Roy Hodgson gave Arsenal left back Kieran Gibbs a rare start for England against Group E minnows San Marino.
It is a hint at what could be the future for England, with the Gunners star growing over the last couple of seasons of league football, and Baines underwhelming at this summer's World Cup.
With Baines turning 30 this December, it's very possible he may not be in the picture for the next World Cup campaign in Russia, and Gibbs is very much the pretender for the Everton man's throne alongside Manchester United's Luke Shaw.
Though Sunday's game with Estonia will be a better indicator of how close Gibbs is to seizing Baines' spot, it is worth taking a look at the Premier League statistics so far this season to see who deserves that number three shirt.
|Team||Pos||Goal Assist||Touches / apps||Poss Won Def 3rd / apps||Accurate Pass / apps||Apps||Mins|
Baines seems to be a much bigger offensive threat than Arsenal's Gibbs, with his three assists courtesy of strong set pieces supported by a higher number of accurate passes and touches per game. Additionally, the Liverpudlian has been more successful at winning back possession in his defensive third than Gibbs.
|Team||Pos||Won Dribble / apps||Ground Duel Won / apps||Won Tackle / apps||Interception Won / apps||Apps||Mins|
Even though Everton have far a inferior goal against record than Arsenal, Baines posts higher defensive stats than the Gunners fullback. In fact, it may be, because with 16 goals conceded, Everton are the worst defensive side in the league, that Baines trumps Gibbs in almost every area. The former Wigan man is more accomplished at dribbling past his opponent, winning ground duels for possession and winning tackles than his England teammate, with Gibbs impressing with his Premier League interceptions.
For the time being at least, it looks like Kieran Gibbs may still be playing second fiddle to Leighton Baines, but if Hodgson is tempted to look at the performance of Arsenal as opposed to Everton, he may just plump for the 25-year-old Londoner.