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Overview EFL Championship, which player is the strongest in duels?

Updated: Jun 10, 2021

The EFL Championship has come to an end and now it's time to look back and analyze everything that has happened last season. Which players played their best season and outperformed everyone? In this short article, we will look at who is the most successful in aerial and defensive duels.

As always the most attention goes to the players from the top 5 leagues in Europe, these are the Premier League, Ligue 1, Bundesliga, Serie A, and the Primera División. However, a lot of young talents don't play in the top 5 leagues, which means the players from for example the EFL Championship get overlooked. At FACTS we decided to look at the defensive stats from players in the EFL Championship to see how the players performed and how they compare against the players from the top 5 leagues.


The short look back will start with explaining different types of duels and after we will look at the top 10 most successful players in both categories.



The two different types of duels

Aerial duel

First a short explanation about what an aerial duel is. An aerial duel is when two or more players jump in the air to compete for the ball. The duel is being considered won by the player who touches the ball first or if he gets fouled.


Defensive duel

Secondly, what is a defensive duel? A defensive duel is when a player attempts to dispossess an opposition player to stop an attack from progressing. A duel is successful when the defender dispossesses the attacker, kicks the ball out of play, or when he forces the defender back.


Who wins the most aerial duels?

We will start off by taking a look at which players have won the most aerial duels in the EFL Championship. In the table below we can see that Alex Pearce takes the crown in this statistic, winning 73.60% of his aerial duels. Coming in at fourth place is promising young talent Harry Souttar, winning 71.51% of his aerial duels. If we look at the top 5* of the top 5 leagues the first place goes to Bruno Alves winning 77.61% of his duels and in fifth place, we find Zouma winning 71.77% of his duels. Harry Souttar at fourth place in the Championship would be just outside of the top 5 from the top 5 leagues.

*minimum of 1350 minutes played



Who wins the most defensive duels?

Next up we are taking a look at who scores the best when it comes to defensive duels. Looking at the percentages we can see that it is all very close together with only a 3.5% difference between the first-ranked player and the tenth-ranked player. Coming in at first place is Preston North End player Paul Huntington winning 78.79% of his duels in the 21 matches that he played last season. He is closely followed by Taylor Harwood-Bellis, who is only 19 years old, winning 78.49% of his duels. In seventh place, we find Harry Souttar, winning 76.50% of his duels. Souttar is the only player who scores high in winning aerial and defensive duels, this really shows that Souttar is very strong in his duels by winning most of them.


In the top 5* of the top 5 leagues, Ronald Araújo takes first place winning 79.41% of his duels. In fourth place we find promising young Dutch talent Sven Botman winning 76.24% of his defensive duels. Harry Souttar would be just above him in the top 5 of the top 5 leagues.



*minimum of 1350 minutes played


Key takeaways

By looking at the EFL Championship instead of the top 5 leagues, we were able to spot some young talents that performed exceptionally well last season. Looking back at aerial duels its young talents Sierralta, Souttar, and collins performed better or at the same level as some of the best defenders like Harry Maguire and Gerard Piqué when it comes to winning aerial duels.

When it comes to defensive duels it's young talents Harwood-Bellis, Carter-Vickers, and again Souttar that outperformed almost all defenders from the top 5 leagues. All of these talents won so many of their duels that they would have been inside the top 5 from the top 5 leagues.


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