By the end of August, everything seemed to be going well for St Johnstone. Three…
Aberdeen’s 2-0 defeat to Celtic on Sunday was met by all of the usual moans and groans that tend to accompany Derek McInnes’ routine defeats to the Glasgow side. The home support cursed and sighed in familiar fashion, while the travelling fans spent the trip home singing the praises of Scott Brown and Brendan Rodgers. All while the rest of us once again scratched our heads, wondering why the Dons can never get anywhere near the Scottish champions.
Yet one smaller narrative that has gone largely unnoticed is that of Shay Logan. Although the full-back wasn’t at fault for anything in particular and certainly doesn’t deserve any individual blame for what happened on Sunday, the manner in which his form has fallen off the edge of a cliff this season is really quite startling.
Considered by many as one of the best right backs in the Scottish Premiership last season, Logan now looks like a shadow of his former self. And in a sense has come to quietly represent the way McInnes’ team have regressed this season when many had high hopes of them moving forward and getting closer to Celtic.
So what’s up with Logan?
Although Aberdeen’s problems largely lie in their attacking capacity – at least when we compare them to last season’s performances – there are a few lingering faults in defence. For example, McInnes’ side have already conceded 33 goals from 28 games in this current campaign, which is just two less than they conceded over the course of the entire league campaign last season.
Indeed, unless they manage to concede just two goals form their next 10 games then they’ll almost certainly finish this campaign with a poorer record. However, intriguingly, there isn’t much evidence to suggest that Logan has played much of a role in this.
Last season, Logan made 5.91 defensive duels per game, with a success rate of 23.5%. Yet this season he has an almost identical record of 5.84 and at a 26.9% rate. Similarly, he makes 0.58 tackles per game this season – which is identical to last season – while his interceptions are only down slightly from 3.87 to 3.55.
One defensive stat that may suggest Logan has played his part in the porous nature of Aberdeen’s defence is the fact that he loses the ball in his own half 1.57 times a game this season, which is up from 1.39. But in truth, it’s a minimal jump and not nearly enough to say the defensive side of his game has taken a notable nosedive.
However, when we take a look at Logan’s attacking stats we can not only see that they fall in line with the wider squad’s diminishing goal threat but also some stark contrasts to last season’s impressive performances.
Perhaps the most potent side of Logan’s game that has taken a stumble of late is his ability to create goals. Although the fullback is hardly a playmaker, he did tend to set up and create goals on a fairly regular basis for McInnes’ side last season.
Last season the English defender created, on average, 0.09 assists per game which may not seem like the highest number in the world but it is still larger than the 0.06 assists he’s creating this season. Similarly, in terms of key passes, Logan has dropped from 0.47 per game to 0.29 – which means he’s essentially setting his teammates up for shots at nearly half the rate he was last season.
Indeed, when we look a little deeper at Logan’s key pass metrics for this season it really underlines how disappointing he’s been. In total, the 30-year-old has amassed 10 over the course of the season, which as we can see from the graph below puts him line with bit-part players like Scott Wright and Greg Tansey, while Andy Considine and Anthony O’Connor are just one and three off him respectively.
Interestingly, Logan is actually making more “progressive runs” this season compared to last – 0.7 per game compared to 0.58 – and attempting 3.93 offensive duels per game in this campaign compared to last season’s 2.69. However, his success rate at doing so has dropped from 58% to 44.5%. His passes into the opponent’s box have also fallen quite notably from 51.7% last season to 46.5%.
So, if we were to take a step back from the numbers for a moment, there’s basically a fair amount of evidence to suggest that although Logan’s defensive stats haven’t altered all that much, he isn’t creating nearly as many goals for his teammates this time around. And a huge part of that may be the manner in which the accuracy of his passing in these attacking situations has taken a notable dip. Even if he may be trying to get into more positions to make such passes than he did last season.