After three years in the third tier of English football, Charlton Athletic have finally secured promotion to the Championship after defeating Sunderland in the League One play-off final. At the heart of this has been Joe Aribo. The midfielder’s solid performances this season have seen links with Rangers, Frankfurt and a host of English sides, although it looks like Stoke City will win the race for his signature. It has been some rise from non-league for Aribo but what can be expected from him now? This tactical analysis will look at Joe Aribo and the skillset he brings to the table.
Tactical analysis – How has he fit in?
Over the course of the campaign, Charlton Athletic mostly used a traditional diamond. The re-emergence of the diamond as a popular formation has left teams, particularly those lower down the food chain struggling to develop methods to contain the midfield overload. The athleticism and ability of Aribo has fit perfectly in Charlton’s midfield four, pinned by Krystian Bielik.
Aribo has been key in the successful implementation of the diamond, however. Being able to occupy each individual position within midfield shows his flexibility both tactically and technically, making himself indispensable. As can be seen in his season heat map, he has been utilised most playing on the left-hand side.
His lung-busting runs from box-to-box have drawn comparisons with Premier League legend Yaya Toure. Whilst bold, these comparisons are not too far wide of the mark. The ability to drive their teams up the pitch with long strides, slim yet powerful physiques and goalscoring from midfield are key similarities. After starring within a diamond and proving his flexibility, it may be interesting to see where Aribo sees his own future.
Aribo in attack
This season has been successful in a variety of ways for Aribo. In his previous fifty-eight appearances he managed a meagre 6 goals, an average of 0.10 per game. This season, however, he posted ten goals in thirty-nine appearances. The increase in goals per game from 0.10 to 0.26 was key in Charlton securing promotion, following the loss of Karlan Grant in January. More impressive still is that the ten goals came from just thirty shots, highlighting the improvement in his finishing from the year before. With Charlton increasingly reliant on Lyle Taylor following Grant’s departure, midfield goals from the likes of Aribo were key in their eventual promotion from League One.
Taylor laying off to Aribo. Scunthorpe (A)
The late Frank Lampard-esque runs into the box were clearly something worked upon last Summer. This newly discovered knack can be seen in his goal in the defeat at Scunthorpe back in October. He originally plays the ball into Taylor in the box who draws numerous to the ball before laying it back to Aribo who slots in from eight yards out.
His attacking talents are not restricted to shooting, however. Aribo has played a big part in the Charlton build up throughout the season. After developing a good understanding with the likes of Taylor and Grant, he laid on three assists over the course of the season. This number could be considered slightly deceptive though. 0.08 assists per game fall short of his expected assists per game by almost 50%, as this sits at 0.14, which would place him on 6 assists for the season.
As for his general passing play, a 78% pass completion rate over the course of the season is solid if unspectacular. Whilst Aribo’s passing and shooting have both been improved upon in the past few seasons, his dribbling has always been a strength. Toure-like explosive power helps him to motor past players with the ball, breaking defensive lines before playing the ball.
Playing in attacking sides who tend to have the majority of possession can make it difficult to analyse the defensive impact of a player. Having finished the League One season with forty goals conceded, Charlton boasted the second-best defence in the division.
The role played by Aribo and his fellow midfielders were crucial, too. The midfield diamond allowed them to press the ball high up the pitch and funnel their opponents down the flanks before snapping shut and winning the ball back in dangerous areas.
The diamond also allows a more solid, deep block against superior or more attacking teams. In those circumstances, Aribo could tuck in narrow on the left-hand side to stifle the space and prevent the opposition from breaking through.
His defensive statistics back this up, too. Over the course of the League One campaign, he managed to average 2.89 tackles per game, as well as 0.89 interceptions, showing his capabilities in defence as well as attack. He was also key in the Charlton press, with an average of 3.31 pressure regains from an average of 15.93 pressures per game which highlight the effectiveness of Charlton’s high press.
It will be fascinating to see what happens next for Aribo as Charlton make the step up from League One to the Championship. Last term saw undoubted progression technically and physically, as well as a more mature approach to his play. Whilst his power and speed when he could make the step up, whether that be to the Premier League or Bundesliga.
However, being just twenty-two means that time is on his side and a move to a larger club may be more beneficial to his game as he becomes a more well-rounded player and less reliant on his raw attributes. Either way, with his contract set to expire in just a matter of weeks, it will be very interesting to see where Joe Aribo will be playing next season.