England’s squad for their summer friendlies with the Republic of Ireland and Brazil were revealed yesterday and the one position that is up for debate more than any is the 2nd striker role.
Although there is the possibility of Roy Hodgson only choosing one striker, having watched Hodgson in charge of West Brom last season and his reputation throughout his career, it is far more likely that England will line up with two up front, particularly in the home fixture with the Republic of Ireland.
Despite his indifferent form and the controversy at Manchester United with a rejected transfer request, Roy Hodgson said ahead of the squad announcement that Rooney remains his number one option up front, whether that be in the traditional Number 9 role or a slightly freer, deeper role. Which role he fills is obviously dependent on his partner.
The four options at Hodgson’s disposal are Andy Carroll, Daniel Sturridge, Jermain Defoe and Danny Welbeck. Theo Walcott could also be used in a more advanced role as he is part of the squad, but with the other midfielders named in the squad, it looks as if Walcott will be asked to play on one of the wings.
So, who should Hodgson choose to partner Rooney against the Republic of Ireland? England’s last fixture was on the 26th March so I’ve examined the form of the 4 options since that point as the England boss has previously stated he would pick players on form.
Andy Carroll has played 6 games since England’s 1-1 draw with Montenegro and in those 6 games, Carroll has bagged 4 goals for West Ham which is of course a very impressive statistic. In those 6 games, Carroll also has one assist and has created 4 other chances for his team-mates in that time.
In that time, Carroll has played a total of 540 minutes. In that time he has had 23 shots(Left Foot, Right Foot and Headers) with 10 of them being on target. This means Carroll averages a shot every 23 minutes, with a shot on target every 54 minutes and a shot accuracy of 43%.
It’s somewhat ironic that many consider Liverpool to lack depth up front when they have two of the most form English strikers on their books, even if Carroll is on loan at West Ham United this season.
Like Carroll, Sturridge has played 6 games since England’s last game. In those 6 games, Sturridge has 6 goals including a hat trick in his most recent appearance against Fulham. Sturridge also has one more assist than Carroll, having laid on goals for a team-mate against Newcastle and Chelsea.
Sturridge has had less minutes on the pitch during time, having played 465 minutes in these 6 games. He has registered 27 shots during that time, with 14 of those hitting the target. This means Sturridge averages a shot every 17 minutes, with a shot on target every 33 minutes and an impressive 52% shot accuaracy.
Defoe has had his issues with injury since England’s last game whilst Emmauneal Adebayor finding form in recent weeks has prevented him from getting serious first team action, only playing 243 minutes in the 5 games he has played, playing the full 90 in two of these games. In that time, Defoe only has one goal with only 4 shots in that time period with the goal being the only shot that has found the target in that time. Defoe also has 0 assists in that time.
Therefore, Defoe has a shot accuracy of 25%-something even I can work out without a calculator! It takes Defoe 60 minutes to have a shot and obviously 243 minutes to have a shot on the target.
The final option is Rooney’s Manchester United team-mate Danny Welbeck. His main issue this season is that he has struggled to find a regular place in the team, completely understandable considering his competion and the form of one of them in particular, Robin Van Persie.
Like Defoe, Welbeck has 5 appearances to his name but 2 starts, meaning only 186 minutes on the pitch during that time period. Welbeck has 0 assists and 0 goals. He has managed only 3 shots in the 5 appearances, with two hitting the target which is a shot accuracy of 67%(Rounded up), averaging a shot every 62 minutes.
Although I will base my pick for Rooney’s strike partner on recent form, it is also worth showing the fortunes of the 4 strikers throughout the whole season.
The top goal-scorers over the season are Jermaine Defoe and Daniel Sturridge with 11 goals each(Sturridge has one Premier League goal for Chelsea this season). However, Sturridge’s impressive recent record for Liverpool makes him my choice to partner Wayne Rooney for England against the Republic of Ireland. If Rooney is given a freer role as expected, it will be similar to the type of role that Luis Suarez plays at Liverpool, something that has certainly has helped Sturridge who has formed a good partnership with Rooney.
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