Cardiff City had a disappointing season in 2021-22 with an 18th-place finish. It came on the back of a good 2020-21 campaign, where they were placed 8th. The Bluebirds’ goal difference fell from +17 in the 20-21 campaign to -18 in the recently concluded 21-22 campaign. Meanwhile, their total ‘points earned’ declined from 68 in the 20-21 season to just 53 in the 21-22 campaign. Without a doubt, Cardiff will need to strengthen their squad ahead of the next season, particularly at the back, as they conceded 68 goals in the 21-22 season. One man who has been linked with a loan move to the Cardiff City stadium for the past few days is Everton defender, Jarrad Branthwaite.
Branthwaite played six matches for Everton in the 2021-22 Premier League season for his 388 minutes of game-time. He scored once during his limited time on the pitch at a rate of 0.21 goals per 90, putting him in the top 2% of defenders. While doing so, Branthwaite overachieved on his xG per 90 of 0.15, which ranked him in the upper 1% among defenders. The youngster, who turned 20 in June, ranked in the top 4% for xG per shot, with 0.24 to his name, He ranked the same for the percentage of shots on target, having hit precisely two-thirds of his attempts on target.
Branthwaite attempted just over 10 defensive actions per 90 and was successful in exactly three-fourths of them. This may have ranked him in the bottom third for the former and bottom quintile for the latter, but one can expect this to rise in the second tier of English Football. The Carlisle-born defender ranked slightly better in defensive duels attempted (5.56 per 90) and win rate of defensive duels (23.08%), but he is still below the median league value in both categories. However, one area where the Englishman is very strong is aerial duels, as he won just under 73% of his aerial duels out of 4.7 aerial battles per 90. Given Branthwaite’s height of 195 cm, this shouldn’t come as a surprise.
Branthwaite was most comfortable winning aerial duels, as seen from the above map, though the centre-half did win a few 50/50s and ground-based duels in his limited game-time. Unsurprisingly, he won the vast majority of his duels in his half. During his time out on the field, Branthwaite attempted 9.53 pressures per 90, 2.56 tackles and interceptions per 90, 1.63 blocks per 90 and 3.72 clearances per 90.
As shown in the above heat map, Branthwaite was most effective and influential in the area between the defensive third and midfield. He completed a total of seven passes into the final third during his limited game-time.
Jarrad Branthwaite has performed decently for Everton whenever he has been out there on the pitch. One can expect his performances to get better if he moves to Cardiff City in the EFL Championship, as they need defenders to stop conceding too many goals. Branthwaite’s physicality will aid the backline of the Bluebirds ahead of the upcoming season as they look to improve on their 18th-place finish.