Aston Villa stars Jack Grealish and Tyrone Mings deserve to start for England against the top seeded team, Belgium, and truly test themselves.
Words: Regan Foy | @findfoy
Aston Villa’s senior England internationals in Jack Grealish and Tyrone Mings should be given starts against the World’s number one seeded team in Belgium tomorrow, despite both being involved in the Three Lions 3-0 win against British rivals Wales.
Jack Grealish impressed the country with a worthy display, and picked up an assist in England’s opening goal as he crossed the ball into debutant Dominic Calvert-Lewin, who headed with a poacher’s instinct into the back of the net.
Despite carrying a slight injury from Aston Villa’s Liverpool game, Grealish was voted unanimously the Player of the Match in his first senior start for England – something that will hold him in good stead moving forward despite the reluctance of Gareth Southgate to heap praise on the Villa captain.
Whilst Grealish was subbed off, Tyrone Mings found his way onto the pitch in the 58th minute, replacing Liverpool’s Joe Gomez, before he too picked up an assist, rising the highest at the end of a corner and heading it into the path of Danny Ings, who produced a spectacular bicycle kick past Wayne Hennessey in the Wales’ net.
Before the game, the press and Southgate referred to the line-up as ‘experimental’; with the likes of Eric Dier, Jordan Henderson, Harry Kane, Harry Maguire, Marcus Rashford, Kyle Walker and Raheem Sterling all left out of the matchday squad. This means that these players are more than likely going to play against Belgium on Sunday – and potentially ahead of Aston Villa’s serial assisters in Jack and Tyrone.
Jack is up against England regulars Marcus Rashford and Raheem Sterling, neither of whom appeared against Wales, and England new-boy Harvey Barnes for the starting role on the left. Comparing them in the Premier League’s start this season leaves only one conclusion – that Grealish is a man in form, and performing better than all of his competition for the left-wing role.
Whilst Jack has expressed that he’s happy to play as a left-winger, a number ten or a number eight in Southgate’s set-up, and professed that he is just eager to play, as a left-winger, his numbers are ahead of his rivals.
The Aston Villa captain has six goal contributions in three games, picking up three goals and three assists against Sheffield United, Fulham and Liverpool respectively. He has also created more chances than Barnes, Sterling and Rashford – with ten.
Not only this, but the Birmingham-born Villan has attempted and completed more passes and forward passes in his 270 minutes on the pitch, whist also winning the most fouls of his compatriots with ten. Jack only falls short in one area, which is take-ons completed, which Harvey Barnes tops with nine. Despite falling short in this area, he registers similar take-on numbers to Rashford, with five, and Sterling, with six.
With Tyrone Mings, it’s harder to separate him from his rivals – but as a natural left-sided centre-back, he does that himself by making himself an anomaly within the selection. As part of currently one of the best defences in the league, Tyrone is part of a defence that has conceded the least amount of goals in the Premier League (2), with rivals Maguire, Coady, Keane and Joe Gomez conceding a combined 34 goals.
Each of the centre-backs in the England squad has their quite obvious strength. Harry Maguire is an exceptional header of the ball, Michael Keane is an accomplished passer at short range, Conor Coady is known for his deft long ball passes, and Joe Gomez is strongest on the ground.
Mings hosts the worst passing accuracy amongst the five centre-backs, but even then is not far away from his peers. Where Mings does excel, is in a wide-range of defensive responsibilities.
The Aston Villa number 5 runs Joe Gomez close in terms of the number of duels he has been involved in, but trumps the entire selection in regards to how often he is successful in them at 62.5%. As well as this, the defender has managed more clearances and more blocks in the Premier League this season according to Opta, whilst also harbouring the second-best Aerial Duel Success rate amongst England’s centre-backs with 76.47% (compared to Maguire’s goliath 88.89).
It’s also key to take into account how often centre backs are dispossessed – a large cause of goals in the Premier League – and Mings’ numbers are amongst the best, losing possession the second lowest amount of times behind Michael Keane’s 26.
For Tyrone, it’s different, as he would compliment any of the other defenders in a partnership – whilst Grealish is forced to prove himself as better than a select few players who are all vying for the same position.
Both deserve the opportunity to impress after appearances against Bulgaria and Wales and Denmark and Wales respectively – especially on current form, international appearances and contributions, and to see both players up their game against top opposition.