Antonee Robinson 2019/20 – scout report
With Christian Pulisic’s success at Chelsea and Giovanni Reyna’s rise at Borussia Dortmund, the youth from the United States have considerably gotten more attention. One such player is Antonee Robinson, playing full-back, at Wigan Athletic. Born in England, Robinson had the choice to pick England or the United States and ultimately chose the US.
His performances at Wigan Athletic, since 2018, have caught a fair amount of eyes with the most wide-eyed being those of AC Milan. In the 2019/20 season, Robinson was on the verge of making the big-money move to the Italian side for $13 million. However, due to a heart rhythm irregularity, the move was ultimately cancelled. Clearly, there is some potential in Robinson with such a big side swooping in for a 22-year-old.
In this tactical analysis, we’ll conduct a scout report of the American to find the strengths and weaknesses of the aspiring full-back. We’ll use statistics and dissect the tactics behind the player’s potential.
Initial data check among full-backs
Before we use the footage to look at Robinson, it is worth it to conduct statistical analysis to highlight certain areas we have to look out for.
We’ll start first with crossing play and analyzing crosses amongst Championship full-backs. Before we move on, some contextual primers. In this initial data check, I am comparing Robinson to people in his age group, under-24, and considering players who have played more than 900 minutes. After our footage analysis, we’ll see how Robinson fits in with the more veteran full-backs.
In this graphic, Robinson highlights himself as a voluminous crosser with him being well-above average and being amongst the top crossers from the left. Robinson’s 3.65 crosses from the left just goes to show how frequent Robinson whips the ball in and in those 3.65 crosses, 0.45 of them find their way in the goalie box per 90. In this latter metric, Robinson is rather average as seen by the size of his dot.
However, not every crosser crosses directly in the goalie box per 90. Other crossers make cut-backs, low crosses, and short-crosses. I have shown the same graphic but this time with deep completed crosses- a metric that records crosses that put one’s teammates within 20 meters of the goal. With this new metric, we see Robinson recording a high statistic of 1.34 deep completed crosses per 90 – a metric that is amongst the best as seen by the size of his dot. As such, it is safe to say that Robinson’s crossing – statistically – is amongst the best in the Championship.
In the modern game, full-backs are not only required to cross the ball well but also be progressive with their movement. In this measurement of progressiveness, Robinson shows himself quite well.
He is first in the league with his age pool for progressive runs – continuous ball control by a player attempting to draw his/her team significantly closer to the opponent’s goal – a high 4.02. In essence, this performance points to the fact that one of Robinson’s best strengths come from his mobility and movement with the ball.
On the other axis, we see Robinson recording 9.66 progressive passes – A forward pass that attempts to advance a team significantly closer to the opponent’s goal While this performance is certainly above average, it is not the best which points to the fact that the young full-back contributes to the attack more with directness rather than technicality.
Complementing the fact that Robinson advances better with his movement and directness than passes is this graphic that measures 1v1 ability. On both axes, we have both measures of ability to beat a man – dribbles and offensive duels. As we see with Robinson, he performs exceedingly well in both measures which point to the fact that the American repeatedly takes on his man and does so very frequently.
Robinson’s performance in measures of directness breaks down in goal-mouth action as the full-back performs average in both measures. This indicates that while Robinson’s strong runs, crossing, and dribbling ability make him a very strong and direct full-back, his lack of creativity from passing means that he isn’t exactly a Trend Alexander-Arnold or Andy Robertson.
In this measure of how Championship full-backs perform creatively, Robinson ranks below average for final third passes and just above-average for getting the ball in the penalty area. This graph serves well as a point that the American is not a creative full-back – looking to cause havoc with his pace and 1v1 ability rather than quick, witty passes.
In this final check, we see Robinson being very good defensively – albeit in some aspects. While he ranks very highly in possession-adjusted interceptions – sixth in his age group – he does perform less than average in possession-adjusted sliding tackles.
That is not to say that Robinson is a bad defender – sliding tackles are not always the best metric for judging defensive quality. Interceptions normally a good indicator of defensive ability because to intercept – normally – you require the ability to be defensively aware and be proactive. As such, Robinson’s good performance in this metric points to the fact that there is probably a raw quality to Robinson’s defending which is tied to his running and 1v1 ability.
At this point, we’ve established that Robinson is a very good traditional full-back who can carry the ball excellently, will repeatedly try to get past his man, and deliver frequent crosses that have an emphasis in putting his teammates within 20 meters of the goal. In addition to that, Robinson shows defensive solidity with his interception skills while the American’s weaknesses clearly seem to be with the technical side of the game.
Attacking strengths and weaknesses of Robinson
We’ll start with the ‘eye test’ from the attacking perspective. I’ll start with Robinson’s strengths and then onto weaknesses in his attacking aspects.
As evidenced by the data test, Robinson’s 1v1 ability, pace, and crossing abilities are his main specialties and the eye test corresponds with our data checks.
To showcase how good Robinson in his 1v1 ability, this particular sequence serves as a perfect example as to what the American can do.
Here Robinson is caught in a very tight and 1v1 situation from a winger. Since it’s a forward and he’s caught up against the line, the pressure is really on Robinson. In what is an excellent quality for the youngster, Robinson uses his pace and touch to guide the ball past the player and run into open space.
After an initial burst of pace, Robinson does a very characteristic thing with his running which involves him gradually making his way into the centre. Here his movement into the centre, as highlighted by white, draws two nearby opposition players and makes the defender further down the line hesitant in his positioning.
One of the great qualities of Robinson’s dribbling is his confident and central movement with the ball. With this composed nature on the ball, he’s able to fluidly come centre and in the process attract opposition players which aid his teammates.
His central dribbling means that he’s able to go even deeper and leave three players in the dust. The defender who was highlighted as being hesitant positioning now gets drawn to Robinson.
This is where Robinson shows his technicality with his body turns and movement. Despite being six feet tall, Robinson is very adept at turning his body quickly and with faith to fool the opponent. Here he uses his right foot to turn his movement into the centre – shown in dotted lines – to the left of the defender and continue forward.
With his run, Robinson has gotten past 4 players, and with the defender snapping at his heels, Robinson releases the ball to the advancing player, shown in yellow, who will exploit the space created by Robinson.
As seen with this one sequence, we got to see various of Robinson’s strengths in dribbling and 1v1 ability. He is very adept at using his touch and is able to turn his body quickly for faints and turns. In his dribbling, he does not make moves that are ‘flashy’ – instead opting for simple body movements to fool.
In addition to being able to move and turn his body quickly, Robinson is very explosive with his acceleration. This explosiveness is complemented by Robinson’s composed posture during his dribbling. He lacks the normal diminutiveness of a dribbler like Eden Hazard of Real Madrid or Riyad Mahrez of Manchester City. However, the Tics full-back makes up for that with a strong body frame.
In this sense, Robinson uses his strength as a proxy to getting past players. Since Robinson plays on the wings and isn’t playing the central areas, the strong frame coupled with acceleration makes him a danger for any defence when the opposition are caught out of shape. In addition, him being left-footed gives him a lot of protection when he goes on his runs and at the times, the only way to stop is him to foul him.
Here he uses his first touch to move the ball opposite to the incoming forward. Using the opposition’s momentum against them is a normal attribute of those who are comfortable in dribbling. After that, he uses his explosiveness to blast past the forward into the open space.
hA nearby attacker tries to stop Robinson’s run from behind but we see, with the white line, that the full-back’s posture is very strong and straight which makes it hard for him to fall or slow down.
One flaw in Robinson’s dribbling and 1v1 ability is his inability to combine his successful dribbling with an end-product. While dribbling past two to three players is pretty great, if the space created isn’t exploited then it becomes meaningless. Robinson, to his credit, mostly keeps possession from his dribbles but the kept possession is often played for keeping it safe.
Here Robinson has dribbled from wide to the centre as usual and has disrupted the defensive structure. He has two great options – one through ball near him and an incisive pass into the target player. Here, he plays it safely back which slows the play down and allows the defensive structure to restructure.
Here’s another example where Robinson comes in the centre has two excellent balls to play – a through ball to the left or to the right to the target man. Here the American plays it safely which allows the created space to be re-defended.
While this isn’t a major negative in his attacking game, if Robinson is to utilize his 1v1 ability, he has to add that final touch in his dribbling. The Latics full-back has shown this final pass on a few occasions but it is too few and far in between.
Moving on from his direct ability, another one of Robinson’s attacking strengths is crossing. In this, he has a few nuances on how he crosses and we’ll dissect those.
His specialty in crossing is crossing when a player is right up against him. Here, he will divert his body away from the player which gives him space to wrap his left-foot tightly. This allows Robinson to bypass normal blocks on his crosses.
Here we see Robinson right-up against a player and yet finds a way to cross that passes right in front of the defender. The target man recognizes this and starts running to get on the end of the cross.
Here we see that crossing ability in more detail. By diverting his body onto the angled axis, shown in red, Robinson draws in the defender on his right foot. This allows Robinson to wrap his foot and make the cross go right past the defender and bypass any late-block attempts. Here, Robinson’s strategy gets past the defender as a low-cross and asks a lot of questions from the defence.
These low crosses, and cut-backs, are Robinson’s crossing specialty. Where he falters by a bit is in his aerial crosses. I’ve found that when he’s looking to make an aerial cross, he’ll apply the same principle as he does for low-crosses. This means that the cross can often lack in power as his body is angled too much.
Here the defender comes late and Robinson diverts his body onto the red axis in this aerial cross. The cross lacks the power and the goal-keeper is able to easily claim the ball. If Robinson can fix his aerial-crossing ability, his crossing skillset will be very complete.
In addition to these qualities, Robinson is very much game-intelligent which means that he always knows what to do and his attacking performances always show urgency and a constant willingness to disrupt the defence. Where he can falter is where he has the possession for a too long. There his technical skills don’t aid him strongly with Robinson preferring safe passes. However, he has shown his ability to pass those final balls, albeit a few times, that separate the good from the best.
Defensive Strengths and Weaknesses of Robinson
As seen in the data check, one of Robinson’s defensive strength is his interception ability. While the eye test does confirm this, there’s a certain nuance as to why he performs very well in this metric.
Robinson is very flexible and as such, combining flexibility with his height means that the young full-back is very adept at stopping passes in behind the defence and general runs behind the defence.
Here Robinson accurately judges the run in behind with the pass and slides right-ward to right in a counterattack. This is enough for his team-mate to quickly collect the ball and regain possession.
Aside from intercepting these kinds of plays, Robinson is also comfortable at dealing with short-distance runs in-behind. His strong frame and flexibility allow him to quickly block passing lanes to the run-in behind and strongly guide the attacker to the touchline.
Here’s a good example of Robinson’s ability to block passing lanes. The runner in-behind does not have a defender with him and as such, it is all the more impressive in how Robinson blocks it. By having his body on a half-turn and the legs stretched, Robinson creates a solid triangle that blocks the pass in-behind.
As good as Robinson can be, he has some flaws in his defensive awareness. His desire to block passing lanes and really shut down an attacker can be too much at times. This often leads to Robinson vacating space behind him. If his team-mates aren’t fast enough, Robinson can create more problems than solve some.
In this example, Robinson sprints upward in a very aggressive way to defend against the wide attacker. As one can see, there is no player ready to fill that space immediately – even the midfielder will take some time to get back, shown in yellow. With the midfielder going deep, Wigan lose a player in the half-space which can allow another attacker, shown in red, to control the area.
While Robinson isn’t the best at aerial duels, his tenacity to get aggressive means that he wins a lot of defensive duels and records interceptions for his team. This quality can be a good asset for a pressing and active team but if done on the wrong timing, can open up holes in the defence. If the attacker has a cool head or if the defence has a well-versed passing sequence, they can exploit the space opened by Robinson.
Despite this flaw, Robinson is still a very good defender who is very comfortable at defending long balls and also short-distance situations. He is also very proficient at dealing with counter-attacking situations utilizing his pace and strong frame to sizing up attackers.
Blending his defending and attacking strengths is one thing that Robinsons is great at. Often times, when he intercepts the ball, Robinson often looks to then get on the offensive with his dribbling and running ability.
Here’s another example of Robinson showing his strength in defending. In a counter-attack situation, Robinson uses his frame to create the greatest area and block the pass in-behind. Then, Robinson springs into attacking action by dribbling into the left-channel with the speed he does.
Concluding data checks and data profile
Through our data-checks and footage, we’ve seen most of how Robinson is as a player. In this section, I’ll just do some final data-checks of Robinson compared to other full-backs in the Championship – regardless of age – and a full data profile of the young full-back.
We’ll start with creative passing for Robinson and for the exception of deep completed crosses, we see that Robinson isn’t the most creative full-back in the Championship. In many metrics, he ranks rather average and in others, the American doesn’t pop out. Clearly this is the most urgent category in which Robinson needs to improve in. If he wants to play a higher level, he has to be comfortable in creating sometimes with his own passes.
Next up, we’ll look at measures that are more direct, Robinson ranks really high – topping out as first in some metrics. This is a testament to how well Robinson is in causing problems with his raw attributes and directness. While he performs poorly in the box, that is rather fine for Robinson as not every full-back needs to be trying to score a goal.
Lastly in measures of defending, we see Robinson perform well in some metrics while performing poorly in some other metrics. The metrics he performs well are in those that require 1v1 to defending and covering the ground. In other metrics that record aerial capacity and sliding tackles, he performs rather poorly.
For someone of his height, if Robinson can better his aerial ability than he’d become better-rounded, defensively, as a full-back.
This is the final data scout report for Robinson for his 2019/20 season at Wigan Athletic. Previous points about passing can be seen with his low engagement with the metrics. All in all, Robinson is a very good prospect for the USMNT and for Wigan Atheltic. His directness makes him a great prospect and if certain skills in his skillset can be fixed, Robinson can become even better as a full-back.
In this scouting report, we saw through the use of data and statistics of the strengths and weaknesses in Antonee Robinson’s game. As a promising youth talent for the USMNT, he shows himself to be worth the hype being given and one can see why would AC Milan would go for him in the transfer window.