It is a mark of the progress Aaron Wan-Bissaka has made as part of Crystal Palace’s first-team that his performance at home to Wolves last weekend has been viewed as one of his weaker outings since the season began back in August.
The right-back may have been thrown in at the deep end towards the end of the last campaign but after passing numerous tests against the Premier League’s “big six” with startling poise, he’s made the right-back’s slot his own, leaving Joel Ward as a willing deputy. With that in mind, many were no doubt expecting another imperious display at home to Wolves and despite some truly outrageous numbers in his favour against Nuno Espírito Santo’s men, he came out of the tie with a fair few fans questioning his ball retention.
I personally felt as though the 20-year-old did remarkably well from a defensive standpoint; an opinion backed up by the statistics on the day. He attempted a mammoth seven tackles and won every single one of them, the next best in either side were Boly and Jota for the visitors with four apiece. He also completed six clearances, once again outdoing anyone else on the field, with Ryan Bennett next in line on five; before throwing in one interception for good measure.
Sadly, his pass completion rate explains why some supporters were a tad disappointed, with just 35 of 48 attempted passes finding their intended man; all of which led to us losing the ball regularly inside our own half. Indeed, Aaron’s pass percentage was the second worst of any Palace starter (Jeffrey Schlupp was just below him) but overall, I’m finding it difficult to be angry after such a ridiculous display of tackling from the full-back.
It’s easy to become accustomed to such impressive defensive performances when you see them so regularly but it’s worth mentioning that no out-and-out Premier League defender is even close to Wan-Bissaka’s total of 32 tackles so far this season, with Southampton’s Wesley Hoedt his closest rival on 20. In fact, Everton’s Idrissa Gueye is the only man in the division above him on 37, with Aaron having played fewer minutes (615) than anyone else in the top 10.
Yes, his passing was a tad off on Saturday but don’t let that distract you from the outrageous talent we have on our hands. Groomed in the Palace academy and under a long-term contract, if that’s the worst we’re likely to see of Wan-Bissaka, the future looks incredibly bright.