Luke Shaw

Shaw v Cancelo: The battle of the full-backs

Manchester United left-back Luke Shaw and his Manchester City counterpart Joao Cancelo have both had tremendous seasons so far.

The defenders are among the league's best performers - certainly in 2021 - with the Manchester rivals sitting in the top two of the Premier League going into the 185th derby on Sunday.

Luke Shaw has, barring injury in November and December, more or less been an ever-present in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s line-up, despite competition from new signing Alex Telles, while his Portuguese compatriot across town has thrived in a new role as a playmaking full-back, who can play on either flank.

As the Reds and the Blues clash once again, we’ve crunched the numbers and looked at how Shaw and Cancelo size up...


The full-backs have come up against each other on five occasions, four times in this particular fixture and once in the 2018/19 UEFA Champions League group stage, when Cancelo played for Juventus and they won 1-0 at Old Trafford. It's even stevens so far, with two wins apiece and a draw - in the stalemate at Old Trafford in December.


As with the head-to-head record, the defenders are putting up similar numbers when it comes to goal involvements this season.

In all competitions, Shaw has delivered six assists already, which is his best-ever tally in a single campaign for United. Five of those assists have come in the Premier League, with four arriving in just three games in February. In fact, Shaw was voted Player of the Month for his showings last month and much of that is down to his constant offensive threat and precise crossing - the 25-year-old whips in 1.9 crosses per 90, compared to Cancelo's 0.4.

In 31 appearances so far this season (the same as our no. 23) Cancelo also has six goal contributions, with the Portuguese international finding the back of the net twice and setting up teammates four times. Half of the City defender's goals and assists have come in the Premier League, with the rest spread across the UEFA Champions League and the FA Cup.

Shaw's fine FebruaryVideo


In addition to their productivity at the other end of the pitch, both players are vital cogs in their respective defences. Shaw has been on the pitch for nine clean sheets in the Premier League this season, while City have 13 with Cancelo in the starting line-up.

Luke has recorded 1.4 tackles, 1.4 clearances, 0.8 interceptions and 0.2 blocks per 90 minutes - Cancelo edges him out on tackles (2) and interceptions (1.4), but Shaw comes out on top in relation to clearances (0.9) and blocks (0.1).

While Bruno Fernandes and Ilkay Gundogan (plus Ruben Dias and John Stones) may have claimed most of the credit for the sides' league performances this season, there can be no doubt that we'll be seeing two of English football's finest full-backs in action at the Etihad this weekend.

*Stats from WhoScored and Transfermarkt.


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