Stats: Should Welbeck be dropped for Uruguay clash instead of Rooney?

Danny Welbeck

There has been plenty of talk about Wayne Rooney's place in the England team but should his Manchester United team-mate be looking over his shoulder as well?

A lot of the build up to England's opening World Cup game against Italy was dominated by whether Wayne Rooney should start the game or not. Now, after he played 90 minutes against Italy on Saturday night, the question is whether he should start again against Uruguay on Thursday evening.

Following England's 2-1 defeat to the Italians in Manaus, Rooney's performance has been subject to an extensive post-mortem from the press. Every little bit of it has been magnified, from his terrific cross for Daniel Sturridge's equaliser, his second-half attempt which he dragged wide which could have brought England on level terms for a second time, to the horribly executed corner late on in proceedings as the Three Lions pressed to avoid defeat in their first game.

But after the defeat to Italy should it be Rooney's starting place that is under the microscope? Let's have a look at the statistics of England's front four.

  TeamPosBig Chance CreatedTotal Scoring AttTotal CrossWon ContestDispossessedAppsMins
Wayne Rooney England FW 1 3 3 0 2 1 90
Raheem Sterling England FW 0 4 7 4 2 1 90
Daniel Sturridge England FW 0 3 1 2 2 1 80
Danny Welbeck England FW 0 1 1 1 3 1 61

Daniel Sturridge has done his job for the side in this game, right place, right time, goal. That is the job of the Liverpool striker who is in terrific form going into this World Cup, and as a result his starting place in Sao Paulo should be secure. Given that it is now a must win, it is unthinkable that the in-form striker should be dropped. For his 80 minutes on the field he put in a pretty good performance, he looked to add to his tally but also looked to create for his team-mates when he was on the ball.

Rooney's statistics, despite playing on the left-hand side are not dissimilar. You can criticise him for not being clinical towards the end of the game, but on the face of it, the numbers are close to Sturridge's, as he had three attempts on goal, his cross led to the striker's goal as he tried to create chances, and was seldom dispossessed. 

Raheem Sterling's performance seems to be the stand-out he crossed more than the other three put together and had more attempts on goal as he was lavished with praise for his 'fearless' performance, with the 19-year-old bringing some of the form that has made him such a hit with Liverpool in the second half of the season to the international stage.

On the face of those particular statistics, it would look as though Welbeck isn't making the desired contribution on the attacking front, and it is perhaps he not Rooney that should receive the criticism, and that there should be question marks over his position in the side. He was dispossessed the most, found it hard to get the better of his opponent when dribbling and didn't provide many crosses.

  TeamPosDuel WonSuccessful Final Third PassesWon TackleOverrunAppsMins
Raheem Sterling England FW 8 17 2 0 1 90
Daniel Sturridge England FW 5 9 0 1 1 80
Danny Welbeck England FW 5 12 2 1 1 61
Wayne Rooney England FW 3 9 0 0 1 90

However, it might be these numbers that back up the claims for Rooney to be dropped, as compared to the rest of the front four he seemed to lose the physical battle with his opponents. Despite being on the pitch for half an hour longer than Welbeck, he made three fewer successful passes in the final third of the field, didn't win a single tackle and won less duels - whereas his Manchester United team-mate, based on these numbers, looked busy.

Raheem Sterling is the player that stands out again as he seemed to relish the battles with his opponents and was keen to win tackles as well as making a large contribution in the final third of the field, whilst Sturridge, as the main striker, has demonstrated he can put a shift in - though his numbers are probably slightly erroneous compared to the other three given he was an advanced position.

But, overall, it seems fair that some are questioning Rooney's contribution if he isn't playing up front but maybe there should be some question marks over his Manchester United team-mate as well. The selection of both of them, along with Sterling, did raise a few eyebrows on Saturday evening. Maybe there should be a case of one of them to miss out, and perhaps Adam Lallana brought back into the starting XI. If Roy Hodgson took notice of statistics as well as what he sees on the field, he'll have a lot to think about.

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