Jordan Jones is entering the second season of his four-year contract at Rangers. Fortune went against Jones during the 19/20 campaign, as he picked up a knee injury in early September against Celtic. Prior to the injury, the Northern Irish international was in eye-catching good form, assisting two goals from two starts. His return from injury came in January 2020, against Stranraer. However, it appeared he’d become second-choice at that point, collecting just 48 minutes from eight league games.
We’re now four matches into the 20/21 campaign, and there is still no sign of Jones. With him appearing to be out of favour with the management, this scout report will better inform the reader as to why this may be the case, analysing his strengths and weaknesses. It will provide and make use of his statistics from this season to help do this. By doing so, we can develop an objective foundation that will allow for an accurate tactical analysis and evaluation of his ability.
Jones demonstrated his versatility to play across the forward line. He’s most effective as a left-winger. From this position, he utilises pace and ball manipulation to jink inside and create chances. The heat map above illustrates Jones’s willingness to dribble inside or to move the ball down the line for a cross.
His responsibilities include hugging the touchline to stretch the opposition, being an outlet for defenders and midfielders, progressing the ball into the final third, supplying the forward with goal-scoring opportunities, and defending against the opposition’s right-back.
At attacking corners, Jones occupies a space on the edge of the box. If Rangers lose possession, his speed enables him to keep up with and break down opposing counter-attacks. If Rangers recover possession outside of the box, the Northern Irish international’s crossing ability threatens the opposition’s defence.
During defensive corners, the former EFL player marks the man closest to the taker. His quick acceleration gives him a chance of intercepting and, failing that, he applies pressure instantly.
At attacking free kicks, Jones occupies a similar role as he does for attacking corners. His intense pressing style and his crossing ability threaten the opposition’s defence.
During defensive free kicks, Jones stands in the wall. As the ball is played, he moves forward to provide an opportunity to counter-attack. His speed and dribbling capability make him a threat to the opposition.
His position as a winger means that tactics limit his defensive responsibilities. If he loses the ball in the opponents’ half, he quickly presses in an attempt to regain possession for his team. He has had little success in this department when compared to his teammate and fellow winger Ryan Kent. Jones made 0.74 recoveries per 90 in the final third, placing him 73rd in the SPFL for this. Kent, on the other hand, made 1.71 recoveries per 90. Moreover, Jones made 1.49 counter-pressing recoveries per 90, finishing 66th in the league, whilst Kent made 2.35 per 90.
If the ball bypasses his team’s immediate press, they will regroup and get men back behind the ball. Jones’ job is to track back and prevent the opposing full-back from crossing the ball. He positions himself inside of the full-back. As a result, he makes it harder for the opposition to play through the middle.
In possession, his main responsibilities are to create and convert chances. As we’ve mentioned, he is capable of playing across the front line. As a result, Jones has excellent awareness and movement for a winger. Below, we will examine his chance creation ability, through passing and dribbling, and his chance conversion ability, through his positioning and finishing. Before we analyse the footage, let’s examine the statistics.
In terms of creating chances, we must consider Jones’s passing ability. Last season he completed a solid 75.34% of his passes. However, compared to Kent, who completes 89%, it’s an area of Jones’ play that needs to be worked on if he is to break back into the starting XI. Moreover, he attempts 6.69 crosses per 90, the highest in the league, completing 16.67% of them. As a result, he collected two assists.
Another way of creating chances is by taking on defenders. Jones is rather useful in these situations too. He’s involved in 17.85 offensive duels per 90, winning 54.17%, much higher than Kent’s 37.18%. On top of that, Jones attempts the most dribbles per 90 in the league, 14.88 to be exact, completing 52.5%. As a result, he leads the league in most progressive runs, averaging 4.09 per game, and carrying it 91.45 times per 90.
In terms of converting chances, let’s examine the statistics. To begin with, Jones is predominantly right-footed, averaging 2.6 shots per 90. Of his eight shots last season, only one hit the target, giving him a 12.5% shot accuracy. Despite this, his expected goal stat was 1.53, though converting none of them. Moreover, he makes 4.83 touches in the penalty area per 90. Whilst this is more than Kent, the Englishman has a far more superior goal-scoring record than Jones.
In summary, the stats portray Jones as a winger who loves to run at defenders and create by crossing. However, he is yet to establish a sound technical ability at Rangers, as proven with his lack of shot and passing accuracy. Below, the report will now contextualise these statistics.
Above, Jones collected the ball on the left channel. He cuts inside, dribbling past the opposing Hibernian player on the way through. As a result, former Spurs player Jermaine Defoe attempts to clear space for Jones. Instead of running at the back-line, the Northern Irishman plays a classy pass in behind the opposition. The picture above is a great example of how Jones’ ability to break lines by dribbling puts his opponents on the back foot, allowing Rangers to create overloads in the final third.
Alternatively, he’ll cut back and attempt to cross the ball into dangerous areas of the box. He has a much greater success rate crossing with his right foot than his left. In the picture above, Jones collects the ball from the left, before cutting back. Unfortunately, Rangers didn’t have an out-and-out target man to take advantage of these situations last season. However, with the addition of Switzerland striker Cedric Itten this summer, perhaps we will see the side benefit more from these opportunities.
Another massive threat that Jones brings is his ability to attack the goal-line. Constantly deceiving defenders with his quick change of direction, Jones wins free-kicks and penalties regularly for his team. The picture above provides an example of this. In this instance, he wins the penalty. However, had Jones not been brought down, he’d be in an advantageous spot to assist or score from.
This analysis has shown Jones’ strengths and weaknesses. As a winger, he possesses an excellent dribbling ability, as well as the essential attributes needed for the role, such as directness on the pitch.
Unfortunately, he has top-class competition for the starting XI spot in Ryan Kent. Although Jones is quite rough around the edges, his quality is undeniable. If he can get a run of games under his belt at Ibrox, we may start to see the dangerous player that the Northern Irish fans are much more used to.