Albion Analytics: Shane Duffy

The Irishman's defensive stats make for impressive reading, having made his 150th appearance for Albion last week.

By Liam Tharme • 21 March 2022

By Paul Hazlewood
Shane Duffy has made 150 appearances for Albion in all competitions.

Shane Duffy brought up a century and a half worth of Albion appearances in all competitions when he started in the last week's match against Spurs.

Among the current Brighton squad, only Lewis Dunk (365), Solly March (229) and Pascal Gross (161) have more appearances for the club in all competitions. Duffy’s 150 appearances have come stretched across four competitions in total (Premier League, League Cup, FA Cup, Championship), and he has played over twice as many times for Albion as any other club (second most is 69 for Blackburn).

Tracking his career evolution, Duffy is head and shoulders above most players aerially. In all four of his Premier League seasons (74,3% in 2017/18, 77.7% in 2018/19, 78.8% in 2019/20 and 77.9% 2021/22) he has ranked among the top 10 most successful aerial duellers in the league, in terms of win percentage. That aerial prowess is not only defensive either, as Understat have it that 74 of Duffy’s 94 Premier League shots have been headers, and WhoScored has the Irishman third among Premier League centre-backs this season for headed shots (17), only bettered by Liverpool duo Joel Matip (22) and Virgil van Dijk (19).

In consecutive Premier League seasons (2017/18 and 2018/19) he topped the Premier League charts for clearances, recording 368 and 298 respectively, though has since shown immense ability to transition to Potter’s possession-based style.

This season is Duffy’s best for Brighton in the Premier League in terms of touches per game (75), passes attempted (63), passes completed (56) and pass completion rate (88%). The Irishman’s long pass frequency (14.8 per game) and accuracy (76%) are also personal bests, and given this improvement he is now moving the ball – on average – almost four full lengths of the Amex pitch per game through dribbles and forward passes (449 yards total, over 100 yards more than his previous best in any Premier League season).

Ranked among Premier League central defenders this season, Duffy ranks inside the top 5% for shots, aerials won, and aerial win percentage. Brighton’s number 24 ranks inside the top 20% for passes attempted/completed, touches, passes received and pass completion rate.

While team play style and the opportunities it offers in/out-of-possession has to be considered, it is certainly impressive to see the improvement for Duffy – he ranked at or below the Premier League average (50%) for passes attempted, completed and pass accuracy in the 2019/20 season.

And the defender has by no means lost his ability to defend the penalty area – Duffy ranks inside the top third of Premier League defenders this season for total blocks, opposition shots blocked and clearances – only Lewis Dunk (20) has blocked more than Duffy (19), but the Irishman tops the Albion charts for clearances (91) and has the most touches in the opposition box (26) of any Brighton central defender this season.

This season, SofaScore rate Duffy’s best two games as the first two games of the season – across those fixtures he recorded 154 touches, completed 114/121 passes, cleared the ball 19 times, recovered the ball 16 times and won 15/23 aerial duels.