Before the game against Chelsea, Southampton’s midfielder Jack Cork started psywar by stating that The Saints’ ace striker, Rickie Lambert is better than Fernando Torres.
[quote]Rickie has been different class for us for the last three or four years. For someone of his build, his touch in unbelievable. He is great to have in your team. Torres and Demba Ba have scored lots of goals in their careers and you don’t pay £50m for someone who isn’t any good. But if you asked who i’d rather have in my team, I’d say Rickie.[/quote]
What Cork was saying could be perceived as nothing but a usual pre-battle war dance, but not only did Lambert play superbly in that game, the talisman scored the winning goal in spectacular fashion: a curling free kick from 25 yards.
That goal was Lambert’ s 14th goal of the season and makes him the Premier League’s top scoring Englishman above Frank Lampard and Wayne Rooney, both with 12 goals.
Lambert’s achievement so far has silenced the critics that previously said that the former beetroot factory worker was too slow for top-flight football and just a lower division flat-track bully at best.
It’s true that Lambert might not possess enough pace to beat his marker, but at 6’2”, his imposing posture is a threat to any defender. What is so great about Lambert is that for a big man like him, his ball skill is outstanding. In addition to his goalscoring ability, since Mauricio Pochettino took over the helm at St. Mary’s, Lambert’s link-up play has brought the best out of the once misfiring Jay Rodriguez.
Southampton fans chanted, “Lambert for England!” last Saturday and the support for Roy Hodgson to call up the striker to England squad has been hardened. Hodgson knows that calling up a 31-year old striker is only a short-term solution as Lambert will not be around for long. It’s exactly the same with Kevin Davies’ England début a couple of years ago. But the truth is, Lambert’s posture and physical approach is unique to other England strikers, apart from, maybe, Andy Carroll.
Hodgson had 4 strikers in the last outing against Montenegro and I’m intrigued to find out how Lambert’s domestic performance compares to all four. Even though Carroll was not included in the last England squad, but I put him in comparison since his playing approach is supposedly not too dissimilar with Lambert.
English Player Goal-Scoring Stats
[table id=230 /]
Lambert has the most playing time among the top English strikers in the Premier League. Unlike Rooney and Carroll, he’s been relatively injury-free this season, and unlike Sturridge and Welbeck, he’s the first-choice starter in his team.
I’d like to throw Rooney out of the equation here because he’s a guaranteed shoe-in on the England frontline. So it’s how Lambert compares with other English forwards that should be taken into account.
Lambert has a better minute-to-goal ratio than Defoe and Carroll, two other centre forwards. His minute-to-goal ratio is worse than Sturridge’s, but not only is Sturridge often deployed wide, Sturridge’s playing time is modest compared to Lambert. Even though it’s should be noted that since he moved to Liverpool, Sturridge has found a more suitable environment for him to flourish.
His goal tally this season is impressive, but Lambert’s minute-to-shot ratio is not a world-beater. He registers 1 shot every 40 minutes and 1 shot-on-goal every 75 minutes. Hypothetically speaking, this is down to the fact that even though Lambert is a natural target-man, he’s not your usual feed-me-the-ball striker and often creates chances for other team mates.
English Player Creativity Stats
[table id=231 /]
Creativity is one aspect that Lambert could be considered outstanding. Being a central forward, Lambert has 4 assists to his name and can only be bettered by Rooney, who’s positioned a bit deeper and on-par with Welbeck who’s oftenly stationed out wide. He has the best chance-created ratio with a chance every 38 minutes, which is even better than Rooney’s.
Carroll is the other English striker whose physical approach is considered similar to Lambert, but the stats above show the difference between two strong strikers in terms of contributing to team mates.
English Player 50-50 Battle Stats
[table id=232 /]
This is the area where Danny Welbeck is appreciated the most. His ground 50-50’s win percentage and ratio says a lot about how combative Welbeck as a striker and subsequently makes him a defensive asset as a striker. Lambert’s stats on ground 50-50’s show that he’s not really involved in many ground battles considering how physical his approach may seem.
However, Lambert’s aerial prowess is clearly shown on his mid-air duels percentage where he wins 45 % of them and involved in the aerial action every 15 minutes. It’s still less impressive than Carroll’s records at West Ham, but Southampton doesn’t necessarily employ hoofball tactics so Lambert’s stats are considerable numbers.
If you combine those three aspects, we may come to the conclusion that Rickie Lambert is not only a goal-scoring striker, but also a player who creates chances for his team mates upfront, a feature that cant be rivalled by his fellow compatriots bar Wayne Rooney.
There’s a couple of moments in previous matches, most notably in Montenegro match, where England could do something with a striker with physical approach who can hold the ball and conduct good link-up play, and Lambert could be perfect man for that task. But considering how Hodgson neglected Grant Holt last year, who’s deemed similar to Lambert, maybe we’ll never know.
EPLIndex Tactics Board
A FREE tool for tacticians and bloggers!
No need to type names – drag & drop players from squads since 08/09.
More info in our blog: The Tactics Board
Or just try out the tactics board for yourself: http://www.eplindex.com/tacticsboard/
All of the stats from this article have been taken from the Opta Stats Centre at EPLIndex.com – Subscribe Now (Includes author privileges!) Check out our new Top Stats feature on the Stats Centre which allows you to compare all players in the league & read about new additions to the stats centre.[/box_light]