Stat focus: Who are Arsenal’s best central defenders?

Fresh Arsenal newsletter

Pablo Mari, David Luiz, Rob Holding and Gabriel Magalhaes have all excelled at different times this season but they also all had some wobbly moments. After the likes of Mustafi and Sokratis were let go, who is the best duo at the disposal of Mikel Arteta? We take a closer look at the statistics.

Due to the quality of opposition Arsenal have faced so far in the Europa League so far, we’ve decided to only take Premier League performances into account for this. This means for Mari we are working off a very small sample size.


Pablo Mari maybe surprisingly tops the list in terms of average tackles per 90, with 1.7, Holding is just behind on 1.4, Gabriel 1.1 and Luiz way down on 0.5.


Embed from Getty Images

Summer signing Gabriel Magalhaes tops the list in terms of interceptions (1.4). The Brazilian is very much a defender who likes to engage as we told you in our in-depth summer scouting report of the 23-year-old. The next closest is some way off, with Holding on 0.9 and then Luiz with 0.6 and Mari down on 0.3.


Perhaps unsurprisingly given their statuses at the top of tackles and interceptions, Pablo Mari (1) and Gabriel Magalhaes (0.9) top the list in terms of most fouls, though neither tally is concerning – Holding and Luiz are only just behind on 0.8.


Rob Holding is the leader on this one (4.3) – he loves a clearance! But does that affect his passing? Find out further down. Mari also high with 4, with Gabriel (3) and Luiz (2.3) coming in third and fourth.


Embed from Getty Images

Who puts their body on the line the most? Pablo Mari is currently topping the list with 1.3, Gabriel with 1, Holding 0.7 and finally and maybe not surprisingly, Luiz with just 0.5.


All four defenders have very similar pass success rates, but Gabriel Magalhaes comes out on top (86.9%). Gabriel also averages the most passes of any other central defender (71.6), this is 10 higher than any of the others. In terms of long balls, Gabriel does tend to play less than his teammates though, averaging 2.4 compared to Holding’s 3.5 and Luiz 3.3.

Goal threat

Only one of Arsenal’s current central defensive options have scored in the Premier League this season and that is Gabriel Magalhaes with 2. It is worth noting that Luiz and Mari have both netted once in the Europa League.

In conclusion, it looks very good for Gabriel who tops the charts in a lot of areas. David Luiz, on the other hand, is leading in no areas. Mari looks the next best statistically, but his small sample size of just three games makes it hard to draw any conclusions, plus him being left footed may make it difficult to partner him with Gabriel. Rob Holding is therefore looks the best option to partner Gabriel right now, though the Gunners may well be looking to improve their starting right centre back for next season given Holding’s limited on the ball ability and recent mistakes.

With David Luiz seeing his contract expire at the end of the season, it could be a good opportunity to naturally part ways with the Brazilian who has offered Arsenal qualities on and off the pitch during his spell, but with moments of madness and limited effectiveness, Arsenal should take this opportunity to move on from the player.

Sign up to our new free weekly newsletter to get the updated Arsenal Power Rankings to your inbox every week, plus lots of other Arsenal content by clicking here. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for Arsenal news and stats including breaking transfer news. Subscribe to our new YouTube channel for video content.