Between seasons two and three of “Game of Thrones”, as the love interest between Ygritte and Jon Snow begins to kindle and eventually blossoms into a passionate but albeit brief love affair, a popular phrase is uttered on a few occasions by Ygritte as she ever so lovingly tries to remind lord Snow that he’s no longer in the comforts of his home at Winterfell. And, unless you’ve been living under a rock or perhaps “north of the Wall”, you by now know that that phrase is of course “you know nothin’, Jon Snow.” Naturally, she’s referring to how she believes Jon knows nothing of the real world; the world outside of his nice, warm castle, and how to go about life – especially life beyond the Wall.
And while the fiery redhead may be right to a certain extent (after all, Jon’s only supposed to be around 14 during all of this), there are several things that Jon does in fact know a great deal about. For example, even at a young age he’s an accomplished rider, swordsman, and archer. He also appears to know a little something (wink-wink, nudge-nudge) about pleasing the lady folk as he demonstrates when temptation gets the best of him and he decides to break the sacred oath of the Night’s Watch. All are skills that could see a young man go far, regardless of which side of the Wall he was on.
And as I think about the plight of young lord Snow, I’m often reminded (yes, largely because the name’s are similar) of a certain young defender who some might also say ‘knows nothin’.
But they wouldn’t say that about his football, because clearly, at only 19 years of age, John Stones appears to know plenty about the beautiful game.
After transferring from Championship side Barnsley back in January of 2013, Stones hasn’t figured into the Everton starting 11 too often, but that all changed on January 1st of this year when he received his first start for the Blue’s in place of injured Phil Jagielka. Since then, he hasn’t looked back and has not only made his case to retain his starting position, but also has other teams reportedly lining up to acquire his services. His name has also started to get some more run when talking about a certain plane ride this summer.
Let’s take a look at what John Stones does know.
John Stones knows….
How to Win the Individual Battles
With the exception of tackles (although he’s still won half of them), Stones has won well over half of his individual duels. Most noticeably are his take on’s. Center Backs don’t need to necessarily be spectacular on the ball, but the fact that he’s so good with the ball at his feet is a rare sight for a defender – especially for one his age. It demonstrates his confidence in bringing the ball forward into the midfield to help begin the team’s attack. Additionally, being 6’2″ bodes well for the aerial duels that a Center Back will undoubtedly face from all the crosses, corners, and other set pieces that a team might face in any given match.
John Stones knows….
One of the more surprising characteristics displayed by the young Stones thus far has been his passing ability. His staggering 90% completion rate (686/758) not only leads the team, but also demonstrates a key trait that defenders must posses, and that’s the ability to accurately get the ball up the field to the midfielders and forwards. Of his 686 completed passes, 79 have been of the long ball variety (over 35m), and he’s created 5 chances from his Center Back position.
John Stones knows…
In a match against Newcastle on March 25th, Stones took a nasty knock to the dome in the 40th minute and received and unsightly gash for his efforts. Most players would’ve called it a day, but not Stonsey! He simply dawned some new headgear and went back out on the pitch to close out a full 90 minutes in the 3-0 drubbing of the Magpies.
He’s only made 20 appearances and played a total of 1281 minutes so far this season so the sample size isn’t the biggest, but there’s no doubt he’s displayed all the skills necessary to be a very good Premier League defender. Along with the figures I’ve already laid out, he also displays something you can’t teach; you either wake up in the morning with it or you don’t, and that’s instincts. A defender must know how to anticipate how a play is forming and where the ball is going to go. Stones does this with great ease. On one such occasion back on April 12th against Sunderland, his great instincts were on display when keeper Tim Howard was beaten after a ball was mistakenly played back to him, and the opposing striker struck a ball that surely would’ve found the back of the net had it not been for young Stones who, as soon as the mistake was made, knew where he needed to be and arrived there just in time to block the ball out of bounds.
Yes, he and Jon Snow share much in common aside from just similar sounding names. Both are young men trying to make it in their respective worlds, and there is much yet for them to learn. But when it comes to their professions, weather football or protecting the Realm, both are adequately suited to perform their duties.
All data taken from Squawka.com