Kostas Tsimikas has a perfect defensive record this season. Just how has the Greek managed that?
Kostas Tsimikas is having a wonderful season. He was actually incredibly easy to forget about over the previous campaign, given Liverpool used their new signing just a handful of times.
In fact, Tsimikas played six Premier League minutes over his debut campaign. He only added another 135 in the Champions League.
And yet here we are, in November 2021, saying Tsimikas is a genuine threat to Andy Robertson at left-back. He’s been fantastic every time we’ve seen him this season.
Tsimikas creates at least two chances per game at the moment and actually managed to create four against Atletico Madrid. He’s very unfortunate to have only two assists.
But it’s defensively where Tsimikas really stands out.
Tsimikas and his brilliant defensive record
Liverpool have not conceded a goal with Tsimikas on the pitch this season. That’s quite incredible, given he’s started six games.
So why is that? Are Liverpool stronger with Tsimikas at the back than with Robertson?
Yes and no. It’s important to add context here – Robertson has played in far more difficult games.
The Scot lined up against Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea, AC Milan and away at Atletico Madrid. Tsimikas, in contrast, can say that the home tie against Atletico was the most difficult by far.
His clean-sheets before that came against Norwich (twice), Burnley, Crystal Palace, and Preston North End. Liverpool expected clean sheets in those games. The record is great but Tsimikas hasn’t been up against elite attacks.
The other side of it, however, is that Robertson lined up for Liverpool in games where they also wanted to keep clean sheets. The Reds conceded five goals against Brentford and Brighton, for instance.
Now, very few of those goals were Robertson’s fault or even down to him. At the same time, Tsimikas has literally zero goals against that involved him.
Their stats are quite interesting, too. Robertson averages twice as many interceptions than Tsimikas in the Premier League but half as many tackles.
That might be a sign of different styles or, perhaps, that teams wrongly try and target Tsimikas with the ball. That would help his defensive record as that isn’t a strategy that works.
This isn’t to downplay Tsimikas’s record. Nor do we want to suggest that one full-back is better than the other – it’s genuinely close right now.
But talk that Tsimikas is the answer to defensive problems is premature and ignores context a little. Liverpool’s defensive trend worries us – but left-back isn’t he root of it.