Looking At Left-Back Options...

Whether Roy Hodgson picks Luke Shaw or Ashley Cole is probably down to how much he trusts Leighton Baines. The statistics suggest he should look at Kieran Gibbs...

Last Updated: 25/03/14 at 16:08 Post Comment

Latest Articles

Football People On TV: Gordon Strachan

Post comment

Chippy arse? Aye...do you want some? Wee Gordie is never anything other than entertaining, even if he is wearing adult man¿s shorts as trousers. Especially so....

F365's Transfer Guide - Part Five

Post comment

Our final part, and the question of what on earth will happen at West Ham? Plus there is much to ponder for Spurs - evolution or yet another revolution at White Hart Lane...

All Articles

Following on from last week's look at the goalkeepers in the running to be in England's World Cup squad, WhoScored.com return to compare Roy Hodgson's options at left-back.

It's a position that provides one of the key decisions the manager has to make between now and June 2, when the final 23-man squad must be announced.

Realistically it seems likely to be two of three after Luke Shaw received his first senior international call-up for the recent friendly against Denmark. The teenager, therefore, is ahead of the likes of Kieran Gibbs and Danny Rose in the pecking order, but the question remains as to whether he can oust either Leighton Baines or Ashley Cole.

A preliminary glance at WhoScored.com's statistical ratings suggests that the Southampton full-back has every chance. With an average of 7.08 this season the 18-year old ranks second of all English left-backs in the Premier League behind the aforementioned Baines.

The Everton man has a clear lead in this regard, with an average rating of 7.26 in advance of his 11-year-junior counterpart. Kieran Gibbs is not far behind Shaw with a score of 7.01, while Tottenham's Danny Rose is closer still to the Gunner, with an average of 6.98.

The gap between Rose and Ashley Cole, fifth here, isn't too alarming, but the Chelsea man's rating of 6.89 is a considerable drop from the likes of Shaw and, in particular, Baines. A lack of playing time will of course hinder the England veteran, but can you really drop a player that has perhaps been the most consistent for the Three Lions over the last decade and rarely disappoints when called upon?

England's group opener against Italy may well have the biggest say on Hodgson's left-back choices. He must decide whether Baines or Shaw can cope with the defensive demands that will be needed in their first two fixtures, with both better known for their input from an attacking perspective.

Baines has actually averaged the most tackles per game of the top rated five here (3), ahead of Cole (2.5), while Shaw is bottom of the pack (1.9). The Everton man drops to the bottom when it comes to interceptions (1), however, with Shaw just ahead (1.1) but still a some way down on the likes of Rose (2) and Gibbs (1.8), whose solid figures in both categories are notable.

Indeed Gibbs, who like his predecessors at Arsenal - Cole and Clichy - was initially seen as an attacking full-back, is arguably the strongest here from a defensive sense when looking at the stats and the weakest - along with Cole - when going the other way. If there is an obvious and in-form replacement for the long standing England left-back in terms of playing style it is, perhaps, the Arsenal man.

It's little surprise that Baines is ahead when it comes to chance creation, with 1.3 accurate crosses and 1.4 key passes per game. His closest rival here is not Shaw, however, but Danny Rose. Indeed, the teenager's attacking game is by no means the complete package, but what he does offer is an ability to stretch the play with his pace, particularly in possession.

If Hodgson wants a player to be able to carry the ball forward at speed against the likes of Uruguay and Costa Rica, who are likely to be a little more open, then Shaw certainly holds such a threat. His average of 1.4 dribbles per game is highest of the five, with Ashley Cole averaging just 0.3, in comparison, this season.

Statistically at least, it seems that Baines is Hodgson's most well-rounded option and he's likely to be ahead of the rest right now. The England manager's problem is that the two that are likely to be vying for the second left-back spot couldn't be more different.

If Hodgson is comfortable with Baines' defensive capabilities against the likes of Italy, Uruguay and whomever they may potentially face pending qualification from the group than Shaw is an attacking option should he be chasing the game. However, if there's any doubt in his mind that the Everton man can do the job in a tough group then Ashley Cole will likely get the call. That said, Kieran Gibbs' defensive displays this season would perhaps merit a place ahead of the out-of-favour England centurion.

Decisions, decisions.

Martin Laurence - follow him on Twitter.

All statistics courtesy of WhoScored.com, where you can find yet more stats, including live in-game data and unique player and team ratings.

Football365 Facebook Fan Page

The Football365 fan page is a great place to meet like minded people, have football related discussions and make new friends.

Most Commented

Readers' Comments

B

enteke is an absolute steal for £32.5m, he would get into any team in the world (except Barcelona) at the moment. I've seen many very good strikers in my 30+ years as a Villa fan. This guy is the best without question.

sparkigol
Benteke's £32.5m release clause

A

ll he wants are sharks with frickin lazers on their heads. Is that too much to ask?

mufc phil
Bomb threat on FIFA D-day

W

hy is the dinosaur trying to hold on to this.... Just leave... No one wants you in this position you corrupt loser. Let someone else take over....

arsenal121
Defiant Sepp blames minority

Latest Photos

Footer 365

Angry FIFA president Sepp Blatter hits out at 'hate campaign'

Newly-elected FIFA president Sepp Blatter has launched an attack on the US justice authorities and English media.

Sepp Blatter: I'm still the man to solve FIFA's problems

Sepp Blatter has insisted he is "still the man" to lead FIFA after winning a fifth presidential term.

Rio Ferdinand announces his retirement from football

Rio Ferdinand has announced his retirement from professional football.

Mail Box

Players Must Stand Up For Qatar Boycott

Players, not bureaucrats, hold the key to boycotting Qatar. Also in the afternoon mailbox: Wenger is right to rotate, Zlatan can dribble, and it's Barca v Ajax in the budget final...

What Would You Do If You Were Blatter?

Step into Sepp's shoes, is the invitation from one mailboxer. Also: United already have their new number one, Rodgers deserves time, and the best Budget XI so far...

© 2015 Sky Ltd. All Rights Reserved A Sky Sports Digital Media company