John Obi Mikel – How does he compare with our other midfielders?

‘Serial Winner’ John Obi Mikel has joined Boro in one of the most surprising signings of recent years.

Mikel has won just about everything there is to win with Chelsea but has most recently been playing in China.

How do his 2018 stats (according to compare to Boro’s current crop of midfielders and what will he add to the mix?

Tackles per game

  1. Adam Clayton 2 (69% success rate)
  2. Lewis Wing 1.9 (66% success rate)
  3. Mo Besic 1.8 (64% success rate)
  4. John Obi Mikel 1.5 (65% success rate)

Mikel doesn’t attempt or win as many tackles as tackling machine Adam Clayton, but he’s not far off.

His career average is 1.8 per game, so perhaps being in a more competitive league will bring this side of his game out a bit more. But all in all the stats suggest that he is not there just for his defensive work.

Interceptions per game

  1. Clayton 1.7
  2. Mikel 0.7
  3. Saville 0.6
  4. Besic 0.6

Again, Clayton stands out in this area. But during his Chelsea days Mikel’s stats were often above two per game, so this might be something Pulis is looking at.

If he can cut out the ball further up the pitch, he might be able to spark attacks and catch out opposition defences.

Successful dribbles per game

  1. Mikel – 2 (91% success rate)
  2. Besic – 1.4 (58%)
  3. Howson – 1.1 (58%)
  4. Clayton – 0.6 (67%)

Maybe this is the key to what Mikel will bring to the team. His dribble success rate is miles above the rest of the midfielders.

His superior technique, strength and composure will allow him to hold on to the ball for longer and allow others to get forward so he can pick out the right pass.

When you watch Boro this is clearly a weakness – with players either panicking into long passes or being dispossessed. Mikel’s experience and calm head in these situations could be invaluable to the team for the remainder of the season.

Pass success rate

  1. Besic – 87% (90% short passes, 70% long balls)
  2. Mikel 83% (87% short, 51% long)
  3. Clayton 82% (88% short, 55% long)
  4. Saville 78% (80% short, 47% long)

Mikel’s overall pass success rate is very good, although less than Besic. Mikel plays a lot more short passes than Boro’s midfielders but this could be more to do with the team’s tactics and style.

With his dribbling and short passing skills, Mikel’s role in the team could be to carry the ball from deep and lay off to more creative teammates (if we have any).

I could see Mikel sitting alongside Clayton in a 4-2-3-1 with Van La Parra, Downing and Wing in the advanced roles. Sexy stuff.

Key passes per game

  1. Howson – 1.7
  2. Besic – 1.3
  3. Mikel – 1.1
  4. Wing – 1

This is not typically one of Mikel’s strengths, but this year has been one of his best years.

He often plays in a more advanced role for Nigeria, and he has typically created more chances than at club level.

I doubt Pulis will use him in an advanced position, but rather his ability to run from deep will allow others such as Howson and Wing to create more chances.

Total goals

    =1. Besic, Mikel, Saville – 2 each

  1. Wing – 1

Goals are clearly not Mikel’s strong point, but that means he’ll fit right into Boro’s midfield. He has two this season but this is the first time he has ever scored more than one league goal in a season.

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