Burnley have been one of the biggest surprises in the Premier League this season. Sean Dyche’s men find themselves in the thirteenth position of the league table and some distance away from the relegation zone, where most expected them to be.
A brilliant home record, combined with some defensive solidity has meant the Clarets have managed to rise above expectations and perform very well. And what has been the pillar of strength for their performances this season is the solid foundation that their defence has provided.
Without a question, Michael Keane has been one of the best centre-halves of the Premier League this season. And the fact that, almost all of the top teams are taking an interest in the former Manchester United man says how good he has been.
His performances though have overshadowed his partner in the backline, Ben Mee. The 27-year old has been equally good as Keane if not better but finds himself away from the limelight. Mee hasn’t missed a single minute of the Premier League action this season for Burnley and has played all 29 games. His steady displays alongside Keane have been a big part of Burnley’s decent season so far.
And while Keane has earned his call up to the England National Team and is currently on international duty, Mee finds himself at home, training with the rest of his teammates. But he is equally deserving of the call-up to the national team and here are two reasons why:
Having started out at the Manchester City academy, Mee made just one appearance for the Citizens before moving onto Leicester City on loan and permanently to Burnley. Over the past six years, he has established as one of the key members of the Clarets’ squad.
The fact that he has already garnered up 227 appearances at club level at 27 years of age shows the amount of top level experience that he has gained over the years. Having toughed it out in the Championship for several years, Mee is showing he can make it at the top level and as a result should be given a chance on the international stage.
Consistent Performances This Season
The fact that he hasn’t missed a single game for Burnley this season exemplifies his importance to the team and also gives an indication of his amazing fitness levels.
In his 29 appearances in the league this season, Mee has made a total of 365 defensive actions – the second highest in the league, only bettered by Bournemouth’s Steve Cook (373). Even Keane has lesser than Mee with 310 defensive actions. When you compare these numbers with someone like Chris Smalling and Phil Jones who were selected ahead of Mee for the national side, the Manchester United duo just have 105 and 113 defensive actions respectively and Smalling has also been highly inconsistent this season.
The fact that he has won 143 duels on the field, at a success rate of 56% is another number that justifies his claims for an international call-up. His 143 duels is the ninth highest in the league among all defenders, with Keane winning 140 duels. Jones, on the other hand, has won 65 duels and his teammate Smalling has won 50.
Going by the numbers, it is clear that Mee has been superior to some defenders in the England squad this season and has been wrongly overlooked by manager Gareth Southgate.
*All Stats taken from Squawka.com