Rob Atkinson was Bristol City’s blockbuster summer signing in a window that otherwise saw them look to do things cheaply.
Matty James and Andy King both joined on free transfers while the Robins paid a reported £275,000 for Rob Atkinson – a pinch in comparison to the seven-figure fee they spent on Atkinson.
The 23-year-old defender arrived after a hugely impressive 2020/21 campaign for Oxford United and has slotted straight in Nigel Pearson’s starting XI but how has he fared for the Robins so far and what do the stats say? We take a look…
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Atkinson has played every minute of all eight of City’s Championship games this season – a period that has seen the Robins take 12 points, concede nine goals, and keep one clean sheet.
The central defender has featured as part of both a back four and a back three, and been the only constant in a defensive line that has seen other players shifted around.
Clearly, he’s someone that Pearson has a huge amount of faith in and for good reason. His defensive stats are exemplary and illustrate not just his quality as a physical defender but also his impressive reading of the game.
Atkinson has won 83.33% of his defensive duels this term – the fourth-highest success rate in the Championship – and 67.6% of those in the air (Wyscout), while only Chris Martin and Nathan Baker have won more aerial duels for City this term (Whoscored).
He’s so often in the right place at the right time, as illustrated by the fact that the centre-back features among the top 20 players in the division when it comes to interceptions with 58 in eight games and shots blocked, as well as averaging 3.45 clearances per 90 (Wyscout).
Are these 22 Bristol City stats real or fake?
The 23-year-old fits the mould of a modern centre-back when it comes to his quality in possession, something which is reflected in his stats this term.
Atkinson’s marauding runs from centre-back to bring the ball out of defence and surge toward the opposition box have been a feature of the first few months of City’s season, which his 1.61 progressive runs per 90 and 100% dribble success are evidence of (Wyscout). He’s not quite peak ‘Webdini’ yet Robins fans but he’s on his way there!
His distribution has been solid as well – according to Whoscored, no player in the squad has made more passes than the summer signing’s 303 – though the accuracy of his passes to the final third (63.3% as per Wyscout) and into the penalty area (0%) could be improved.
Despite his height and physicality, the defender has never been a consistent goal threat at any point in his short career and he’s yet to find the net or provide an assist for the South West club with his four shots, one on target, generating an xG of 0.58.
Atkinson will no doubt be keen to open his account for City but overall he has to be pleased with the way his Ashton Gate tenure has started, while Pearson has certainly seen the faith he’s put in him this term repaid.
It’s early days yet but the summer signing is proving a shrewd arrival one so far.