It’s fair to say Seamus Coleman hasn’t enjoyed his best season as an Everton player with many ups-and-downs during the 2018/19 campaign to date.
The Republic of Ireland international has largely remained a regular in the starting XI despite not producing the consistently good performances he has in recent years, but he looked to be getting back to a higher standard during the recent run of three successive wins.
However, the 30-year-old endured a miserable day as the Toffees were beaten 2-0 by already-relegated Fulham at Craven Cottage on Saturday, being torn apart by Ryan Babel of all people.
Meanwhile, Jonjoe Kenny has been a promising young player at Goodison Park for a while and has had some spells in the team in the past couple of seasons.
It all begs the question; why is manager Marco Silva ignoring the 22-year-old right now?
The England U21 international hasn’t even made the 18-man squad for the Merseyside outfit’s previous four matches, and the Portuguese manager’s reluctance to put him in the side is certainly not because of the duo’s defensive stats.
According to WhoScored, Kenny has averaged more tackles and made more interceptions and clearances than his senior teammate per appearance, albeit in 16 fewer Premier League outings.
Few would argue that he isn’t stronger at the back than Coleman given how the Irishman has struggled at times this term, but another stat will probably shock a few – their dribbling.
That has been one of the 30-year-old’s main strengths during his career as he flies down the wing, takes people on and launches crosses into the box, but it just isn’t happening now – a sign of age and injury creeping up on him perhaps.
Kenny has averaged 0.8 dribbles compared to 0.3 for Coleman, but it is the crossing stats that are ultimately keeping the latter as the first-choice right-back.
It is clear to see that Silva wants his full-backs to be a big attacking outlet and the main supplier of crosses in the team, which is shown by the fact that Lucas Digne on the opposite flank has averaged 2.3 per game.
Compare that to wingers like Richarlison (0.1), Bernard (0.4), Theo Walcott & Ademola Lookman (both 0.3), and it is clear to see that the former Watford boss needs his defensive flankers to make an impact in the final third.
There is more chance of Coleman doing that for the rest of this season at least as his crossing average lies at 0.6 per game compared to Kenny’s 0.4.
The 22-year-old will need to show a significant improvement in that area of his game if he wants to ever be a regular starter at Everton, but with his teammate declining it would be no surprise to see Silva dip into the transfer market for a right-back this summer.