Football (soccer) by comparison to many other sports has very little in the way of personal player statistics. This is particularly true for defenders, who don't even have the number of goals scored as a potential comparison statistic. How then are players compared? How do fans, commentators and managers agree on the players that are playing well and those that are not? For many other sports, even if you didn't watch a game, reviewing the stats will give you a fair indication of the players that did well or poorly in that game. This doesn't seem possible for Football, which means you need to watch every single game in order to judge who is doing well.
Am I mistaken? Are there useful statistics that can be used to compare players? If not, how is this normally achieved?