Stats: Can Manchester United target be England's Coutinho this summer?

With Liverpool's great form taking them to the Premier League summit, could England model themselves on the Reds this summer?

Brendan Rodgers' side are currently five points clear at the top of the Premier League, and with the big game against Chelsea on the horizon, the Reds can all but wrap up the title with a win. The ascent under Rodgers is mostly down to the superb tactics exhibited by the former Swansea City manager, and many teams will now try to model themselves on the Reds.

With possession football mixed with devastating counter attacking, Liverpool have been outstanding in the second half of the season, and their multi-faceted approach to attacking has made them irresistible. The likes of Luis Suarez, Daniel Sturridge and Raheem Sterling have flourished under Rodgers with their speed on the break, leading to some wondering whether England could adopt a similar style.

Tactics expert Jonathan Wilson wrote this week about how Sterling's development at Anfield should make him a key player for Roy Hodgson's England side at the World Cup in Brazil this summer. In the piece, Wilson stated; "There is no direct English equivalent of Philippe Coutinho, but Jack Wilshere, if fit, could offer a more robust alternative."

Coutinho, a skilful playmaker with great balance and creativity, has been the unsung hero as the acclaim goes to Suarez, Sturridge and Sterling, but there appears to be one player in the England setup who could fill that role - Southampton's Adam Lallana, who has been linked with a big summer move to Manchester United, but do the stats back up this suggestion?


  TeamPosTotal ContestWon ContestAppsMins
Adam Lallana Southampton MF 122 68 35 2,883
Philippe Coutinho Liverpool MF 100 57 30 2,201

In order to replicate what Coutinho does for Liverpool, the player in question would need to be confident in possession and able to go past players at will. This season, Lallana has shown exactly that, attempting and winning more dribbles than his Brazilian counterpart, and their success rated of 56% and 57% are eerily similar.Few players available to Hodgson possess Lallana's dribbling ability, and the Southampton star should be given the chance to show what he can do.


  TeamPosGoal AssistTotal Att AssistBig Chance CreatedAppsMins
Philippe Coutinho Liverpool MF 7 58 12 30 2,201
Adam Lallana Southampton MF 6 65 5 35 2,883

A key part of being the lead playmaker in a team is creating chances for the forwards. In this category, Lallana and Coutinho are once again well matched until you see how many big chances the Liverpool star has created - over twice as many as Lallana. Regardless, the Southampton man has once again shown that he can be one of the finest creative players in the Premier League.


  TeamPosTotal Scoring AttOntarget Scoring AttGoalsAppsMins
Philippe Coutinho Liverpool MF 87 25 5 30 2,201
Adam Lallana Southampton MF 63 25 9 35 2,883

Whilst the goalscoring mantle will fall on the shoulders of Wayne Rooney and Daniel Sturridge in the England team, Hodgson will need contributions from midfield too. The stats show that Lallana is much more accurate in front of goal than Coutinho, getting a higher percentage of his shots on target and ultimately scoring almost twice as many goals.

The stats just go to show how well suited Lallana is to playing in 'the Coutinho role' if England do choose to emulate Liverpool's system at the World Cup this summer. It would take an uncharacteristic gamble from manager Hodgson, whose teams have mostly been hard to beat rather than expansive going forward, but with talents like Lallana and Sterling emerging, it may be time to line up as illustrated below, which imitates Liverpool's system.

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