Stoke City finished the last season in 14th position on the points table. It also happened to be their second consecutive season where they finished in the same spot. The only two differences were that the Potters had two more points last season (62) than in the 20-21 season, and they had a positive goal difference. It is the team’s fourth consecutive season where they finished in the bottom half of the EFL Championship points table. In a bid to challenge for a top-half finish, Stoke City have brought in Arsenal defender, Harry Clarke, on a loan deal to the Bet365 Stadium.
Clarke spent the first half of the 2021-22 season on loan at Ross County in the Scottish Premiership from Arsenal. He made 17 appearances for the team before being recalled by the Gunners. In those 17 matches, he scored three goals at a rate of 0.17 per 90, slightly higher than the xG per 90 of 0.12. He fired off 1.12 shots per 90, putting him in the top 4% among defenders. The Englishman registered 1.5 touches in the attacking penalty area per 90, which ranked him in the top 13%. With nearly 3.2 dribble attempts per 90, he was in the upper 11% for this category. He contested in 5.88 offensive duels per 90 and 6.5 attacking actions per 90.
Clarke registered two assists in addition to scoring thrice, meaning he was involved in a goal every 283 minutes (he played for 1418 minutes). He attempted over 33 passes per 90 at 77.5% accuracy. Of these 33 passes, more than six of them were into the final third per 90. He made 1.78 progressive runs per 90, which comfortably placed him in the upper quartile. With 0.41 smart passes per 90, the Englishman was ranked in the 91st percentile among defenders. He also put himself in the upper third for shot assists per 90 and through balls per 90.
Clarke attempted less than 10 defensive actions per 90 and five defensive duels per 90, which put him in the woeful bottom 9% among defenders. It was not much better in loose ball duels either as he attempted only 2.57 per 90, that put him in the lower 15%. However, the Englishman won more than 58.6% of his aerial duels, attempting 6.2 per 90 on average. This is in spite of him standing at only 180 cm, relatively short for a centre-back. He completed less than five interceptions per 90 and just more than nine recoveries per 90.
Clarke played as a right-back more often than at centre-back despite the latter being his natural position. He won the majority of his duels in the form of aerials, followed by ground-based duels and 50/50s, although the latter two were not as frequent.
Harry Clarke was an important man for Ross County in the first half of the last season as the team finished in the top half of the table. Stoke City will hope for similar performances from him this season as they look to end their string of bottom-half finishes.