Bayern Munich’s defensive midfielder Javi Martinez has been the centre of the transfer rumours off late as there have been reports of him being unhappy in Bavaria. Arsenal, a team which desperately needs top quality defensive midfielders, would obviously monitor his situation. As we all know, Lars Bender has been a player who has been long linked with Arsenal, and now Martinez adds to the list of rumours.
Here we will have a statistical comparison and discuss who will fit better in an Arsenal squad. As we know, deep stats give a good idea about how the player performs; we look at some key attributes for a defensive midfielder.
Javi Martinez has an overwhelming pass completion of 90% in comparison to the decent tally of his German counterpart who has 77%. This shows the style of play both teams like to execute. With the Bavarians, possession based game was the style implemented by Pep Guardiola and Martinez, who was employed in the centre back as well as defensive midfield position, was obviously instructed to pass safe. Bender on the other hand has a lower pass completion but is much more direct. He has had 0.70 key passes per 90 metrics in comparison to Martinez’s nonexistent 0.07.
Since this season hasn’t exactly been the best for the Spaniard as he has been injured or has been played deeper than usual, we can check his stats for 12-13 season which gives a better picture about how the Spaniard plays. With 88 percent pass completion and 0.41 key passes per 90 metrics, Javi Martinez is a top quality defensive midfielder, a modern destroyer. Bender on the other hand, is technically more of a midfield engine, who runs for the team. As further stats will justify this statement.
Tackling and Interceptions
There is no doubt about who the harder tackler is. Lars Bender tackles much more than Martinez, who instead likes to anticipate play and make interceptions. We consider the stats, Bender wins 3.37 tackles and loses 4.27 whereas Martinez wins 2.60 and loses 2.67. Bender is clearly the midfield engine, the guy who’ll close down opponents and has a strong work ethic. His defensive play is effective because of his energy and rawness on the pitch. That doesn’t mean he’s a tactically poor player, as he has shown decent game reading as well, as he has 1.88 interceptions per 90 metrics whereas Martinez has 2.02 this season and had a much better 2.66 last season.
Martinez was technically the type of player that Bayern needed, a player who could sit in front of the defence and keep the ball rolling. A big man, the Spaniard makes full use of his strength and height to win more than 70 percent of his aerial duels consistently for two seasons, something which Bender isn’t too known for.
We look at two different types of defensive midfielders- One an engine, the other a physically strong block midfielder. According to the stats and the style of play Arsenal are known for, the Gunners seemingly need a midfield engine like Bender, who could play the enforcer using his unstoppable energy. He can be utilized as a box to box as well as a proper defensive midfielder for Arsenal and with that sort of energy and aggressive tackling, he can reduce the burden on some of Arsenal’s creative flair players.
Playing him in the pivot can be very effective for the gunners, as he can play alongside Arteta or Wilshere and can offer them some attacking license. But then, Martinez isn’t a bad choice either! When you have a player of his ability, he can sit in front of the back four and win the ball almost every time there is a counter attack. His physical presence can add a lot of height and solidarity to Arsenal. While both can be really good prospects, Bender edges slightly better than the Spaniard owing to the pressing style of Arsenal and his unlimited engine.
Stats via Whoscored