Alexander-Arnold, Loftus-Cheek and Pope - England's World Cup squad in Opta numbers

By Dom Farrell 16 May 2018 499
Alexander-Arnold, Loftus-Cheek and Pope - England's World Cup squad in Opta numbers

Gareth Southgate has named his England squad for the World Cup, with uncapped duo Trent Alexander-Arnold and Nick Pope selected for a place on the plane to Russia.

Joe Hart and Jack Wilshere are the most high-profile omissions, while Chelsea youngster Ruben Loftus-Cheek got the nod for a midfield berth.

Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy are the centre-forward options in an attack that came together largely as expected, while versatility is the order of the day in the defensive positions.

With the help of Opta, we look through some of the numbers behind the key decisions made by Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate.

 

Why Pope and Alexander-Arnold got the nod

Thrust into the Burnley side due to an injury suffered by Tom Heaton, Pope excelled as Sean Dyche's side sealed a superb seventh-place finish in the Premier League. The 26-year-old was in a straight fight with Hart for the final goalkeeping place and comfortably outshone a man with 75 caps to his name.

Pope's higher numbers of saves and clean sheets are partially accounted for by him making 35 league appearances to Hart's 19 but he conceded every 89 minutes as opposed to 43.8. Hart's save percentage was 57.14 in 2017-18, compared to Pope's 76.51. Despite playing 16 more matches, Pope conceded four fewer goals.

Alexander-Arnold has been a revelation for Liverpool and the 19-year-old is poised to start the Champions League final against Real Madrid. The attacking full-back completed 51.3 per cent of 39 dribbles attempted, although his solitary assist lags behind Tottenham's Kieran Trippier, who set up five Premier League goals – all of them for England's premier centre-forward Harry Kane.

 

Cahill spared but faces fight to start

A year ago, Gary Cahill was lifting the Premier League trophy and considered a near-certain starter for England. Inconsistent form this term saw him dropped by club and country but 32-year-old did enough over recent weeks to get in Southgate's 23.

Leicester City's Harry Maguire is well-placed to edge Cahill out of his favoured starting berth on the left of the back three. The Chelsea man has better passing accuracy this season (89 per cent), but Maguire has bigger numbers in terms of tackles made, duels won, clearances, blocks and interceptions.

 

Loftus-Cheek over Wilshere and Shelvey for midfield spark

Loftus-Cheek made a favourable impression on his Three Lions debut against Germany last November when he was named man of the match. The 22-year-old's form across a season-long loan with Crystal Palace earned him the nod over Arsenal's Wilshere and Newcastle United's Jonjo Shelvey, both of whom had their champions.

All three midfielders supplied three assists this season, with Loftus-Cheek's two goals outstripping solitary scoring contributions from Wilshere and Shelvey.

The Newcastle man created 41 chances, more than both Loftus-Cheek (26) and Wilshere (15), although his passing accuracy (72.43 per cent) is down compared to his compatriots, with Loftus-Cheek's 82.43 per cent shy of than Wilshere's 86.39.

Shelvey also has the most interceptions (28) but, perhaps tellingly, conceded the most fouls (23) and was sent off twice.

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Dom Farrell

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