10 Sept 2015

Owen raves: 'Marauding' £12m star is better than Liverpool's 'outstanding' summer signing. Agree?

Rejoice! The interminable international break is finally over, so it's thankfully back to business for Liverpool and the Premier League. The excitement (and trepidation) is building for this weekend's Manchester United-Liverpool crunch-clash, and ahead of the game, ex-Red - and Manc alumni - Michael Owen has been casting eye over the relative merits of the defensive options available to both squads. Who has the better full-backs? According to Owen, United come out on top at both left and right back.

Speaking to the Premier League's official website, Owen hailed Luke Shaw as a 'fabulous' footballer, and claimed that Matteo Darmian is a better than 'outstanding' right-back Nathaniel Clyne. He explained:

"I have been really impressed with him [Darmian]. It's a close call between him and Nathaniel Clyne, but I am going for Darmian. He has played particularly well...marauding down the right".

United's results are exactly the same as Liverpool's so far this season: two 1-0 wins, followed by a 0-0 draw, and then a defeat.

The 2-1 reverse at Swansea, however, is a lot easier to stomach than the lamentable 3-0 home hammering the Reds suffered at the hands of West Ham.

Both teams also achieved three clean sheets in a row, and the full-backs played a big role in that, but is Darmian actually performing better than Clyne?

Let's look at the stats:

* Games played: NC: 4 | MD: 4

* Minutes: NC: 360 | MD: 338

* Passing Accuracy: NC: 78% | MD: 84%

* Duels Won: NC: 15 | MD: 24

* Aerial Duels Won: NC: 1 | MD: 3

* Recoveries/Blocks/Clearances/Interceptions: NC: 39 | MD: 31

* Tackles Won: NC: 2 | MD: 4

* Chances Created: NC: 2 | MD: 2

* Goals/assists: NC: 0 | MD: 0

Stats: OPTA

With no goals/assists, and only two chances created in four games, Darmian's attacking impact is exactly the same as Clyne's (i.e. negligible), so the Italian's 'marauding' runs - whilst good to watch - yield little specific benefit.

Defensively, Darmian - who, like Clyne, cost £12m - slightly shades it overall, and his passing accuracy is also superior, but it's early days yet, and right now, it's hard to separate the two players in terms overall impact on their respective teams.

With any luck, though, the debate will be settled this weekend, hopefully in Clyne's favour.

Author: Jaimie K


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