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Who would you include in England’s best XI? We crunch the stats to prove who should make it

by Josh Powell | October 9, 2014

The international break has arrived and with England facing relative minnows San Marino and Estonia, Roy Hodgson will be fully expected to pick up six points without too much trouble. Knowing the Three Lions however, it’s unlikely to be plain sailing. To stoke up the fire ahead of the Euro 2016 qualifiers, we’ve paid a visit to the number-crunching folk at whoscored.com and plucked out the XI Englishmen that rank highest in their overall rating for the Premier League this season. This rating takes in a cocktail of stats that would have mathematicians rubbing their thighs like Vic Reeves.

Pass accuracy, tackles, touches, dribbling, shooting, intercepting. You name it, they analyse it. And like it or not, this would be England’s XI if it was based purely on the Premier League player’s ratings this season. Roy Hodgson, take note.

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  • Get stuck into all the latest odds on England’s qualifier with San Marino here: Desktop | Mobile

A couple of quick disclaimers before we get stuck in. Firstly, the rankings on whoscored.com are based on players who have made a minimum of four appearances this season, and secondly we’re just 40 per cent hipster here on the Blog, so although you may think our 3-4-1-2 formation is ‘out there’, it is in fact purely down to the players who topped the ranking. Great players will fit to the system. Look at us – talking like the gaffer already.

A Hull of a defence

Hull duo Curtis Davies and Michael Dawson pair up at the back alongside Stoke’s Ryan Shawcross. No Englishman has made more interceptions than Davies this year (21) meaning we’d be fairly confident in his ability to read, and consequently break up the play. Nobody in the entire division has made as many clearances as Davies either (12.3 a game) although Dawson is a close second with 11.6 a game on average. Ryan Shawcross sits between them and just three players have dribbled past the Stoke behemoth in seven games. Unfortunately none of these three players made the squad this time around proving that either the wealth of footballing statistical data can be easily manipulated or Roy Hodgson is a buffoon. We’ll change our answer based on future results.

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Middle of the park

Jordan Henderson is the most creative English midfielder in the Premier League this season with  three assists and 15 key passes so we’d be hoping he’d see plenty of the ball in this mythical team. The Liverpool man also averages 64.3 passes a game (Gareth Barry is the only Englishman with more) and he has an accuracy of 87.6 per cent. Craig Gardner offers a bit of bite alongside him. The West Brom man has made 30 tackles this year, more than any other Englishman, and has chipped in with 15 fouls. You need that kind of gumption at international level. Our wing-backs have contributed three assists and a goal already this season so there’s some creativity as well as defensive cover in the shape of James Milner and Ryan Bertrand.

Dat Guy leads the line

Danny Welbeck scores

Danny Welbeck has a goal an assist in his four Premier League appearances for Arsenal, and no Englishman averages more shots per game than Dat Guy (3.3). Alongside him Peter Crouch has two goals and an assist for Stoke this season and Liverpool’s Raheem Sterling gets his favoured number 10 role. Sterling has three goals, two assists, has dribbled past opponents more times than any other English player (20) and only Stewart Downing, Cesc Fabregas and David Silva have played more key passes than Sterling (18) in the top flight this year.

  • Agree or disagree with any of this stats-based madness? Stick your own best XI’s in the comments box and put your money where your mouth is…
  • Alternatively all the latest odds on England’s qualifier with San Marino are here: Desktop | Mobile

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