Date: 17th December 2010 at 2:10pm
Written by:

Ian Evatt is currently the eighth best defender in the Premier League. No, I’m not joking.

Statistical analysis released this week shows that Evo is just behind the likes of Nemanja Vidic and Ashley Cole in terms of performance levels this season.

Indeed, he’s the leading defender in the entire division in terms of clearances, blocks and tackles; something that will come as little surprise to anyone who saw his performance at Stoke last weekend.

Despite the stats though, Evo bizarrely continues to draw criticism in some quarters – take my fellow editor Jack for example, who rates Dekel Keinan above Evo in the Seasiders’ pecking order, or those who say that he’s not good enou (at least in the long term)gh to be the ball playing centre half he likes to think he is.

In my opinion, the fact of the matter is that like so many others in the ‘Pool squad, Evo has stepped up to the demands of the Premier League more than admirably and has formed a good centre half partnership with the mightily impressive Craig Cathcart.

Yes, he still makes errors and gets beaten now and then… but what centre half doesn’t, even at the highest level?!

I’m sure a time will come when Evo falls down our pecking order or is replaced, but for the time being he’s more than doing what manager Ian Holloway has asked of him.

Indeed, upon being told of the stats and what they show by The Gazette, Evo remarked that a lot of the credit for his performances has to go to the gaffer:

‘Those stats about the tackles and blocks are nice to see and to be ahead of others means I must be getting involved and playing well.

‘The biggest thing has always been belief and the gaffer has played a massive part in that.

‘He has instilled so much confidence in me that at the minute I feel I can play against anyone and cope with it.

‘I think the good thing about us is that we are an improving side, we are getting better week in, week out.

‘I don’t think we could have dreamed that the first half of the season could have gone any better.

‘So we are going to keep our heads down, keep working hard and fingers crossed we will pick up more points along the way. The way the boys are playing at the moment they deserve to.’