John Egan at home in Premier League and his stats are up there with the best
Arsenal couldn't believe it. John Egan just kept on doing what he's doing.
For the fourth time in seven away games, the Gunners had lost to a newly promoted team. For the first time since the beginning of this season, the Gunners had been held scoreless.
Meet John Egan. This is the Cork/Kerryman who's coming great at the age of 27. He's a rock for the Blades, he'll be a rock for Ireland too and one thing you can be sure of is that the best is yet to come.
First, let's take a look back at the masterclass of defensive football that had him on the Premier League team of the week. The type of masterclass that he's making a habit out of.
The clock edging towards 10.00 of a Monday night and the travelling fans are slinking into their seats in despair. You'd be forgiven for thinking the game was over, but Arsenal fans are resigned to the facts; there's no way past.
They're cursing the insurmountable wall at the centre of the Sheffield United rearguard, their curses are being drowned out by the thunderous chorus of the Sheffield faithful celebrating another glorious triumph. A triumph that brings Chris Wilder's men up to ninth in the table.
While Lys Mousset has inevitably grabbed a lot of the headlines, due credit should be showered on the understated hero – the unshakeable John Egan.
This was no mean feat. For all of Arsenal's defensive and systemic frailties, their attack has been one of the few bright spots of their season – in particular, the fluorescent Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Arsenal had scored 13 goals in the Premier League in nine games . And seven of the goals have come straight off Aubameyang's boots. Egan quite clearly, had his work cut out in keeping the Gabonese talisman under check.
But you cut the work out for him and he'll get it done.
It's no coincidence that Sheffield United, playing in the Premier League for the first time after 12 years down, are higher in the table than a certain Manchester United.
Positioned at the centre of a three-man defence next to Chris Basham and Jack O'Connell, Egan did brilliantly to ensure the Arsenal forward's impact on the game was almost negligible. Concentration is a key strength of the Cork native – and it showed in this game.
Over the 90 minutes against Arsenal, he carried out:
- 1 tackle
- 3 interceptions
- 7 clearances
- Won 5 aerial duels
Egan doesn't flinch. Everywhere Aubameyang turned, Egan was there. Everytime Arsenal tried to slide one through, he was alive to the danger as his three interceptions and seven clearances state ever so proudly.
This was far from a once-off though.
Additionally, Egan has helped his side keep four clean sheets in the league so far, twice as many as table-toppers Liverpool. Was it any wonder then that Arsenal only managed three shots on target despite having 69% of the possession?
— Sheffield United (@SheffieldUnited) October 22, 2019
Egan has been consistently good for The Blades throughout the season so far. In nine PL games so far, on average per game, he's managed–
- 1.2 tackles
- 2.1 interceptions
- 5.9 clearances
- 80.8% pass accuracy
- 82% tackle success rate
More than decent numbers indeed, all of which has played no small part in ensuring Wilder's side's decent performances in the league so far.
— Sheffield United (@SheffieldUnited) October 21, 2019
Put all this together and it starts to materialise how key a role Egan plays in this Sheffield team's success and if they are to avoid relegation this season, keeping him fit and firing in the months to come will be crucial. And of course, one can only hope that his confident performances for his club side will seamlessly translate into similar efforts with the Ireland team. Based on what we've seen, good things can be expected from the 27-year-old.