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West Ham United youngster Ben Johnson was given a real baptism of fire of a debut at senior level last night. When he was started at left-back by Manuel Pellegrini’s for the trip to the reigning champions Manchester City in the Premier League.

Whilst much of the Claret & Blue Army were gobsmacked to see the 19-year-old, who has only made one first-team matchday squad previously, for the same fixture last season, make the starting Xl. Johnson put in a solid performance and made a very strong account of himself against Pep Guardiola’s men at the Etihad Stadium. Join us today as we analyse the statistics behind’s the Academy of Football product’s senior bow.

The stats

The key general match statistics we’re going to be looking at under 24 hours after the Hammers’ respectable 1-0 defeat in Manchester are found in the below image. Courtesy of

Ben Johnson West Ham Man City Tactical Analysis Statistics

As we can see, the graphic also contains Johnson’s career average general statistics per 90 minutes from Development Squad level and above, but it’s just last night’s we’re going to be focussing on in our analysis. Although they do make for an interesting comparison.

Our first stat, beside columns detailing the starlet’s positioning at left-back within the back-four of Pellegrini and the fact that he played 64 minutes of the contest, before being replaced by Pablo Zabaleta. Is his total actions and rate of success in them.

Here, Johnson managed 38 actions on debut against one of the best attacks in world football spearheaded by one of the greatest strikers who ever lived in the form of Sergio Aguero. Completing a seemingly low but respectable 13 of them, or 34 per cent.

While the full-back who can play either side of the centre-backs or even further forward on the wings failed to manage a goal, assist, shot or expected goals rating above zero on the night. He did achieve 15 passes, a highly impressive 80% of which found their intended recipient.

Johnson was even better with his trickier, longer passes, registering a 100% success rate and ambitious with his dribbles, completing one of two. Despite the disappointment of not getting the opportunity to deliver a single cross into the penalty area of the side going for “the quadruple” in 2018/2019.

In spite of not embroiling himself in a single aerial duel, the cousin of ex-Tottenham Hotspur defender Ledley King and nephew of two-time Premier League winner Paul Parker, was far from humbled and shy in incredible company. Johnson showed this by contesting 16 duels, even if he only came out on top in one.

His defensive contribution was felt greatly with an eye-catching five interceptions along with just five losses and a single recovery at the Etihad. The bright charge topped this all off by not collecting a card of any form from referee Stuart Attwell, critiqued after the clash for wrongly awarding Man City the penalty that won them three points vital to their title bid, after minimal contact between Felipe Anderson and substitute Bernardo Silva in the box.

Overall, for a senior debut in the Premier League at the age of 19 against Guardiola’s full-strength world-beaters, considered by many to be the best team on the planet at present, these stats are wonderful. With passing accuracy, dribbles and interceptions featuring as real highlights to an evening he will never ever forget.


In conclusion, as aforementioned, our statistical tactical analysis today has discovered that the stats behind Johnson’s solid senior debut are outstanding. Had we offered him these figures pre-match, we’re sure he would have bitten our hand off for them.

Given his chance in the first place due to injuries to Aaron Cresswell and Arthur Masuaku, the athletic youngster may well get another opportunity when Newcastle United visit London Stadium on Saturday evening. But it’s important that after this baptism of fire, Johnson is gently introduced to senior football and taken down the same path as Declan Rice. West Ham must find the right balance between protection and under-exposure when dealing with this potential future superstar.

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