Everton's John Stones trumps Tottenham's Eric Dier in battle of the England U21 defenders

England U21 team-mates Eric Dier and John Stones face off on Sunday at Goodison Park.

A Tottenham Hotspur win against Everton this Sunday, combined with a Liverpool failure to get all three points at the Britannia against Stoke City, would see Spurs leapfrog The Reds into fifth spot.

Goodison hasn’t been a happy hunting ground for Spurs in recent years, though, with their last victory coming way back in the 2006-2007 campaign, and a key factor in the outcome of Sunday's game will be the performance of two of England’s most promising young defenders.

Eric Dier has enjoyed a solid start to life in England, establishing himself as a first-team regular at both centre back and right-back, while John Stones has performed well at the heart of Everton’s defence in what has been a difficult season for the Toffees.

Taking a look at some of their season stats, however, it’s apparent that Stones has outperformed the Tottenham man in a number of key areas.

  Error Leading To GoalTackles WonShots BlockedEffective ClearanceInterceptionAppearances
Eric Dier 3 38 11 107 47 27
John Stones 1 26 23 134 35 22

Dier has made three individual errors leading to goals, compared with Stones' one. It must be noted that a large chunk of Dier’s performances have come at right-back, a position that the player himself has said in the Telegraph isn’t his preferred one, which could be leading to hesitancy in certain situations.

Both are ball-playing centre backs comfortable in possession, with Stones boasting an impressive 89% pass accuracy compared with Dier’s 79%. Again, Dier’s appearances at right-back mean his passing is likely to have been more adventurous, thus more likely to be unsuccessful, so this particular stat doesn’t tell the whole story.

In terms of one-on-one duels, Stones comes out on top by winning 69% of his, with Dier only managing to prevail 61% of the time. Aerial duels show a similar performance, with Stones successful 64% of the time in the air and Dier just 60%.

Stones has also made 12 more blocks on shooting attempts and 20 more effective clearances in five fewer appearances than Dier. Whether this is due to defensive awareness or overall team performance is hard to say.

While Stones appears to have had the upper hand this season, there is no doubting Dier's quality and potential. It's not unreasonable to suggest that come Sunday, we may be witnessing both halves of England's centre-back pairing for many years to come.

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