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Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Michu's Got Talent but Britton's Got The X-Factor

I've been meaning to write this post for a while but the news the Leon has signed a new contract taking him up to 2016 makes it more relevant.

Although most of the press this season has been around '£2m Michu', Leon is a player who is vital to the team but who (outside of Swansea at least) doesn't get as much praise as deserved.

Looking at the great videos put together by Dan Edwards for SCFC2, you can easily see how Michu has become so celebrated this season.
When you watch the video for Leon, it's far harder to pin down what it is that's so great. That's not a criticism of Dan's editing just that the things Leon does well, such as anticipating play so he's in the right position don't make as spectacular a showreel as Michu's.
Since challenging with Xavi last season as the most accurate passer in Europe, Britton has slipped slightly to 21st in Europe for pass completion (from Whoscored.com) with 'only' 91.3% as Swansea are less concerned with possession at all costs compared to last season (Ki is in 11th with 92.2%).

He's also only had 8 shots in the league this season, although that's double his total for last season but has yet to score in the Premier League or provide an assist.

0 Goals, 0 Assists yet he's an absolutely vital part of the team. The chalkboards from the last game against West Ham show how he keeps things ticking over, the passes received in particular don't look spectacular but it takes a real appreciation of what's going on around him to make himself an easy out ball for a team-mate.
Chalkboards of Passes made (left) and received (Right) v West Ham
Putting someone as small as Leon on the post at corners at first seems an odd choice, but he has more clearances off the line (4) than any other player in the league and at least some of that must be down to his ability to read a game and not just the ball bouncing off him (for now I'll ignore what that might say about our set piece defending).

There have been numerous other players who have put in great performances this season, but for me Leon is Mr Consistent.

Match Stats and Chalkboards: Created using Statszone / EPL Index