If you’re looking to witness a player with supreme athleticism, endless courage combined with attacking x-factor then look no further than Charlton Athletic’s Corey Blackett-Taylor who’s simply untouchable at present.
After arriving at The Valley in August following his departure from Tranmere Rovers in the summer, Charlton’s Blackett-Taylor has well and truly found his feet at League One level – in a position few would have expected him to feature in.
Having played all across the front line in the first few months of the season under former boss Nigel Adkins, the October arrival of popular figure Johnnie Jackson sparked significant improvement with Charlton and Blackett-Taylor, who’s now blossoming in Charlton’s change of system.
During a run which saw Charlton leak 24 goals in their opening 13 League One matches, manager Jackson’s first port of call was to implement the 3-5-2 system to give the side more balance both defensively and offensively.
When playing with a back three, the attributes, characteristics and profile of the wing-backs are pivotal to provide width and attacking potency from wide areas. It’s safe to say that the position is tailor made for Blackett-Taylor who from a neutral perspective, has quickly become one of my favourite players to watch at the moment.
Athletically, Blackett-Taylor’s capabilities lie far beyond League One level. The former Walsall loanee has tormented teams with his running power and skill down the Charlton left. Blackett-Taylor’s courage to commit players and drive with the ball shouldn’t go under the radar also, while his unpredictability to run on the inside or the outside makes him a nightmare for defenders in one-v-one moments.
The numbers behind Blackett-Taylor’s 1019 minutes at left wing-back
(Blackett-Taylor’s heat map at left wing back highlights how advanced he often finds himself in this system. All data and images obtained through Wyscout)
Blackett-Taylor has attempted a staggering 11.39 dribbles per 90 with a success rate 68.2% resulting in 7.76 of those being successful. All be it at a higher level Nottingham Forest loanee Djed Spence, who’s been outstanding for Steve Cooper’s rampant Reds this season, has attempted 6.7 dribbles per 90 completing 3.69 of those successfully.
Highlighting his ability to stretch opposition defences, Blackett-Taylor averages 7.15 progressive runs per game which is the highest by a considerable distance amongst the Charlton squad. Particularly away from home, having a player who’s producing these type of numbers is invaluable if playing on transitional moments.
With Blackett-Taylor playing as advanced as a left winger out-of-possession, the 24-year-old averages 4.06 touches per 90 in the opposition penalty area higher than all of Charlton’s attack minded players this season. This again reinforces how important his role is within this Charlton side.
For someone who’s used to living moments at the top end of the pitch, the transformed wing-backs defensive numbers this early into adapting to a new position are promising. Blackett-Taylor currently averages 1.85 interceptions while winning 54.5% of his attempted 5.83 duels per 90.
When featuring as a wing-back, ball recoveries are vital. As shown from the heat map above, Blackett-Taylor often leaves a lot of space behind him when Charlton are in-possession playing high up the pitch. Opponents could identify this as a potential area to exploit by allowing someone to cheat and operate within the area when Blackett-Taylor’s marauding forward.
If the opposition are looking to capitalise on transitional moments, the reaction to losing possession is vital hence the importance of recoveries. Charlton’s flyer is currently averaging 4.42 with 2.65 of those coming in the opposition’s half.
A closer look at Blackett-Taylor’s variation in his attacking movements, one-v-one dribbling ability and his ever improving final-third actions
Still featuring down the Charlton left, Blackett-Taylor’s variety of movement is shown above. The former Aston Villa man takes up a position inside the pitch looking to run inside to out. With the qualities he possess being comfortable in-possession, Blackett-Taylor is comfortable playing inside from the touchline unlike other wing-backs who would be more comfortable hugging the touchline.
This is a more familiar movement from Blackett-Taylor. As soon as left centre back Akin Famewo receives possession, Charlton’s speedster knows what he wants to do. Possessing athleticism which few can match at this level, he’s always looking to spin in behind and receive the ball with space ahead of him which Famewo knows. Despite showing for the ball into his feet at first, Famewo delays the pass waiting for his movement in behind.
Blackett-Taylor receives possession after Charlton’s passage of play allows him to be isolated one-v-one against Doncaster Rovers right back Kyle Knoyle. The former Cambridge United defender, who flourished in League Two last season, is backing off Blackett-Taylor due to his unpredictability.
After trying to take Knoyle on the outside, Blackett-Taylor changes direction to attack the space inside his opposite number. With additional Doncaster players surrounding him, Blackett-Taylor somehow tip toes his way through a couple of challenges before pulling the ball back only for Jayden Stockley’s effort to be cleared of the line. This passage of play saw Charlton’s left wing-back initially attack Knoyle on the outside, then on the inside before finishing his run by again attacking the outside space. This again goes to show how tricky of a customer Blackett-Taylor is with the ball at his feet.
Improvement in his final-third decision making and actions
For all of Blackett-Taylor’s obvious talents, Jackson and his coaching staff deserve massive credit for the development in his game.
In my opinion, the major area’s Blackett-Taylor has improved the most since Jackson’s arrival is the improved quality of the final action along with his positional play to receive the ball as highlighted previously.
Due to the positions he takes up in advanced area’s, Blackett-Taylor’s experience of living moments in the final-third consistently has helped to improve his final action in my opinion.
For the contribution Blackett-Taylor provides in open play for the Addicks, his current return of three goals and four assists undermines the qualities he brings to the table. After gliding past a Doncaster challenge with relative ease, without lifting his head up Blackett-Taylor finds 15-goal top scorer Stockley in an assists which underlines his progression. Featuring in this role a few months prior, Blackett-Taylor lacked composure with his final action on occasion which Jackson and his coaching staff have helped to enhance.
With two games left to play in Charlton’s League One season, Blackett-Taylor will be looking to add to his numbers by building momentum heading into next season’s campaign. One thing that is for certain, Charlton have got an outstanding talent on their hands who epitomises why I fell in love with the beautiful game.