Queens Park Rangers (QPR) will be disappointed by the way they finished the 2021-22 EFL Championship campaign as they won only four of the last 18 games. This bad run of form saw them go from a potential promotion playoff spot to mid-table mediocrity. To hope for a stronger promotion challenge next term, QPR will have to strengthen their squad. Fortunately, they have already made their first signing of the season in the form of Jake Clarke-Salter. Clarke-Salter joins the team on a free transfer from West London rivals, Chelsea. In this article, we will take a look at what the 24-year-old might bring to the QPR backline.
Clarke-Salter spent the 2021-22 season on loan at Coventry City from Chelsea. The Englishman made 29 appearances, of which 27 were starts, playing for 2,291 minutes. The centre-back failed to score a goal or provide an assist while he was out there on the pitch. This showed that Clarke-Salter was willing to defend first for his team rather than be a ball-playing centre-back who would launch attacks from the back. As a left-sided centre-back, he was mostly active in the defensive third, the left centre, and the left flank of the football field.
In the above viz, we can see Clarke-Salter’s locations of his winning duels. Most of them were aerial duels and ground-based defending duels; he won far fewer 50/50s. The area of the pitch where the Englishman won the majority of his aerial duels was in his half between his team’s penalty box and midfield. The 24-year-old also won a few aerial duels in the opposition’s penalty area, mostly from dead-ball situations.
The above viz shows the xT map, xT timeline and pass sonar of Clarke-Salter for Coventry City in the 2021-22 EFL Championship. The Englishman’s average xT score hovered around the 0.4 mark and occasionally exceeded 1.0. The majority of the threat generated by Clarke-Salter came from long balls completed and balls into the attacking third.
Towards the end of the season, QPR kept only two clean sheets in the last 18 games of the season. The arrival of Clarke-Salter will be the much-needed defensive bolster that the West London club need to finish higher up the table. One can only hope that QPR do not go on a protracted bad run of form next campaign.