England's Best XI | Part 2 : Midfield | Opta Stats Analysis

England's Best XI | Part 2 : Midfield | Opta Stats Analysis

With the goalkeeper and defence already chosen for England’s best XI (Full England Defence Article Here) we will now look at what England’s best midfield would be for Euro 2012.

We have again given the player who came out on top in each section of the comparison 5 points, the player who came second 3 points and the player that came third 1 point and then added up the totals.

We have used Opta statistics from the 2011/2012 season up to and including the matches that took place on Sunday 15th April 2012.

Centre Midfield

The results for the centre midfield comparison show that the older players have still got it as Steven Gerrard and Paul Scholes come out on top just ahead of Frank Lampard and Michael Carrick.

English CM Opta Stats Comparison via EPLIndex.com

Frank Lampard has scored 11 goals this season which is 6 more goals than Steven Gerrard and an impressive 8 more goals than Paul Scholes. This averages out to a goal every 195 minutes which again is better than any other player in this comparison.

As well as scoring goals Lampard also comes out on top in the amount of chances he has created for his team, as he creates a chance every 43 minutes – the joint best score in this comparison with Gerrard. This is 13 minutes more often than Scholes and Milner and 40 minutes more often than Carrick, Barry and Cleverley.

Gerrard has also created the highest amount of clear cut chances for his team as he has created one more clear-cut chance than Parker and Lampard and 2 more clear-cut chances than Milner, Barry and Carrick. This is also 188 minutes more often than Cleverley, 199 minutes more often than Scholes and 312 minutes more often than Lampard.

It is also not a surprise that Paul Scholes tops the list for pass completion percentage as he has completed 92.5% of his passes this season. This staggering pass completion percentage is 2.73% better than his Manchester United teammate Michael Carrick, 3.04% better than his other teammate Tom Cleverley and 3.06% better than Scott Parker. Scholes also wins the ball back for his team in the midfield third every 19 minutes, which is 2 minutes more often than Barry and 4 minutes more often than Parker.

As well as winning possession of the ball well in the midfield third, Scholes also rarely loses possession of the ball as he only gives the ball away every 169 minutes which is only beaten by Rodwell who loses possession every 232 minutes. Rodwell also impresses with his tackling as he has won 83.33% of his tackles this season which 1.51% better than his nearest rival Cleverley and 7.72% better than Lampard.

Michael Carrick also scores quite highly in this comparison and has the best ground and aerial 50-50 percentages. Carrick has won 9% more ground 50-50s than Scholes this season and 11% more than Parker. He has also won 67% of his aerial 50-50s this season, which is 3% better than Gerrard and 5% more than Barry who are his two nearest rivals in this statistic.

Barry also wins back possession of the ball in the defensive third more often than any other player in this comparison by winning the ball back every 30 minutes. This is 3 minutes more often than Parker and 7 minutes more often than Carrick. Although, Parker and Carrick make more interceptions per minute than Barry as Parker makes an interception every 28 minutes, Carrick makes an interception every 32 minutes, while Barry only makes an interception every 40 minutes.

Therefore, as Gerrard and Scholes score highest in this comparison they are the obvious choices for centre midfield; although a defensive midfielder may be needed to play behind them. If this is the case then Michael Carrick would get the nod as he is the highest scoring out of all the recognised defensive midfielders.

Centre Midfield Choices: Steven Gerrard and Paul Scholes

Defensive Midfield Choice (If we play 4-3-3): Michael Carrick

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Wide Midfielders

Aaron Lennon and Adam Johnson are the two clear winners in the wide midfielder comparison as both players score 27 points each, which is 14 points more than their nearest rival Theo Walcott who scored 13 points.

Adam Johnson has completed the highest percentage of passes out of all the wide midfielders this season by finding a teammate with 81.53% of his passes. This is 1.4% better than Aaron Lennon and 1.79% better than James Milner, who was his two nearest rivals.

As well as completing the highest percentage of passes this season Johnson has also created a chance for his team every 30 minutes which is 3 minutes more often than Lennon and 12 minutes more often than Oxlade-Chamberlain and Young. It is also a staggering 33 minutes more often than Walcott who took the longest amount of time to create a chance for his team out of all the wide midfielders.

Adam Johnson has also found a teammate with one of his crosses 25% of the time – the joint highest percentage with Aaron Lennon in this comparison. This is 2% better than Oxlade-Chamberlain and Downing and a very impressive 12% better than Walcott.

Aaron Lennon has created 10 clear-cut chances for his teammates at Tottenham this season which is the joint highest with Theo Walcott and Stewart Downing. Although, Lennon creates a clear-cut chance for his team more often than anyone else in this comparison as he creates a chance for his team every 118.8 minutes. This is an impressive 99.3 minutes shorter than Stewart Downing, 105.6 shorter than Adam Johnson and 137 minutes shorter than Theo Walcott.

Lennon also impresses in how long it takes him to lose possession of the ball, as he only gives the ball away once every 79 minutes. This is the best score in the comparison and is 6 minutes longer than Downing and 9 minutes longer than Young who also score highly in this statistic.

Although, Theo Walcott has not fared very well in his ball retention, pass completion percentage and crossing accuracy this season he has scored 8 goals for Arsenal. This statistic along with the fact that he has created the joint top amount of clear-cut chances in this comparison goes some way to showing why Walcott should be used as a striker and not as a wide midfielder.

Therefore, the two obvious choices for the wide midfielder positions are Aaron Lennon and Adam Johnson. However, both players have one main area where they need to improve to be all round wide midfielders. Johnson needs to improve keeping possession of the ball as he gives the ball away every 39 minutes which 40 minutes more often than Lennon, while Lennon needs to score more goals as he only scores a goal every 396 minutes which is 209 minutes longer than Johnson.

So, if both players can learn from each other and improve what they have not done so well this season then opposition defenders will be dreading facing them as they both have impressive statistics in many of the other areas in this comparison.

Wide Midfielder Choices: Aaron Lennon & Adam Johnson

The team so far (4-4-2 on left and 4-3-3 on right):


Stay tuned in the next few days for the final part: England’s Strikers and the Final Team

All of the stats from this article have been taken from the Opta Stats Centre at EPLIndex.comSubscribe Now (Includes author privileges!) See Demo’s and videos about the Stats Centre & read about new additions to the stats centre.