After a string of poor results which saw them without a win in eight back-to-back matches, Everton finally displayed resilience in their previous game against Arsenal. In front of a loud and vibrant Goodison crowd, who had been growing increasingly frustrated with their club’s situation on and off the pitch, the 2-1 win, Everton’s first since September, came as temporary albeit necessary relief for Rafa Benitez and his men. As a result, Everton are now placed at the 13th spot in the Premier League with five wins, three draws, and seven losses in 15 matches.
While much of their poor form recently has been attributed to the extensive list of injuries to prominent attacking players, Everton’s defense has also suffered a similar setback. The likes of Yerry Mina and Tom Davies have missed out on a considerable number of games due to injuries, and the available replacements have underperformed. Mina recently has suffered another setback half an hour after making his return to the starting line up against Arsenal and was substituted for Mason Holgate.
With the situation surrounding Lucas Digne’s fallout with Rafa Benitez and Mina reaggravating his injury, the chance for Mason Holgate to make his mark on the starting line-up could appear. Despite showcasing a few glimpses of his ability since making the move to Everton in 2015, the defender has failed to nail his spot in the starting line-up. His 28 appearances in the league last season were the most that he had been afforded in a single season. The centre-back had to constantly fight for a place in Everton’s defense with Keane, Godfrey, and Mina. Mason Holgate.
Holgate himself admitted in an interview in September that he had performed below his standards, a situation he has attributed to being injured and playing in different positions. Although he was confident that he could change the situation this season by performing consistently, things haven’t improved much.
Let’s dive into his stats to gauge if Holgate should be afforded a place in Everton’s starting eleven.
Mason Holgate 20-21 Stats
Although Holgate performed decently during the start of last season, his performances were inconsistent, especially during the end of the season. He was seen caught in possession and made multiple errors directly leading to a goal which indicates his defensive frailties. Despite most of his stats being above the league median value, he had to fight for a place in starting eleven. His most notable stats last season were defensive actions per 90 and defensive duels won.
Holgate’s heat map from last season displays the areas where he had been most active. Under Ancelotti, Holgate was mostly deployed as a right-back in a 4-2-3-1/4-3-3 system or as a left centre-back in a back three system. This highlights that Holgate is versatile and can fill in as a central defender when needed. His heat map indicates that he was reluctant to push forward in the opponent’s half.
Mason Holgate 21-22 Stats
In the current season, Holgate has made a total of five appearances, and two of those appearances have been as a substitute. While most of his defensive stats have been above the league median value, Holgate has been guilty of poor challenges and being caught out of position often. He saw a straight red card in the game against Tottenham for a reckless challenge on Højbjerg and was suspended for the next three games. His most notable stats this season have been aerial duels won and recoveries per 90.
His heat map displays the areas of the pitch where he has been most active. Under Benitez, Holgate has mostly been deployed as a centre-back. It is noteworthy that in Everton’s five wins this season, the centre-back pairing for the majority of the games has been Holgate and Keane.
Mason Holgate has struggled for game time for much of the season although, Everton’s injury crisis could hand him a role in the starting line-up. Amidst the talks of his imminent departure from Goodison Park, the data suggests that Holgate needs to step up if he is secure in his spot in the starting line-up or his future at Everton.