Stats Showdown: Eric Dier vs. Jordan Henderson by the numbers

Jordan Henderson and Eric Dier of England in discussion during the international friendly match between England and Spain at Wembley Stadium on November 15, 2016 in London, England.

Eric Dier is set to captain England against Brazil, but should the Spurs man displace Liverpool's Jordan Henderson as England's defensive midfielder?

Jordan Henderson and Eric Dier of England in discussion during the international friendly match between England and Spain at Wembley Stadium on November 15, 2016 in London, England.

To this point, Gareth Southgate has preferred a double pivot of both Dier and Henderson, but recent England games have shown just how much Harry Kane and Dele Alli miss a creative midfielder (for England this would be Adam Lallana) and the need to play both Marcus Rashford and Raheem Sterling.

It's clear that if England want to start thrilling fans and beating quality sides, they need to switch to 4-3-3.

That means just one defensive midfielder, so does who plays?

Since Dier entered the league in 2014, he has played 112 games in the Premier League. Jordan Henderson has managed 87 games in that same period. Dier has played 9487 minutes whilst Henderson, a more injury-prone player, is over 2000 minutes shy of that on 7476.

Attack

Jordan Henderson of England is faced by Vykintas Slivka of Lithuania during the FIFA 2018 World Cup Group F Qualifier between Lithuania and England at LFF Stadium on October 8, 2017 in...

Dier has attempted an impressive 53.26 passes per game, completing 44.76 for a completion of 84%. He's attempted 6.53 long balls, completing 3.87 at a 59% ratio.

When it comes to through-balls the Spurs man is found wanting, he's made just 0.05, completing 0.02.

It's clear that he's a decent passer, but functional at best.

Henderson meanwhile has attempted 67.84 passes per game, 56.20 of which found their target. That's 83% completion.

When it comes to long-balls Henderson has sent an incredible 8.28 balls hurtling into an opponent's half, with 4.62 finding their target. He's a long-range master. In terms of through-balls he's attempted 0.32 and completed 0.13. Henderson has created 1.51 chances per game, way ahead of Dier's 0.45.

Defence

Mesut Oezil of Germany is put under pressure by Eric Dier of England during the International friendly match between England and Germany at Wembley Stadium on November 10, 2017 in London,...

Dier has attempted 1.71 tackles per game, winning 1.32 (77%). He's made 1.57 interceptions. 0.48 blocks and an incredible 3.20 clearances.

Henderson meanwhile has attempted 2.72 tackles per game, literally more than one more a game than Dier; yet he's only won 1.91 for a completion of 70%. He's made 1.18 interceptions. 0.15 blocks and 1.48 clearances.

Verdict

Whilst Henderson is a better passer, Dier is unquestionably a better defender. He attempts less tackles but when he does he's more sturdy in the challenge, moreover his other defensive numbers are way up. In a 4-3-3 behind Dele and Lallana, this defensive power would be invaluable.

Moreover Dier's ability to play in a back three would also mean that England could seamlessly switch from a 4-3-3 to a 3-4-2-1 without making a single substitution.

That kind of tactical flexibility and defensive strength, coupled with his increased physical reliability (Henderson is never far from his next injury) mean that, whilst Dier probably won't retain the captain's armband when competitive fixtures roll around, he should definitely be England's defensive midfielder of choice.

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