Football

Leighton Baines: England's first choice left-back?

Baines has had an impressive season at Everton (©GettyImages)
Baines has had an impressive season at Everton (©GettyImages).

Leighton Baines has produced stellar performances this season, safeguarding the Everton back-line and supporting attacks with magnificent creative ability.

He has clearly been the outstanding left back performer in the Premier League this season yet he is still not assured a starting place in the England national team line-up.  The reason being is that Ashley Cole has cemented his place in the England Team since 2001 and he is difficult to budge.

At the age of 32 he still possesses world class ability, lots of experience and a great knowledge of the game which makes Baines task daunting. However it is of my opinion that Leighton Baines can be the new national hero and should be swiftly adopted as the new England left back in international football. 

Firstly, Leighton Baines has shown outstanding ability that cannot be afforded to be ignored by the English team setup. Baines has fantastic energy and good pace which is testament to how he continuously gets up and down the left side off the field each Premier League weekend for Everton. In Comparison Ashley Cole is losing pace and as a result focuses more on his defensive game as an effort to compensate for his failing attacking instincts.

From a purely defensive standpoint both players possess great ability. Ashley Cole has improved considerably over the years in this area and his wicked clearances and exquisite tackles are characteristic of his great defensive play. However Baines has also shown the same abilities in timing and executing tackles in addition to being able to help clear the ball from dangerous positions and immediately go and help with an Everton attack. 

This style of play cannot be requested by a player who is over thirty. With tired legs and less energy older players have to conserve their efforts in order to get the maximum out of their playing ability. Baines faces no such problem as he has youth and vitality on his side and should be given a license to use these his tremendous ability in the England setup.

A case can be made from an attacking perspective that Baines is far superior to Cole due to his excellent crossing ability, great pace and magnificent ball control. These attributes supply him with the ability to be extremely creative when up near goal, creating 116 chances for Everton this season which is more than any other player in European Football’s top five leagues.

In addition to this he is a brilliant, set-piece taker consistently taking free kicks for Everton and frequently getting on the score sheet. He has scored two penalties for Everton this season. In light of the facts it is difficult to see how Cole can compare.

He has scored a single goal this campaign, compared to Baine’s five and the amount of chances that he has created this season are far inferior to Baines. Added to this the argument made beforehand that he simply doesn’t possess the legs for defensive  to attacking transitions it seems Leighton Baines should be the only contender for the left back role.

In spite of these arguments critics may argue that Ashley Cole has the paramount tool,

experience. He has just earned his 100th England Cap and with experience comes a knowledge and reading of the game that younger players simply don’t have. My answer to that is the only way Leighton Baines will gain this much revered possession is by giving him experience in the first team. 

He has played very minute of Premier League football this season and should be given the chance to earn this experience on the international scene.

 

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Topics:
Leighton Baines
Internationals
Football

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