Holden Proves He’s No Wilting Flower

west ham's mark noble battles with bolton's stuart holden FA Barclays Premiership. West Ham United v Bolton Wanderers. 21.08.10 Photo By Karl Winter Fotosports International Photo via Newscom

Bolton Wanderers have long been known as devotees of clichéd English football: huff the ball up the field to a waiting bruiser and pray for good results. When Owen Coyle took over as manager last year, he attempted a cultural sea change, hoping to bring more sophistication to the attack.  How ironic that as the team garners praise for a more fluid offense, center midfielder Stuart Holden is becoming a bit of a hard man.

Through the season’s first seven matches, Holden – ostensibly the more attack-minded member of Bolton’s central midfield duo – had engaged in more tackles than any other player in the Premier League. After today’s 2-1 victory over Stoke City, Holden may hold on to the top spot for one more week, as during the match he took part in more challenges than all but two other participants. Below are his tackling and passing statistics.

by Guardian Chalkboards

While Holden won fewer tackles today than is his custom (he’s won 64% on the year), his ten challenges were the most he had attempted outside of an Arsenal match in which his team played with 10 men. What’s been particularly impressive about his performance this season is that he’s managed to managed to maintain a high level of passing accuracy even as he becomes known for never shying from contact. The above chart shows Holden misfiring on 7 passes against Stoke, but four of them were off corners or free kicks (his poor set piece deliveries were the only demerit on his play today). If those failures were removed from the diagram, it would be easier to see that he only had three unsuccessful passes during the run of play, an 89% completion rate.

In a week that saw the US National Team field three holding midfielders simultaneously, the team’s best attacking midfielder continues to prove he has steel to accompany his silk. Maybe Holden’s trying to show Bob Bradley that he can play defensive mid too.

Gringos – for those of you who turned into Foxsoccer.tv, what did you think of Holden’s performance?

2 Comments Post a Comment
  1. robinoz0 says:

    that’s a terribly impressive amount of completions. is that the norm for Holden, or was this just an outlier?

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