If Ibrox Noise regulars know one thing, it’s that we are not huge fans of Ben Davies. At all. The Rangers defender has left us cold since he joined, and while some see him as part of the side’s best rearguard beside Connor Goldson, stats from the weekend tell a different story, and are frankly more important than a decent display v Betis.
And those stats in question?
Duels. Both ground and aerial.
Connor Goldson faced 11 duels in total – he won an excellent 9 of them. Goldson actually had an ok game v Motherwell.
But Davies? He faced 9 duels and won only four of them.
That’s the difference between both of them. While we are no great fans of Goldson either, when it comes to actually defending and clearing one’s lines, Ben Davies is simply far too weak in the league.
Defending is about reading the play and being able to combat attackers, both in the air and on the deck, and Motherwell got a lot of joy by targeting Davies, who lost out over 50% of his duels.
But Goldson won 90% of his.
Where else was this pattern seen?
James Tavernier – he was beaten for 5 of his 11 aerial duels, but won all 3 of his ground duels. Barisic? Won 3 of 4 ground duels but won just one of his 4 aerials.
Rangers’ defence, especially Davies, are losing out far too many times with duels – and that’s because the players overall aren’t physically strong enough.
If we go back that Livi match, Souttar won 6 of his 8 duels. Balogun won 9 of his 14. This is a strong rate. Not perfect, but better than Goldson Davies, with the latter just not physical enough.
But the paradox is that v Betis in the UEL, Davies won 5 of 7 and Goldson 5 of 6. As we said, this squad (or that defence) is able to compete at Europa League level, but struggles domestically, because the SPL is just more physical.
What does this mean?
Well the stats give the best picture really, and the squad Steven Gerrard (and Gio) built for the Europa League still thrives at that level, but Michael Beale seems unwilling to use the best SPL combinations of players to thrive on the domestic front.
That’s his choice, we suppose.