How Tom Naylor's Wigan stats compare to Portsmouth replacements Ryan Tunnicliffe and Shaun Williams

Tom Naylor is proving to be a defensive talisman for Wigan as he boasts some of the best defensive stats in League One – but Pompey duo Ryan Tunnicliffe and Shaun Williams are showing they offer much more for the Blues.

Saturday, 28th August 2021, 11:00 am
From left: Ryan Tunnicliffe, Tom Naylor and Shaun Williams

The one-time Fratton Park captain is set to face his former side today at the DW Stadium, and is already displaying much of the defensive qualities we learned to admire during his PO4 days.

From central midfielders who’ve made at least two appearances this season in all competitions, the 30-year-old wins possession the most according to data platform Wyscout.

Naylor averages 14.62 duels per 90 minutes and wins back possession 75.32 per cent of the time.

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These statistics dwarf what Pompey new boy Ryan Tunnicliffe has mustered so far, with the former Luton man winning only 38.36 per cent of his duels (13.17 per 90).

Meanwhile, breaking these defensive stats down even further, the current Wigan player wins more tackles out of possession (76.92 per cent from 4.94 defensive duels per 90) and wins more aerial challenges (72 per cent from 4.75 aerial duels per 90).

From a purely defensive standpoint, Tunnicliffe isn’t comparing well with Naylor.

So far, he’s won only 50 per cent of his defensive duels (averaging 4.69 per 90) and has not made aerial challenges often enough (only 1.8 per 90 with a 50 per cent success rate).

This might look concerning for Blues fans, but Pompey haven’t conceded a goal so far in the league this season despite these figures.

Meanwhile, the presence of ex-Millwall counterpart Shaun Williams more than makes up for the loss of Naylor.

The 35-year-old Irishman gets stuck in regularly, making a staggering 23.45 duels per 90 and winning possession 51.35 per cent of the time.

He also makes 8.24 defensive duels per 90 (57.69-per-cent success rate) and 6.24 aerial duels per 90 (55-per-cent accuracy), putting his foot in more often than Naylor.

Even though he wins the ball less, there is still a strong presence in the Blues’ midfield.

Naylor’s statistics may drop given a larger sample size, which is what happened while at Fratton Park.

In Pompey’s failed promotion bid last season, Naylor won the ball back 57.44 per cent of the time (from 15.82 duels per 90), which was the fourth-highest for midfielders in League One.

His other metrics also regressed, his defensive duels (56.56-per-cent accuracy from 5.58 per 90) and aerial duels (63.33-per-cent accuracy from 4.19 per 90) were all lower than his current statistics.

Individual brilliance in one area can only take a team so far.

The former Burton midfielder’s strengths were well known but Pompey still failed to get over the promotion line.

Head coach Danny Cowley has regularly stressed the ball needs to be driven through the midfield via passing and dribbling to support the forwards.

This is something that both new signings excel at.

Tunnicliffe’s progressive passes have been more accurate (6.49 per 90 with a 75-per-cent success rate), while William’s composure has put him on a platform of his own (averaging 9.51 progressive passes per 90 with 90-per-cent accuracy).

Last season, Naylor averaged 8.09 progressive passes per 90 (with 73.49-per-cent accuracy).

With Tunnicliffe’s attacking contributions so far – one goal and three assists – Pompey’s centre of the pitch is more adept to Cowley’s style of football.

Tunnicliffe’s presence further up the field – taking 1.26 touches in the box per match – and preference to drive play – producing 0.9 progressive runs per 90 – makes up for concessions at the back, and Williams can statistically cover for this weakness.

Naylor doesn’t have that same drive – averaging fewer penalty area touches (0.75) and progressive runs (0.58).

The team is still a working progress and the players are still gelling together.

Cowley has mentioned many of the performances have been incomplete, but he can hang his hat on the new balanced midfield he’s created with Tunnicliffe and Williams at the helm.

- by Freddie Webb