There isn’t long to prepare for the European Championship and as the season begins to draw to a close, this is the key time for English players to perform at the highest level, in a bid to land a seat on the plane to France.
There is the usual fear of becoming too optimistic about England’s chances, but the statistics in the Premier League show that it’s the English players who have made a real impact this season and it’s not the usual suspects either.
The performances of some of England’s footballers has been astonishing and the likes of Harry Kane (Tottenham) and Jamie Vardy (Leicester) lead the scoring chart (Kane with 22 goals, Vardy with 21) and many youngsters have shone thus far, including Ross Barkley (Everton) and Dele Alli (Tottenham).
Turning our focus to West Ham, this weekend saw a stunning display between West Ham and Arsenal, locked 3-3 at full time after an exhaustingly intense battle in the last London derby with The Gunners at The Boleyn. Andy Carroll stole the player of the match award with a terrific hat-trick over 8 minutes, the goals came across both halves in the 44th, 45th and 52nd minutes. Irons manager Slaven Bilic took advantage of Arsenal’s short defenders, like Gabriel and goalkeeper Ospina, and stuck the 6″4 giant at the spearhead of West Ham’s attack, where he was able to tower over Arsenal’s defence. Could he have a similar effect against some defences at the Euros?
Hodgson’s Options: Carroll, Kane, Vardy, Rooney, Sturridge
Against England’s best options, Carroll provides a unique attacking option. His Total Duels won stands at 44.06% and is the highest of the 5 due to his large presence in attack, this will be vital against the smaller defenders and help create more space for a faster striker like Vardy or Kane to get on the end of chances. Although Carroll only has 7 goals in 25 appearances, it is certainly the big games he is up for with 6 of his goals coming against tougher opposition (3 vs Arsenal, 2 vs Chelsea, 1 vs Liverpool). His usual problem has been injuries but this season Carroll has remained largely fit and there is also the fact he has played for England at big tournaments, scoring vs Sweden at Euro 2012 with a phenomenal header we can all remember.
Carroll’s Total Shots is the second highest (3.78 per game) whilst his Goals Scored (0.65) and Shot Accuracy (61%) hold up well against his competitors so there is plenty of reason to believe he is worthy of consideration at the very least. It is unfortunate that Carroll’s club counterparts, such as Mark Noble or Aaron Cresswell, have not found a place in Hodgson’s heart yet but there is still time for them all to earn it. Especially with a realistic shot at winning the FA Cup this year.