’s started to cement his place in the past couple of months next to returning Connor Goldson, so of what modest return we’ve had for the £4M spent on him, how would we assess his performances so far?
Let’s look at the raw stats first:
His average rating, by whoscored.com, purely on data, is a respectable 6.75, but it’s only 47th in the Scottish Premiership. There are 46 defenders, or players with better defensive statistics than Davies, Tavernier and Barisic being two (7.58 and 7.36 respectively).
He fares much better on passing, 85%, among the top 15 in the whole division, but a defender’s job is defending, so how does he do on each of the numbers?
Now, remember, this isn’t related to appearances number, it’s just a combined total of the appearances he’s made, meaning someone with two appearances can be on average better than someone on 15.
So those defensive stats…
For tackles he’s a lowly 123 of 170, with just 0.6 tackles per match, interceptions are slightly better at 0.9 and 59th in the league, clearances 2 per match at 37th and blocks? 69th of 128 with 0.2.
In short, his numbers are absolutely bang average, Ben Davies has not been anything to crow about and midtable teams have plenty of defenders doing a lot better for pure defending.
And it’s borne out in what we see – Rangers’ defence is shaky, and indeed the only time we ever saw it look solid with the Goldson Davies duo was at Anfield, where Davies was out to prove Jurgen Klopp wrong about him and he put in the best first half of his Rangers career.
Otherwise? He’s not been horrible, albeit his absolute laziness for Aberdeen’s goal on Sunday was very poor, but it’s clear he’s not a good foil for Connor Goldson at all – they are simply far too similar.
Both are all about being on the ball and passing well, playing with composure, neither of them is about physical brute force defending. There is not a single defender in Rangers’ backline who fits the ‘human cannonball’ Ibrox Noise’s Derek once spoke about when referring to Niko Katic.
And the goals against column is pretty unimpressive as a result. 7 played, 7 conceded. And Davies’ rather ‘slight’ frame doesn’t really help.
He’s not a strong imposing presence, doesn’t dominate matches, and as yet, lacks any major understanding with Connor Goldson.
Manager Michael Beale doesn’t seem to mind at all – if we concede one, we score two. It’s high risk high reward and we’re not going to get many clean sheets under this manager.
As for Davies, he’s clearly the first pick, not our preference and we’d rather have Filip Helander, but well that’s a bit of a non-starter and probably always will be.