England returned to action for the time since March when they salvaged a 2-2 draw with Scotland in a World Cup qualifier after two stunning Leigh Griffiths’ free-kicks.
The Premier League is blessed with several international stars, but 22 of Gareth Southgate’s 23-man squad also ply their trade in what’s regarded as the world’s most competitive top-flight.
The outstanding Harry Kane, who bagged the 93rd minute equaliser at Hampden Park, finished as the league’s top scorer, but who were some of the other top English performers this term?
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We decided to construct the Premier League’s strongest XI from players who have been called up to the England national team within the past 12 months, based on key statistics for each position.
GK – Fraser Forster
With Joe Hart on loan at Torino and Jack Butland largely injured, it’s Fraser Forster who takes the goalkeeping gloves, despite making two errors directly leading to goals.
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Tom Heaton made 141 saves, 65 more than Forster, however the Southampton man kept four more clean sheets and conceded less goals per game on average (1.26).
RB – Kyle Walker
It really is too close to call for the right-back spot, but we’ve sided with Kyle Walker, even though Nathaniel Clyne has been impressive too.
The Liverpool full-back boasts a 76% tackle success rate (71% for Walker), around four more passes per game, significantly less fouls and he recovered the ball less times each match on average.
Going forward, Spurs’ 27-year-old produced more crosses per game, won 63 more duels, produced 111 accurate long balls (44 for Clyne) and provided three more assists.
CB – Michael Keane
Burnley’s Michael Keane enjoyed a fabulous return to the Premier League and the numbers suggest he out-performed the likes of Chris Smalling, John Stones and Phil Jones.
The 24-year-old made more interceptions (63), clearances (260), blocks (8), recoveries (150) and won more duels (193) than any other English centre-back, in addition to an incredible 86% success in tackling.
CB – Gary Cahill
Gary Cahill committed 34 fouls (Ben Gibson was the second-highest on just 19), but only Keane made more clearances, recoveries, interceptions and blocks than him.
Chelsea’s new captain has a 75% tackle success rate (only bettered by Keane and John Stones), he won 168 duels and scored six goals as the Blues regained the title.
LB – Danny Rose
Danny Rose claims the left-back position, but Ryan Bertrand was a close second and West Ham’s Aaron Cresswell was also in the conversation.
The Tottenham star gave away the most fouls (26), however he won 8.22 duels per game (4.5 for Bertrand) and had a tackling success of 68% (compared to Bertrand’s 62%).
Bertrand averaged 0.5 more recoveries and assisted two more goals, but Rose sent in more crosses per match (Creswell had the most) and no one played more accurate long passes than him (57).
CM – Danny Drinkwater
There’s not much to choose from between Danny Drinkwater and Eric Dier, but the former just gets into the XI after backing up his efforts in Leicester City’s title triumph.
Drinkwater made more passes per match (60.17) and recoveries (266) than Spurs’ versatile 23-year-old, as well as winning more duels and 50/50 battles.
Dier did commit less fouls, produce more long passes and have a better tackling success rate (73% to Drinkwater’s 64%), but they were both involved in two goals and each picked up six yellow cards.
CM – Jordan Henderson
Jordan Henderson partners Drinkwater in the middle of the park ahead of Jake Livermore and was in excellent form before injuries ended his season after 24 appearances.
The Liverpool skipper averaged a whopping 85.71 passes per game, won the ball back 212 times (8.83 per match) and matched Dier’s tackling success of 73%).
Henderson received the most yellows (8), but his four assists, 5.63 duels won and 6.88 accurate long passes played per match respectively are all better than any other English central midfielder.
RAM – Raheem Sterling
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Raheem Sterling both assisted seven goals, but the latter scored five more times, took 36 more shots, supplied 16 more crosses and made more passes per game.
The Arsenal man, sometimes playing at wing-back, did create two more big chances than Sterling and had a better dribbling success rate (67% compared to 56%).
No. 10 – Dele Alli
The outstanding Dele Alli is included in this stats-based English line-up mainly due to his goals (18), having scored more than Ross Barkley and Wayne Rooney combined.
The 21-year-old took 94 shots, with 47% accuracy (34% from 89 for Barkley), but Everton’s starlet did register one more assist, create four more big chances, average more passes per game and have a better dribbling success rate (63% to Dele’s 39%).
LAM – Adam Lallana
Theo Walcott took 12 more shots, scored two more goals and delivered one more cross, but Adam Lallana beats him in every other key area and has been superb under Jurgen Klopp.
The 29-year-old provided seven assists (five more than Walcott), created more chances to score, averaged over 26 more passes per match and had a marginally better dribbling success rate (60%).
England’s 2016 Player of the Year can play in advanced central midfield roles or out wide, but wherever he operates from, he is often the country’s most technically gifted player.
ST – Harry Kane
Harry Kane completes our best statistical XI after the “one-season wonder” won the Premier League Golden Boot for the second year in a row.
His 29 goals in just 30 league matches for Tottenham surpass the tallies of Jermain Defoe (15), Jamie Vardy (13), Marcus Rashford (five) and Daniel Sturridge (three).
No England striker had a better shooting accuracy (53%) or was caught offside less times than Kane, and while he missed the most clear chances (11), he recorded more assists (seven), chances created (seven) and shots (110) than any other Englishman.
He turns 24 next month, so if Kane can replicate his consistent club form at international level, he’ll be well on his way to becoming one of the best strikers in the world.
Do YOU think this statistical XI is actually England's best XI? What would be YOUR starting line-up? Have YOUR say in the comments box below!
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