With less than 100 days to go before the World Cup in Brazil, Roy Hodgson, like all international managers will surely be starting to put the final touches on his World Cup squad.
Last week's round of international matches will give Hodgson et al. another chance to run the rule over the various players vying for a place on the plane. In England, one of the players that has dominated the headlines is midfielder Tom Cleverley and his inclusion in the England squad to take on Denmark at Wembley.
Most commentators and fans are unanimous in their damnation for Cleverley's role in Manchester United's shocking season. Cleverley came out in defence of his role in the team claimed that the making of him the scapegoat for United's season was grossly unfair. Now opinion and emotion are never good benchmarks for the real picture so we looked at the stats to see what they would reveal. To make it more interesting we also looked at the stats of two other English midfielders who had not been picked for the squad for the game against Denmark - Swansea City's Jonjo Shelvey and Aston Villa's Fabian Delph.
Starting from the beginning with the bread and butter of an attack minded midfielder - attacking actions. Out of the three players, Cleverley ranks in the middle of the three players in terms of both quantity and quality. Interestingly, Shelvey far outranks the United man when it comes to good attacking actions.
When it comes to creating chances per game, Cleverley is again between the two players although the number of chances created is significantly behind Shelvey and slightly behind Delph. Shelvey is the stand out player in this regard with more than double the number of attempts than both the other players. When it comes to actual chances created. He also manages to create 1 chance per game - something that Cleverley only manages, on average, to do every 5 games.
As for individual skill, Delph is the stand out player here both in quality and quantity. Cleverley undertakes less dribbles than Shelvey but his are a higher quality than the Swansea man.
In a previous post we discovered how Manchester United have crossed the ball more often than any other team in the Premier League this season, but despite this, Cleverley actually crosses the ball considerably less than any of the three players examined. In fact, he only crosses the ball, on average, every 2 to 3 games. Shelvey, yet again, far outstrips the other players both in number of crosses as well as the percentage of good crosses.
Shelvey also gets more shots on goal per game than both Cleverley and Delph combined although, Cleverley does have a slightly higher rate of shots on target and shots that are dangerous. Delph is, by far, the weakest player in this department.
As a midfielder, you are also required to help out in defensive duties and here Delph tops his fellow Englishmen. There is not much to separate the three players when it comes to good defensive actions and bad defensive actions.
As we can see from the above information, Cleverley should be a very worried man as there would be complete justification, based on the stats, to include Shelvey in the full England squad at the expense of the United man.
For more, visit blog.sportsmatrix.com.