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Player Of The Month In Focus: Andy Yiadom

A closer look at what won Andy Yiadom his first ever TTE honour for Reading FC.

Reading v Derby County - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images

[In my best presenting voice, on the off-chance that Ant or Dec is still looking for a co-host on I’m a Celebrity...] The votes have been cast, counted and I am pleased to reveal that the official Player of the Month on The Tilehurst End for August is... Andy Yiadom! The Ghanaian romped home to victory, with 59% of you picking him in our poll.

It’s surely not been an easy decision to come to. With Reading FC suffering their worst start to a season in 21 years, it feels like everyone connected to the club can hardly call themselves winners at the moment. But, unfortunately, we had to crown someone the winner.

And, in a perhaps surprising twist, the award goes to a defender, of all positions. But it would be disingenuous to say the least to describe Andy Yiadom as simply a defender. For he offers so much more to the team, as we will show in the following three stats.

Filling some big shoes

Before Andy arrived in Berkshire, the right side of defence was essentially mortgaged by Chris Gunter. He was not only the first-choice right back for The Royals, he was the only choice for the club (ignoring the small threat of Tennai Watson). His stamina meant that, in the six seasons he has played for Reading, only once has he failed to appear fewer than 38 times in a campaign.

Yiadom joins the squad to augment the position, which should take some of the pressure off the club captain. But he has, in his short time with Reading to date, followed in the Welshman’s footsteps by making the most appearances of any outfield player this season so far.

While six successive games isn’t a particularly impressive statistic in itself, and it doesn’t mean he will continue to feature in every game for the rest of the campaign, he has already put over one hundred more minutes on the pitch than any other Reading player besides first-choice goalkeeper Vito Mannone.

Reading FC 2018/2019 Appearances

Name Appearances (as substitute) Minutes on pitch
Name Appearances (as substitute) Minutes on pitch
Andy Yiadom 6 540
Vito Mannone 6 540
Sam Baldock 5 (1) 436
Yakou Meite 4 (2) 408
Liam Kelly 4 (1) 391

Arguably, this could be partially explained due to Gunter starting the season with an injury and, with a fully-fit squad, Paul Clement may opt for more rotation. But, with Andy Yiadom’s statistics remaining consistent despite a heavier workload, it’s fair to say that early signs of supreme fitness are looking good.

Tackling’s a fine art

Every full-back needs to be competent in the art of defence. It’s one of the few areas where Gunter was lacking last season, and it is something which Yiadom has excelled at during his short time with Reading already. His average tackles-per-game currently stand at 2.5, the joint-highest in the team alongside fellow defender Tyler Blackett, who has played two fewer games than Andy.

He has been impressive in the tackling department in all games so far, but his best performance was against Nottingham Forest on August 11. As you can see from the visual below, he made four successful challenges over these ninety minutes, and it wasn’t just a case of protecting his goal. Only one was made on the edge of his own area, and two of them were in the opposition half, which shows his versatility.

Andy Yiadom’s tackles vs Nottingham Forest

Length is everything

If my wife says it often enough, it must be true. Even a defensive full-back needs to be able to get forward to some extent, particularly with the wide midfielders not on form currently. Andy Yiadom has proven adept at this part of his game, with his ‘heatmaps’ showing a broad range of positioning. His most balanced was in the 2-2 draw with Blackburn Rovers toward the end of the month, where he managed to get down the entire right flank of the pitch.

This game is not a one-off however, it is simply representative of his general style across all the games he has played for Reading. Indeed, even his heatmaps for Barnsley previously show a similar tendency for a lot of movement, and this is likely one of the reasons that that Reading saw fit to invest in him.

Andy Yiadom’s heatmap vs Blackburn Rovers

Congratulations again to Andy for winning our first TTE Player of the Month award for the 2018/19 season - here’s to many more!

What do you think about Yiadom’s impact at Reading so far? Leave us a comment below.

Heatmaps and stats are taken from WhoScored.