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Ranking England’s seemingly endless full-back options using Dream Team stats

If, for some bizarre reason, Uefa decided to implement a rule that stated countries competing in Euro 2020 (2021) were only allowed to name right-backs in their squad, England would be heavy favourites to lift the trophy this summer.

Gareth Southgate has options aplenty at right-back and that doesn’t even include a host of uncapped players who almost certainly have been called up in another era: Tariq Lamptey (£1.8m), Matty Cash (£2.8m), Luke Ayling (£2.2m) and, of course, Aaron Wan-Bissaka (£3.9m).

Options at left-back are less bountiful but in Ben Chilwell (£4.1m) and Luke Shaw (£3.4m) we have a good old-fashioned face-off for the first-choice spot come the start of this summer’s tournament — James Justin (£3.8m) would have made it a three-way contest made he not suffered a bad injury.


DT x BETWAY SPECIAL: Luke Shaw and Trent Alexander-Arnold to keep a clean sheet and provide an assist each this weekend — NOW 100/!


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We’ve collated the Dream Team stats for Southgate’s main options at full-back, not including Kieran Trippier because he operates outside the realm of Dream Team with Atletico Madrid, leaving us with Kyle Walker (£4.4m), Trent Alexander-Arnold (£4.4m), Reece James (£5.0m), Shaw and Chilwell.

Dream Team points

  1. James – 152
  2. Chilwell – 140
  3. Walker – 128
  4. Shaw – 119
  5. Alexander-Arnold – 97

The Chelsea boys lead the way in the metric that really matters while Liverpool’s golden boy shows evidence of his side’s disrupted campaign.

Where would the 22-year-old be in this ranking if Virgil van Dijk (£5.1m) had been present all season?

Clean sheets

  1. Chilwell – 17
  2. James – 17
  3. Walker – 16
  4. Shaw – 15
  5. Alexander-Arnold – 12

A natural correlation here since clean sheets are the primary source of points for Dream Team defenders.

Walker has often stepped aside for Joao Cancelo (£6.0m) at right-back so it’s rather impressive he’s just one off levelling the boys from Stamford Bridge — though equally, Chilwell would be well clear had Marcos Alonso (£3.4m) not muscled in on his patch since Thomas Tuchel’s appointment.

Walker has experience on his side

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Walker has experience on his side

Assists

  1. Chilwell – 7
  2. Shaw – 6
  3. Alexander-Arnold – 5
  4. James – 5
  5. Walker – 1

Walker notably lacking in this department.

This list just shows the standard Alexander-Arnold has set for himself in recent years.

Most think Shaw is having the best season of his career to date and yet he’s just one assist ahead of Anfield’s homegrown hero, who has been labelled ‘below par’ in 2020/21.

Alexander-Arnold has 29 Premier League assists to his name in total, making him one of the most productive defenders in the league’s history in terms of creativity — at 22 years old!


DT x BETWAY SPECIAL: Luke Shaw and Trent Alexander-Arnold to keep clean sheets and provide an assist each this weekend — NOW 100/!


Goals

  1. Chilwell – 2
  2. Walker – 2
  3. Alexander-Arnold – 1
  4. James – 1
  5. Shaw – 1

Not much to shout about here but none of these players are expected to chip in with huge amounts of goals.

Southgate has some big decisions to make in defence

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Southgate has some big decisions to make in defence

7+ ratings

  1. James – 18
  2. Shaw – 14
  3. Alexander-Arnold – 12
  4. Walker – 12
  5. Chilwell – 11

As you probably know by now, our ratings are provided by WhoScored who use a stats-based algorithm to determine the positive impact of each player for the game in question.

Clearly, James’ underlying numbers are superior to his England colleagues.

Star Man awards

  1. Shaw – 3
  2. Chilwell – 2
  3. James – 2
  4. Walker – 2
  5. Alexander-Arnold – 1

Three Star Man awards from left-back is certainly not to be sniffed at and represents a tangible measure of Shaw’s efforts.

One of his Star Man awards came in the Manchester derby when he scored to end Man City’s winning streak.

Shaw provided an assist for Harry Kane against Albania

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Shaw provided an assist for Harry Kane against Albania

Ownership

  1. Alexander-Arnold – 28.2%
  2. Chilwell – 26.4%
  3. James – 9.4%
  4. Walker – 9%
  5. Shaw – 8.8%

Southgate will trust his own judgement when making the key decisions this summer but public opinion counts for something.

Despite an underwhelming season by his standards, Alexander-Arnold remains the most popular full-back among those included.

This is telling of his overall quality since bursting onto the scene — we can’t forget how influential he was in helping Liverpool to their sixth European Cup and their first Premier League crown.

As the old adage goes: form is temporary, class is permanent.

The question is: how much importance will Southgate place on form when it’s time to pick his 23-man squad?


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