Hodgson Has Some Thinking To Do
In a perfect world, football teams would be comprised of 11 players who are in the best form rather than the manager’s favourites who have been going through a never-ending slump.
EA SPORTS FIFA 15 Ultimate Team statistics have attempted to create perfection through their Player Performance Index (PPI) and picked a starting XI for England’s UEFA EURO 2016 qualifier against Slovenia on Saturday 15 November based entirely on form.
With the retirements of Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard there is a clear movement towards building the next generation of English stars ahead of major international tournaments like EURO 2016 and the team below looks a fantastic foundation.
Southampton stopper, Fraser Forster takes up his position between the sticks as a result of his top performances with The Saints this season. Despite his 47 international caps, Joe Hart is relegated to the bench as his 2.5 saves per goal are shadowed by Forster’s 3.6 and six clean sheets.
Another new face to the line-up is fellow Saint’s man, Nathaniel Clyne. The right full-back has been tipped for a move to an elite club in the past but has yet to represent England at senior international level. This season, however, the 23-year-old has been in inspired form having won 83% of his tackles and made 25 clearances, he more than deserves a place amongst Roy Hodgson’s chargers.
The central pairing of Gary Cahill and Phil Jagielka remains unchanged from the 2014 World Cup. Cahill has helped Chelsea to the top of the Premier League while Jagielka makes the grade through his attacking prowess this season having scored two goals for Everton.
However, a case could be made for Stoke City’s Ryan Shawcross and West Brom’s Craig Dawson to be the starting centre backs for the Three Lions. Both boast far better records in terms of tackles won, interceptions made and shots blocked but their PPI scores of 132 and 118 are slightly off the pace set by the England regulars.
On the left flank it is a familiar face in Leighton Baines who dons the number three jersey. The defender has become a permanent feature in the national side and he has not allowed his performances to drop over the years. This season he has managed 30 clearances for Everton and provided an impressive six assists for his teammates. Baines just pushes Ryan Bertrand, who has won 93% of his tackles this season, out of the left flank position.
Liverpool playmaker, Raheem Sterling would be the first name on the team sheet for anyone’s line-up these days and it is no different here. The flamboyant winger has performed 28 dribbles, the highest by an English wide man, in order to score three goals and set up as many.
The core of any successful team is stability in the centre of the park. Liverpool will know this as well as anyone, having had Steven Gerrard in midfield for many years, and it would seem they have new star ready to step into that role in Jordan Henderson.
Much confusion surrounded the big-money signing of Henderson by Liverpool from Sunderland in 2011 but the player has begun to prove his worth this season. Along with his three assists and impressive pass completion record of 87%, the midfielder has also managed to win 79% of his tackles. Hodgson has been experimenting with Jack Wilshere in a more holding position but it could be Henderson who turns out to be the perfect man for the job.
Mark Noble earns his spot in the starting line-up thanks to a superb start to the campaign by West Ham United. The 27-year-old would make his debut for the senior national side as a result of his 86% pass completion record, two assists and having won a large majority of his attempted tackles.
Despite Nathan Dyer’s exceptional form of late, it is Stewart Downing who beats him into the team. West Ham’s successful run is in large part due to the performances of Downing who has scored twice and assisted four. The winger is only marginally succeeded in the ratings by Sterling.
Qualifying for major tournaments relies on goals being scored and this is why it is vital to have two in-form attackers leading the line.
With Daniel Sturridge out through injury, Danny Welbeck going through a patch of poor form, and Wayne Rooney only recently coming back into the Manchester United team after suspension there have been younger players stepping up and proving their worth to the England manager.
Saido Berahino has scored seven goals in 10 appearances for West Bromwich Albion this season and, despite being born in Burundi, is the leading English scorer in the league. Berahino is most definitely a future international and someone around whom Hodgson could build a younger, more energetic unit. Not only has the youngster been deadly in front of goal but has also contributed heavily towards the side’s build up play with 86% of his passes completed.
Captain Rooney finds himself on the bench with Queens Park Rangers front man Charlie Austin stepping in to replace him. Austin has managed five goals this campaign including one against leaders Chelsea which almost saw relegation-threatened QPR snatch a point.
The bench players include: Joe Hart, Ben Foster, Ryan Bertrand, Aaron Cresswell, Ryan Shawcross, Craig Dawson, Nathan Dyer, Wayne Routledge, Frazier Campbell, and Wayne Rooney.
Data courtesy of the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index, Official Player Ranking Index of the Premier League. Pick, manage and play as your own team of stars in EA SPORTS FIFA 15 Ultimate Team. Find out more at http://www.easports.com/uk/fifa/ultimate-team #FEELTHEGAME