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Albion Analytics: 100 PL appearances for Shane Duffy

The defender reached the century mark for Albion in the 2-2 draw at Liverpool.

By Liam Tharme • 04 November 2021

By Paul Hazlewood
Shane Duffy joined Albion in 2016 from Blackburn Rovers.

The Irishman brought up a ton of Premier League appearances for the Seagulls on Saturday at Anfield, joining Lewis Dunk, Pascal Gross and Solly March on the list of Albion players to have achieved this feat.

Duffy is renowned for his immense box-defending ability, perhaps best demonstrated through his tackles plus interceptions and opposition shots blocked totals being superior to his final third progression tally, across his 100 top-flight outings in Albion colours.

The 49-cap international topped the Premier League charts in the 2017/18 (368) and 2018/19 seasons (312) for clearances, while ranking inside the top ten players for three successive seasons (2017/18 โ€“ 2019/20) for aerial duel win rate, winning at least 74% of his duels in each of those seasons.

Thus far this Premier League season, only four players have won more aerial duels than Duffy (44), who has proved to be a serious aerial threat in both boxes, with a league-high 12 headed shots; his per-game average of 1.6 shots is only bettered by Leandro Trossard, Alexis Mac Allister and Neal Maupay for Brighton this season.

That said, the defender has netted a Premier League goal for Brighton with his head, right foot and left-foot. His five goals in the 2018/19 campaign were a league-high among all Premier League central defenders.

SofaScores algorithm has his best ever Premier League game for Brighton as the 2-2 draw at Southampton at the start of that immense goalscoring campaign; it was Duffy who halved the arrears with a headed goal via an Anthony Knockaert free-kick, and the Irishman was fouled for the penalty. Across the 90 minutes, Duffy recorded eight clearances (one off the line), blocked two shots, won two and conceded zero fouls, completed 10/16 long passes and won 8/9 aerial duels and 4/4 ground duels.

This Premier League season, Duffy ranks inside the top 25% of Premier League central defenders for aerial duel win rate (73.3%), shots (1.56) and goals (0.11) per game, long pass completion (76.5%) and opposition shots blocked per game (1.22). Among Albion players, the number 24 takes top spot for aerial duels engaged in (60) and won (44), second to only Adam Webster (77% win rate) for the proportion of duels won (73.3%).

Only his central defensive partner Lewis Dunk has attempted and completed more passes than Duffy (441/498 passes completed), with the Irishman second to only Leandro Trossard for the proportion of long passes he completes. Defensively, he has the most blocks (20) of opposition shots/passes, and has made a whopping 54 clearances, 18 clear of second place Dunk; almost 30% of Brightonโ€™s total clearances this season have been made by Shane Duffy.

Of course, it would be remiss to not acknowledge the spell Duffy had out of the side, but the numbers clearly indicate that he has returned better than ever. His overall pass accuracy is almost 5% better than in the 19/20 season, and for long passes this is over 6% better, and it is interesting to note that his ratio of short to long passes has dipped continuously across his Premier League career.

Notably, he is now playing passes under pressure at the lowest rate ever (per match) in his Premier League career โ€“ fewer than 8% of his open-play passes have been under pressure this season, around half of what it was in each of his previous three Premier League campaigns; clearly Duffy is now more suited to the system, and the system is more suited to Duffy.