Intelligent & Dominant: Why Hull’s Defensive Rock Is One Of The PL’s Unsung Heroes

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There are certain players we often assume are conning a living by playing in the Premier League, but these opinions are often made on first impressions or minimal analysis.

Over the years names like Robbie Savage, Massimo Taibi, Igor Stepanovs and Jermaine Pennant have rolled off the tongue as we mention those we often consider lucky to be playing a the top level with seemingly little ability. The fact is though more often than not some players like the aforementioned quartet, fall into the “sub-standard” bracket due to being less than likeable or something of unsung heroes. Let’s not forget even current England internationals such as Michael Carrick and Gareth Barry have been labelled “below average” usually by opposing fans who don’t appreciate the less glamorous jobs they do with aplomb.

Steve Bruce has more or less assembled a team of underrated misfits to help try and keep Hull City in the Premier League, a plan which as the Tigers sit in the dizzy heights of mid-table security seems to be working. While players such as Tom Huddlestone, Robbie Brady and Nikica Jelavic may not be the first names many fans wanted to see at their clubs,like their team-mates, they’ve all done an important job of maintaining what has been a successful campaign so far for the Tigers.

One player who has been a rock for Hull throughout the season is Curtis Davies. While the ex-Aston Villa man may fall into the unappreciated category by most supporters, those who follow Hull will be more than happy with the job he’s doing. Furthermore, he perhaps should have been considered for the recent England squad.

The defender has missed just one of the Tiger’s league games this season being present for all of their eight wins and six draws during the campaign. Davies has become an integral part of the side during their bid for survival and while it’s far too early to say they’re looking safe, sitting in eleventh place things could certainly be a lot worse for the newly promoted outfit.

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Curtis Davies Performance Score Graph

We only have to cast an eye over Davies’ Performance Score chart for the season to realise that he’s been one of the stellar performers not just for Hull but for any club in the bottom half of the table. Furthermore, if we look at the raw statistics, we can see how Davies has been one of the Premier League’s leading defenders.

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Defenders Who Have Won The Most Headed Duels This Term
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Firstly, the centre-back has won the most headed duels this season (a staggering 106), winning more than other England defender. This indicates as to how dominant the Hull star is, the implications of this is two-fold. The first point is that he can deal with the Premier League’s most awkward and imposing strikers, while the second point is that the defender can also pose a threat when Hull are attacking set-pieces, therefore meaning he can be a secret weapon in attacks.

In terms of tackles won, again, Davies is one of the Premier League’s leading lights. The defender has won an impressive 45 tackles, with a success rate of 57%. To put this into context he has won the tenth highest for a defender in the Premier League, which is more than the likes of Kyle Walker (43), Phil Jagielka  (32) and Phil Jones (31).

Tackles won and headed duels suggests that Davies is a mere physical presence who uses his body to get the most of his opposition, but this is not completely the case, there is far more in his locker. The defender has made a stunning 73 interceptions, which is the third highest in the Premier League, behind the Mile Jedinak (92) and Yousuf Mulumbu (82). This demonstrates that Davies is incredibly intelligent too and can be trusted to read the game effectively to snuffle out attacks.

The former Birmingham and Aston Villa man may not get the plaudits from fans of other clubs, or even some of the so-called ‘experts’ but ask any Hull City fan and they’ll tell you the defender has been one of the real unsung heroes of the Premier League this season. Furthermore, looking at the statistics, Davies will feel harshly done by not be considered in Roy Hodgson’s latest England squad. After all, Davies has proven he has a number of his tools in his locker. He can read the game well and can be trusted to use physical presence to silence the Premier League’s most deadliest attackers.

Justin Mottershead
Justin is a freelance radio reporter covering the North West of England. A season ticket holder at Old Trafford Justin's edited and written for various United sites over the years, including Red Flag Flying High and Pride of all Europe.
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