The stats which show Carrick and Gerrard are the perfect blend

Carrick

The Manchester United and Liverpool combined positively for England in their win over Poland at Wembley.

There was a little bemoaning among England supporters when Roy Hodgson decided to go with Michael Carrick ahead of the Three Lions' crucial qualifier, leaving out Frank Lampard and Jack Wilshere.

Carrick proved however he is very much a safe pair of hands, using his experience wisely he help England keep possession, with Hodgson's men winning 2-0.

In doing so they sealed qualification to the World Cup in Brazil, but whether Carrick partners Gerrard in the middle when the tournament kicks off is another question altogether.

There is very much a case they should, and the statistics from last night's game suggest the pair are an ideal blend in the centre of the park.

Carrick (66) and Gerrard (72) made more passes than any other England players. This was despite Carrick being substituted with 20 minutes to go.

Gerrard however was far more dangerous with the ball, playing six key passes resulting in goalscoring opportunities. Carrick did not play any.

The Liverpool man would go onto score England's game-sealing second goal, outlining his attacking qualities.

To dismiss Carrick as he was not an attacking threat however would be folly, for his capabilities were demonstrated in other areas.

Not only was his passing more accurate than Gerrard's - 94 per cent vs 84 per cent - in the ball winning battle in the middle he was more than useful.

Carrick made three successful tackles, with Gerrard making none. However you can reverse that fortune when looking at interceptions, Gerrard made five and Carrick none.

Gerrard's all-round game was further demonstrated by making six effective clearances, Carrick didn't register any.

What the above demonstrates is each player performing different roles effectively, bringing balance to the England team.

So often a criticism of the Lampard-Gerrard axis is they are too similar and attempt to do similar things on the football pitch, and do not gel accordingly.

When he looks forward, Roy Hodgson may well further seek to experiment with the so-often overlooked Michael Carrick alongside Gerrard, for the pair demonstrated a natural blend and understanding for players who had performed together rarely.

What do you think? Is Gerrard-Carrick a partnership worth pursuing?

image: © Andrea Sartorati

Register for LIVERPOOL team updates

Register for MANCHESTER UNITED team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch