As Roy Hodgson mulls over his choices for his final squad for the World Cup in Brazil, we analyze who is more likely to fit into the England manager’s plans.
Southampton forwards Jay Rodriguez recently said that his club team-mate and captain Adam Lallana has gone to the “next-level” ever since his call up to the England national team and has become a better player. Lallana’s confidence has really soared in the last couple of months as the 25 year old yet again dug his Southampton team out of trouble by coming off the bench and scoring against Burnley in the FA Cup third round win.
With five months to go for Roy Hodgson to put down names for the players he would like to take with him to Brazil for the World Cup, Lallana is certainly pushing for a place on the plane that leaves with England’s hopes on it in five months’ time. Hodgson would understandably not want a lot of inexperience in his squad, and with Jack Wilshere, Steven Gerrard and Tom Cleverley seen in the England midfield on a consistent basis in the past, Hodgson must decide who he prefers between the two inexperienced internationals – 25 year old Adam Lallana and the 20 year old Ross Barkley from Everton, in his plans for Brazil.
Ross Barkley has been a revelation this season for Roberto Martinez’s Everton. The youngster has shown exactly why Everton fought harder to keep Leighton Baines at the club than Marouane Fellaini in the summer. The Toffees knew who was waiting in the wings to step up if Fellaini left, and Barkley has been that man. Comparisons with Paul Gascoigne and a tenacious younger Wayne Rooney have seen Barkley attracting interest from a host of top Premier League clubs with reports surfacing that David Moyes wants Barkley to be the answer to Manchester United’s midfield problems.
We look at both these players, who have been in superb from for their respective clubs this season and give Roy Hodgson reasons for more head scratching than usual.
PROS: Lallana’s strength lies in his ability to be an effective box to box midfielder. He is a goalscorer, a creator of goals and has that defensive ability that most modern midfielders lack. Lallana is the hub of the Southampton midfield that has impressed so many in the Premier League this season. Lallana is a versatile player who can play in multiple positions – centre midfield, left wing and right wing. He also has decent accuracy in front of goal, scoring 4 goals this season, even with an average of just 1.7 shots per game. Lallana’s passing also has greater purpose than most, with 5 assists this season, even with a relatively lower number of passes per game at 36.3. He has played 33 key passes this season, compared to Barkley’s 19. Another aspect of his defensive work that is praised is his ability to read the game and intercept passes. He has a total of 26 interceptions in the Premier League at an average of 1.3 interceptions per game.
CONS: Lallana’s weakness lies in his inability at keeping possession of the ball. It is easy to knock the ball off him or to harry the ball out of possession from him, and at 2.4 dispossessions per game, Lallana’s average is more than that of Barkley at 2 and Jack Wilshere at 1.1. Lallana is also not a good long passer of the game. He does not like to pass the ball long. He has made 22 long passes in the league this season out of 31 attempts, while Barkley has made 48 long passes out of 65 attempts and Wilshere has made 33 successful long passes out of 41 attempted.stats courtesy whoscored.com
PROS: Barkley’s clear strength is his dribbling ability. He has the knack of getting past opponents and making things happen with his skillful dribbles in midfield. Barkley averages 2.8 successful dribbles per game, higher than Lallana’s 2 dribbles and Jack Wilshere’s 1.6. This ability of Barkley’s helps in opening up defences well. Barkley is also good at long shots on goal. He has a very healthy 54 shots at goal so far in the Premier League, averaging 2.8 shots per game. Barkley is also good at drawing fouls from opponents, which is probably a corollary of his excellent dribbling ability. He has been fouled a total of 54 times by opponents (compared to 44 on Lallana and 23 on Wilshere), again averaging 2.8 fouls per game. This shows how much of a nuisance he becomes to the opposing defenders.
CONS: An obvious weakness that springs to mind is Barkley’s profligacy in front of goal. Even with 54 shots on goal this season, he has had a poor return of 3 goals this season. Such wastefulness can be attributed to his relative inexperience, but it remains a weakness all the same. Compare this with Lallana’s 4 goals from 33 shots and Wilshere’s 2 goals from 17 shots illustrates Barkley’s weakness at finishing.stats courtesy whoscored.com
Head to Head
Both Lallana and Barkley have been lynch-pins of their respective Southampton and Everton sides. While some of their strengths are similar – short passing, drawing fouls from opponents and lay-offs among them, they both bring specific qualities with them. Barkley is a better dribbler, a better long passer and has quick feet. Lallana on the other hand, is a typical box to box midfielder who scores goal, creates them, plays key passes and also is better than Barkley defensively. Lallana tracks back and is strong at intercepting passes. Lallana is also a versatile player who can play in four different positions on the park.
Lallana or Barkley?
- Goal scoring: Lallana
- Chance Creation: Lallana
- Passing Range: Barkley
- Passing Accuracy: Barkley
- Shots Taken: Barkley
- Shot Accuracy: Lallana
- Defensive Work-Rate: Lallana
Given that either of these two players will be used more in a substitute’s role at the World Cup, it makes sense for Roy Hodgson to take Adam Lallana on the flight to Brazil instead of Ross Barkley given his versatility. Barkley is still young and inexperienced, while Lallana is the captain of his club, can play in more positions than Barkley, has better accuracy offensively and better work-rate defensively. Our choice is Adam Lallana and we couldn’t quite agree more with Mark Clattenburg about the change in Lallana since becoming an international – in a good way, of course.
Our Choice: Adam Lallana
We leave you with Lallana’s solo goal against Hull City, which is sure to be a candidate for goal of the season in the Premier League.