Comparing Premier League defenders by how many times they're dribbled past

  • Kobe Tong

The Premier League season is still young, but the notorious ‘dribbled past’ statistic has already been doing the rounds.

It’s a dataset which spent many a year sat quietly in Opta spreadsheets, but none other than Virgil van Dijk has made it a real topic of focus since his move to Liverpool.

That’s because the Dutchman astonishingly went the entirety of the 2018-19 season without being dribbled past in club football. Pretty impressive stuff for 50 appearances.

However, Van Dijk’s run of impregnability has come to an end this season and Gabriel Jesus was the first to break through the armour during the Community Shield.

It was then confirmed that Jesus’ sprint didn’t count towards Van Dijk’s run, but new Arsenal signing Nicolas Pepe quickly saw to that at the weekend with an impressive passage of play.

Van Dijk’s incredible streak

As a result, an astonishing streak of 50 games was cut off, making Pepe the first player since Mikel Merino – who succeeded in March 2018 – to surpass the Dutch juggernaut.

And greater awareness of this statistic has inevitably drawn comparisons, especially when Harry Maguire was dribbled past just two games into his career as the world’s most expensive defender.

But just how impressive is 50 games without being dribbled past? We know it’s certainly no small feat, yet there is little publicity as to how often Premier League defenders are left in dust.

Most dribbled past defenders

Bearing that in mind, we decided to rank the entire Premier League on by their ‘dribbled past per game’ statistics and honed in on defenders in particular.

It threw up some interesting results to say the very least and Andrew Robertson is the headline act for all the wrong reasons with an average of being beaten 2.3 times per game.

However, the true wooden spoon goes to the King Power Stadium and the regularly beaten Ricardo Pereira. Check out the full statistics down below: 

1. Ricardo Pereira (Leicester City) – 3.0

2. Andrew Robertson (Liverpool) – 2.3

3. Erik Pieters (Burnley) – 2.0

=4. Kiko Femenia (Watford) – 1.7

=4. Jonny (Wolverhampton Wanderers) – 1.7

6. Emil Krafth (Newcastle United) – 1.5

=7. Fabian Schar (Newcastle United) – 1.3

=7. Grant Hanley (Norwich City) – 1.3

=7. Jannik Vestergaard (Southampton) – 1.3

=7. Kyle Walker-Peters (Tottenham Hotspur) – 1.3

=7. Oleksandr Zinchenko (Manchester City) – 1.3

=7. Ryan Fredericks (West Ham United) – 1.3

=7. Shane Duffy (Brighton & Hove Albion) – 1.3

=14. Aaron Wan-Bissaka (Manchester United) – 1.0

=14. Ainsley Maitland-Niles (Arsenal) – 1.0

=14. Caglar Soyuncu (Leicester City) – 1.0

=14. Craig Cathcart (Watford) -1.0

=14. David Luiz (Arsenal) – 1.0

=14. Trent Alexander-Arnold – 1.0

We must disclaim that a few more players currently have an average of 1.0 per game and, with the season just three games old, many of the defenders are bunched together at this stage.

However, considering Van Dijk’s number remained a big fat zero for well over a year, the fact some defenders are beaten three times every game is credit to his remarkable streak. 

It’s interesting that full-backs are perhaps the most regularly beaten, likely down to their swashbuckling runs up the pitch, but there are still plenty of central defenders present.

If nothing else, though, let it prove that the infamous Van Dijk statistic is truly nothing to be sniffed at.

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