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Arsenal’s Defensive Rock or Manchester United’s Star: Who has Been Better this Season?

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Manchester United have been searching for a top central defender since the time Louis van Gaal took over at the club. The Red Devils do have a few players in that position and surprisingly, it is an old boy that seems to be the best of the lot. Chris Smalling might not be the most fancied name in the United team but his performances last season got him a contract extension at Old Trafford and he seems to be the player in defence who cannot do much wrong, well at least compared to the others.

Chris Smalling
Chris Smalling

United were torn apart by Arsenal last weekend and one player who didn’t really have to do much was Laurent Koscielny. The French defender is one of the best in his role and has been Mr. Consistent for the Gunners despite a shaky start to his career.

We continue our series of player comparisons as we look at the performances of the duo in the Premier League. We would compare the two using Squawka.com and only look at the per game averages for the players.

The English vs. The French

Passing the ball about and ensuring the ball is played out of defence is the key to quick attacks, especially in the Premier League, Smalling  has a pass completion 87% from his eight games this season but it is Koscielny who has a better completion percentage with 91%.

Stopping the opposition from scoring is the most important job for a defender and tackling has to be one of their weapons, Koscielny averages just 0.83 tackles per game this season while Smalling averages a whopping 1.87 tackles per game for Manchester United.

However he loses out when it comes to winning aerial duels, Smalling averages a success rate of 62% in his aerial duels while Koscielny beats that with 69% from his games in the Premier League.

Laurent Koscielny
Laurent Koscielny

Koscielny does seem to read the game better as he averages an astonishing four interceptions per game while Smalling only comes in with half that number for Manchester United. The English defender also provides United with more clearances, seven per game for the Red Devils while Koscielny comes in with 5.67 clearances per game.

The French defender though has a better stat at blocking shots with an average of 1.17 blocks per game while Smalling only comes in with 0.37 blocks per game this season. All in all both defenders have their good stats and bad but Koscielny just about shades this battle from Smalling.