Mike van der Hoorn: Analysing the early impact made by the Swansea City defender

We take a look at Mike van der Hoorn's great start to the season
We take a look at Mike van der Hoorn's great start to the season

Swansea have enjoyed an excellent start to the Sky Bet Championship season and sit top of the table at the first international break.

Steve Cooper's side are yet to be beaten with five wins from six, scoring 12 and conceding just four to demonstrate their promotion credentials at the earliest stage.

The impact of Borja Baston has grabbed most of the headlines. Baston wasn't originally a part of Swansea's plans, but he has stayed and hit the ground running with five goals putting him in joint-first in the goalscoring charts.

Baston's impact up front shouldn't be underestimated. His goals could be the difference between a promotion push and missing out on the top-six and the Swans faithful will be hopeful his form extends to Christmas and beyond.

At the other end of the pitch, though, Mike van der Hoorn has followed up a strong campaign in 2018/19 with an even better start to this one.

The centre-back has made his presence known and there's little doubt that van der Hoorn is currently performing as the best defender in the division.

Tom Carnduff takes a look at his success.


The statistics behind the start

Mike van der Hoorn scores against Hull
Mike van der Hoorn scores against Hull

2018/19

  • Matches played: 46
  • Goals: 3
  • Accurate passes: 86%
  • Accurate passes (own half): 92%
  • Clean sheets: 13
  • Successful dribbles: 82%
  • Ground duels won: 67.5%
  • Aerial duels won: 64.8%

2019/20

  • Matches played: 6
  • Goals: 1
  • Accurate passes: 86%
  • Accurate passes (own half): 92%
  • Clean sheets: 3
  • Successful dribbles: 100%
  • Ground duels won: 83.3%
  • Aerial duels won: 82.8%

The stats during the 2018/19 season are very much reflective of a centre-back playing in Graham Potter's system. Strong ability on the ball was required alongside defensive security and van der Hoorn delivered.

A point of interest is the fact that van der Hoorn's accurate passes, alongside accurate passes in his own half, current register at exactly the same level as last season. He's managed to carry that ability on the ball into the new campaign and it's clear that despite the change in manager, he is expected to contribute in similar fashion.

His confidence on the ball his also demonstrated by his perfect record when dribbling. Not only is van der Hoorn finding teammates with the majority of his passes, he's also carrying the ball out of the back and helping to create attacks.

He's improved defensively, albeit we have to acknowledge that we're looking at a small sample size. Opposition forwards are finding it much tougher to get the better of van der Hoorn and that is why, in part, the Swans have conceded just four.

There's a steep rise in the percentage of aerial duels that have been successful, from 64.8% in 2018/19 to 82.8% during the current season.

The same trend can be seen in the number of ground duels won. This season's figure stands at 83.3% - one of the highest returns among those selected regularly in the Championship.


How does he compare to the rest of the league?

Mike van der Hoorn has a high accurate passing figure
Mike van der Hoorn has a high accurate passing figure

In total, there have been 48 defenders in the division who have featured in all six games and among them, van der Hoorn's figures stack up well alongside all of the other 47.

  • Tackles - 3 (41/48)

A low number but in this case that is a positive. Just three tackles in six games underlines his style of play and his reluctance to dive in to try and win the ball. Above all it demonstrates composure and correct positioning.

  • Total duels won - 83% (1/48)

No other regular defender has won more duels than van der Hoorn. His 83% is clear of Nottingham Forest's Joe Worrall in second with 79% - that's made even more impressive by the fact that the Swans' man has participated in seven more duels.

  • Accurate opposition half passes - 102 (7/48)

Another high statistic is the number of accurate passes in the opposition half. Only six players in the Championship have seen better numbers in this area. 27% of all of van der Hoorn's passes this season have come in the other half of the pitch, not only highlighting Swansea's intent on attack but his suitability to that style.

  • Successful dribbles - 5 (7/48)

Much like the accurate passing figures, averaging near to one successful dribble per game. Again, only six players can boast better returns in this area but five of those have not been playing as a centre-back week in, week out.


Smells like team spirit

Swansea celebrate their winner against Leeds
Swansea celebrate their winner against Leeds

"The team spirit has been the key factor to our fantastic start," van der Hoorn told Swansea's club website after the win against Leeds.

"If we didn’t have that then we would have collapsed at Leeds because they created a lot of chances.

"We just stuck together and got our reward. The subs came off the bench and made a difference because they brought a lot of positive energy to the side."

Their efforts have seen the Swans backed into 10/1 to win the Sky Bet Championship title this season, with some fancying them to continue their fine start to the campaign.

They are also now available at 13/8 to score 70+ league goals - with 12 already on their tally - while 75+ points is also priced at 13/8.


Odds correct at 1055 BST (03/09/19)

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