Ask any Leeds United fan, nay any casual observer of football this season and they will tell you that one of the Sky Bet Championship’s stand-out players has been Leeds United’s Swedish defender Pontus Jansson.
He’s been rewarded by an inclusion in the EFL Team of the Season at their recent award ceremony but has been snubbed today by the PFA, the Swede missing out to Newcastle’s Jamaal Lascelles and Brighton’s Lewis Dunk.
Understandably, amongst Leeds United fans any way, this snub has caused a degree of controversy but there is also a growing number of ‘neutrals’ who are rubbing their eyes in disbelief at Pontus Jansson’s omission from the select side. One of these is Mark Douglas, Newcastle united editor for the Chronicle, Journal and Sunday Sun and he has taken to his personal Twitter feed (below) to announce his surprise.
PFA team causing controversy. Well done to Lascelles but #lufc defender Pontus Jansson can feel very hard done by! He was exceptional on Fri
— Mark Douglas (@MsiDouglas) April 20, 2017
Has Pontus Jansson been stiffed? Comparing the Swede to Lascelles and Dunk.
It’s going to be a mish-mash of ‘total stats over the season’ and ‘per typical 90 minute stats’ that I will use to compare the three and see if, as gathering noise suggests, Pontus Jansson has been robbed of a place in the PFA team. The use of the ‘per 90’ measure allows comparison of players who have made different appearances across a season and gives a better, fairer indication of expected performance across a typical 90 minute game.
Tackles: Jansson 32, Lascelles 22, Dunk 40
These are all ‘completed tackles’ across the whole of the season for all three players and show Lewis Dunk as leading with 40 tackles. But Dunk has played more games than Jansson (32) but less than Lascelles (42), so you are not really going to get a decent comparison here. It is better to look at a ‘per typical 90’ measure so that you can get a better idea of what each player’s likely output is over the course of a typical 90 minute game. If you do this, Dunk still leads with 1.16 tackles, from Jansson with 1.02 tackles and Lascelles with just 0.55 tackles.
Winner Lewis Dunk (Brighton), 2nd Pontus Jansson (Leeds), third Jamaal Lascelles (Newcastle)
Aerial Duels Won: Jansson 104, Lascelles 160, Dunk 139
This measures just how effective that they’ve been in the air when battling with opponents, and it shows Newcastle United’s Jamaal Lascelles way out in front with 160 headed balls won, more than Dunk (139) and Jansson (104) have managed. Again, splitting it into a per 90 measure and you get the following returns: Dunk 4.02 won headed balls, Lascelles 4.01 won headed balls, Jansson 3.31 won headed balls.
Winner Lewis Dunk (Brighton), 2nd Jamaal Lascelles (Newcastle), 3rd Pontus Jansson (Leeds)
Defensive Interceptions: Jansson 55, Lascelles 51, Dunk 118
Lewis Dunk (118) simply storms this category, making more interceptions of opponent ball than BOTH Pontus Jansson (55) and Jamaal Lascelles (51) combines. Splitting it into a per 90 measure gives the following returns: Dunk 3.41 interceptions, Jansson 1.75 interceptions, Lascelles 1.28 interceptions.
Winner Lewis Dunk (Brighton), 2nd Pontus Jansson (Leeds), 3rd Jamaal Lascelles (Newcastle)
Defensive Blocks: Jansson 41, Lascelles 19, Dunk 38
Blocking opponent shots, passes and crosses has been a strength of Pontus Jansson this season for Leeds United. His total blocks this season (41) nudge him ahead of Lewis Dunk (38) and significantly ahead of Jamaal Lascelles (19). If you split it down to a typical per 90 performance, the following are displayed: Jansson 1.30 blocks, Lascelles 0.48 blocks, Dunk 1.10 blocks.
Winner Pontus Jansson, 2nd Lewis Dunk, 3rd Jamaal Lascelles
Defensive Clearances: Jansson 327, Lascelles 372, Dunk 274
Jamaal Lascelles (327) comes out on top in the total number of defensive clearances made over the season, beating Pontus Jansson (327) into second place and Lewis Dunk (274) into third. Taking what you could expect over a typical 90 minutes gives the following returns: Jansson 10.39 clearances, Lascelles 9.33 clearances, Dunk 7.93 clearances.
Winner Pontus Jansson, 2nd Jamaal Lascelles, 3rd Lewis Dunk
So, has Jansson been stiffed?
If you are judging a player for inclusion in a select, end-of-season side, then you can only really judge them on performances, the above are a total of those performances. Of course in isolation they mean little, for example there are other players around them who contribute also. But in isolation they have been chosen for inclusion into the PFA side so it makes sense to judge them side-by-side in comparison.
Any decision is going to be arbitrary and argued over as is my final scoring system of: winner 3pts, 2nd 2 pts and 3rd 1 point.
Here’s how that all adds up
- Lewis Dunk 12 points
- Pontus Jansson 11 points
- Jamaal Lascelles 7 points
Has Pontus Jansson been stiffed by the PFA – it appears that way.