I will be drawing on their relative statistics from last year, as well as my own experiences from what I have seen of Debuchy. Though it may seem somewhat unfair to compare the statistics of a player who played in France’s Ligue 1 to someone who played in the Premiership, nonetheless, on inspection it gives us a fair indication of the different discernable characteristics the two players, and what Debuchy might bring to the club on the right hand side of defence.
Looking at both the player himself, and the stats, one thing that becomes apparent is that like Newcastle United’s last big aquisition in the full back department, Davide Santon, Debuchy tends more of an offensive player than Simpson. In other words, like Santon, he can be more of a “wing back” style player who can, and has, also played as a full winger in the past, and who can overlap more with the full wingers in attack, create chances, and score a few goals too.
But firstly, let’s take a look at the defensive statistics for the two players.
|Simpson v Debuchy defensive stats (2011/12)|
|Danny Simpson (2011/12)||Competition||Apps||TPG||FPG||CPG||IPG||BSPG||DPG||OWPG||OGs||Premiership||35||1.9||0.7||3.6||1.7||0.5||0.5||0.2||0||FA Cup||2||N/A||1.5||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||0||League Cup||3||N/A||1.7||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||0||Total||40||1.9||0.8||3.6||1.7||0.5||0.5||0.2||0|
|Mathieu Debuchy (2011/12)||Competition||Apps||TPG||FPG||CPG||IPG||BSPG||DPG||OWPG||OGs||Ligue 1||32||2.8||2.3||4.3||2.1||0.3||0.7||0.4||0||Champions League||6||2.2||2.5||2.2||1.2||0.2||0.5||0.2||0||Euro Championships||4||2||2.3||1.3||0.8||0||0.5||0||0||Total||42||2.6||2.3||3.7||1.8||0.2||0.6||0.3||0|
Appearences (Apps), Tackles per game (TPG), Fouls per game (FPG), Clearences per game (CPG), Interceptions per game (IPG), Blocked shots per game (BSPG), Dribbled per game (DPG), Offsides won per game (OWPG), Own goals (OGs).
Perhaps the first thing we can notice here is that Debuchy, even though he has sometimes been used in midfield as a something of a playmaker and also plays in the somewhat less “physical” French league, is still more of a tackler than Simpson, who tends to prefer shepherding players out of harms way and blocking before jumping in with his feet. As you can also see, the downside of this is that Debuchy also picks up more fouls per game than Simpson, and also had a worse disciplinary record than Simpson last season, as well as throughout his career. Though he is not above committing himself and has picked up yellow cards occaisionally, Simpson has never been sent off throughout his career despite playing in a more physical league than Debuchy. The Frenchman on the other hand is no stranger to the ref. He has been sent off four times, and has picked up no fewer than 56 yellow cards in a 278 game career so far (one for every five games very roughly). For Simpson it is 28 in 191 (one for every seven).
In most other respects, their defensive statistics are very similar, though once again, it should be borne in mind that although Lille are a very good team, Simpson was playing in what is arguably a far more far more physical and competitive league and has more than kept his end up nonetheless.
But now lets take a look at the more offensive stats.
|Simpson v Debuchy offensive stats (2011/12)|
|Danny Simpson (2011/12)||Competition||Apps||Gls||Ass||SPG||PPG||KPPG||PS||CPG||LBPG||DPG||CO||Premiership||35||0||0||0.1||30.4||0.4||76.3%||0.7||1.8||0.2||0.1||FA Cup||2||0||0||0.5||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||League Cup||3||1||0||0||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||Total||40||1||0||0.1||30.4||0.4||76.3%||0.7||1.8||0.2||0.1|
|Matieu Debuchy (2011/12)||Competition||Apps||Gls||Ass||SPG||PPG||KPPG||PS||CPG||LBPG||DPG||CO||Ligue 1||32||5||1||1.2||38.1||0.8||77.4%||0.8||0.8||0.7||0.3||Champions League||6||0||0||1.8||50.7||0.3||77.6%||1.0||1.2||0.8||0.5||Euro Championships||4||0||0||0.7||32||1||85.9%||0.2||0.5||1.0||0||Total||42||5||1||1.3||38.9||0.8||78.1%||0.8||0.9||0.7||0.3|
Appearences (Apps), Goals (Gls), Assists (Ass) Shots per game (SPG), Passes per game (PPG), Key passes per game (KPPG), Pass success (PS), Crosses per game (CPG), Long balls per game (LBPG), Dribbles per game (DPG), Caught offside (CO).
Although Simpson may well win out purely on defence with his smoother style in a generally more physical and competitive league, as I have suggested already, it should be in more offensive play where Dubuchy should really come into his own; and so it has proved here. Debuchy scored five goals with one assist last season (in 42 game in all competitions) to Simpson’s one goal with no assists (in 40 overall). Debuchy also made more significantly more shots on goal per game than Simpson and a few more passes too. In terms of their respective passing success, they are broadly similar, with Debuchy just having a very slight advantage last season. They are also very similar on crosses per game, with Simpson tending to play more long balls, though this may be accounted for by the differences in team tactics, with Lille playing playing more of a short passing game. As well as this, due to Debuchy’s more offensive nature, he will run upfield with ball more, overlap and launch attacks more than Simpson rather than staying at his post. Debuchy is also more of a dribbler who gets caught offside slightly more often, once a reflection of the more attacking side to his game.
|Simpson v Debuchy general and disciplinary stats (2011/12)|
|Danny Simpson (2011/12)||Competition||Apps||ADWPG||YCs||RCs||MotMA||Premiership||35||0.7 (45.1%)||7||0||1||FA Cup||2||N/A||1||0||0||League Cup||3||N/A||0||0||0||Total||40||0.7 (45.1%)||8||0||1|
|Matieu Debuchy (2011/12)||Competition||Apps||ADWPG||YCs||RCs||MotMA||Ligue 1||32||2.1 (78.6%)||9||1||1||Champions League||6||3.0 (81.8%)||1||0||0||Euro Championships||4||1 (57.1%)||1||0||0||Total||42||2.1 (77.9%)||11||1||1|
Appearences (Apps), Aerial duels won per game (ADWPG), Yellow cards (YCs), Red cards (RCs), Man of the Match awards (MotMA).
There may not be too much here which I haven’t covered already in terms of Simpson’s and Debuchy’s relative disciplinary records. However, one thing which hasn’t been covered so far is the respective aerial abilities of the players. As with most things covered here, both watching the players in action and looking at the figures here, Debuchy certainly seems to come out on top (literally), though this is nothing to do with height. Like Simpson, Debuchy is no giant and they are more or less the same height (around 5’9″). As both are primarily left backs rather than centre backs, this isn’t the most important thing by any means, though Simpson has found himself somewhat exposed in this area on the very rare occaisions when he had to fill in as a centre back.
So there you have it. There seems to be advantages and disadvantages, or at least contrasts between both players. Simpson is generally elegant in his style and very dependable in his position with a good disciplinary record. On the other hand, Debuchy can be more versatile when the team is in attack and is better aerially. However the downside is that he is considerably more “clumsy” in defence, most specifically in the tackle and has a worse disciplinary record. So, the team would face a (very) slightly greater chance of finishing with ten men if Debuchy is on the pitch rather than Simpson. To sum up though, they could make a great duo to cover the right back position in a top team which has two excellent if slightly contrasting players to cover each position in a “horses for courses” way. I certainly wouldn’t say that that Debuchy is a far superior replacement for Simpson, both are excellent players in their own way, depending on which qualities are preferable in a given situation.