Analysing Ben Chilwell's breakthrough season

The highly rated Leicester left-back has gained real first team prominence this year.

Analysing Ben Chilwell's breakthrough season
Chilwell enjoying his breakthrough season under Claude Puel (photo: Getty Images / Michael Regan)

Ben Chilwell has enjoyed what could arguably be described as his “breakthrough” season under manager Claude Puel.

The 21-year-old has been involved in 23 appearances in the Premier League this season, 19 of those being starts.

This good run of game time has seen him become Puel’s first choice left back over Austrian team-mate Christian Fuchs, who has offered nothing but advice and encouragement to the England Under-21 international. A pivotal part of the infamous title-winning side of 2015/16, the advice and experience a player of Fuchs’ caliber and career possess could prove to be quite beneficial to a player who has his whole career ahead of him.

Of his 23 appearances during the 2017/18 season so far, Chilwell has created an impressive 19 goal-scoring chances, two of which have led to goals scored. His figure of 19 chances created ranks him as Leicester’s fifth most creative player so far in the campaign, only Riyad Mahrez (48), Marc Albrighton (45), Jamie Vardy (26) and fellow youth international Demarai Gray (22) have created more than the attacking left back. His desire to get forward has seen him become a valuable outlet when Leicester go forward on the attack, adding more danger to an already threatening Foxes attacking force.

One aspect that Claude Puel is trying to change is that of his team’s style of play. Previous seasons playing styles adopted by Leicester City can be described as very robust or “in your face” – not giving the opposition an inch and trying to break on the counter attack at any given chance. Puel has slowly introduced a system which relies more on keeping possession and moving the ball around until a chance presents itself, this has been evident to see since the Frenchman took over from Craig Shakespeare back in the end of October 2017.

This more possession – orientated style of play has seen Chilwell obtain an average pass accuracy of 73%, which surprisingly puts him towards the lower end of the pile compared to his team-mates. This is most likely the result of all the attempted crosses and chance-creating passes he has attempted as even Marc Albrighton only averages a 68% pass accuracy but, as previously mentioned, has created an impressive 45 chances. With this in mind, Chilwell has completed 78 crosses as well as 24 accurate long balls this season backing up the point that his accuracy will be lower than a player who plays more basic passes such as Wes Morgan or Vincente Iborra.

Get you a left-back that can do both

On the defensive and physical side of his game, the young full back is tied for fifth with an average duels won percentage with 56% compared to the rest of his team-mates respectfully. He has won 66 of his 122 headed duels this season, giving him a 54% win rate.

His attacking play has also seen him complete 31 of his attempted 48 take-ons, giving the full back a respectful 65% take-on success rate. In terms of a fouls to fouled ratio, Chilwell has been fouled 21 times and committed 13 fouls – yet another positive stat for the youngster. The full back also sits at fourth on the list of highest defensive contributions per game with four – only Harry Maguire, Alexsander Dragovic, Danny Simpson, (all tied at first with seven defensive contributions per game) Wes Morgan, Christian Fuchs, (tied in second with six) along with Wilfred Ndidi and Vincente Iborra (tied for third with five) average more defensive actions when on the pitch.

However, there are areas for the youngster to improve upon. Ill-discipline is not usually associated with a player like Chilwell as it is not in his nature, but he is one of two players to see red this season during a match against Chelsea earlier in the season after two bookings for late challenges. Having committed three defensive errors this season, two of which leading to chances and one leading to a goal, improved concentration in this area will help Chilwell develop and grow as a player.

Lastly, although more distribution / chance creation emphasis is placed on attacking full-backs (areas in which Chilwell thrives), his shot accuracy could also use work as of his four attempts on goal – one has been on target whilst the other three have been off target. This is not a crucial aspect but given his striking ability he has the ability to be a goal threat from shots on goal.