After a recent slump in form, Stoke City have tried to revitalize their campaign in the EFL Championship. A recent win over Blackpool away from home have seen them crawl up the table again, and they find themselves in the sixth position in the league.
With 21 goals scored, they have one of the best attacks in the division. They have some extremely talented players among their ranks and one of them is the 29-year-old English defender, Thomas Smith.
Smith has registered himself as the best wing-back in the division and has been the most creative and effective among all defenders while going forward. He has registered four assists so far, the highest among all defenders and also the joint-most in his team.
We look at his stats from this season.
Smith has featured in 13 games out of 16 so far for the Potters as their right wing-back in their 3-5-2 system. The above viz shows the amount of work rate he has shown while covering a huge space on the right flank, from his penalty box to the opposite corner flag. He has spent most of his time in the opposition’s half, hugging the touchline, being the primary source of width on that flank for Stoke City. While defending in his half, he has stationed himself mostly near the centre and defensive midfield, trying to win the balls higher up the pitch.
The wing-back has played a total of 465 passes, averaging 37 passes per 90 along with 58 touches on the ball. The majority of his passes have been in a forward progressive manner, which gives us a very clear idea of his attacking mindset. Smith has recorded a passing accuracy of 75%, and most of his passes have been near the final third. He has played long cross-field balls very often to change the direction of attack and found players in space on the opposite flank. The Englishman has delivered a total of 52 crosses so far into the box with xT as high as 0.3240 at times. He has registered a total of four assists so far, and his balls into the box have been real threats for the opposition to deal with. He ranks 99th percentile in the league among all defenders in terms of assists provided per 90. His xA per 90 rank has been 95th percentile in the league which shows his ability to play balls into dangerous areas time and again. Smith has been the most creative full-back in the league, as well ranking 93rd percentile in the league for attempting smart passes per 90, which shows his impeccable vision to pick out players too. Even in terms of crosses delivered and shots assist provided per 90, he ranks in the 95th percentile. Smith has been the best attacking full-back in the division. With eight successful smart passes so far, Smith has been ranked the fifth-best in this metric. He is the only defender who has racked up such numbers among the forwards and midfielders and has been without a doubt the most intelligent and creative. Smith has the fourth most xT created in the league with 5.348 in total and has again clearly been the most threatening among all full-backs.
The wing-back is yet to score a goal in the division, but he has supported the team immensely and has been doing his job efficiently well. At the age of 29, Smith is in the prime of his career, and if Stoke City want to find a way back to the Premier League, his creativity and consistency will play a crucial part in it.