Opta's Alan Duffy crunches the numbers to compare the Three Lions with their Three Lionesses equivalents...
The 2015 Women's World Cup kicks off on Saturday when hosts Canada begin their campaign against China at a bleary-eyed 11pm (4pm local time, else it'd be a bit cruel). Mark Sampson's England begin their tilt at glory against France on Tuesday – a kinder 6pm, you'll be pleased to hear – as they seek to surpass the quarter-finals for the first time. But how do England's Lionesses fare when compared to their male doubles? FFT found out...
* Data includes the 2014 and 2015 Women's Super League campaigns, and the 2014/15 Premier League.
Goalkeeper: Karen Bardsley vs Joe Hart
BARDSLEY VS HART
- Appearances: 13 -- 36
- Mins per goal conc: 90 -- 95.3
- % clean sheets: 46.2% -- 38.9%
- Saves per game: 3.7 -- 2.4
- Saves-to-shots ratio: 78.7% -- 71.9%
England’s California-born No.1 has missed three of Manchester City’s WSL games this season after copping a suspension for fighting during the Citizens’ 0-0 draw with Birmingham in March. However, despite her limited game time, the experienced stopper will be hoping to shine in Canada. Since the start of the 2014 WSL campaign, the 30-year-old has posted a 78.9% saves-to-shots rate, better than any other keeper to play at least 10 games in that period. That figure trumps her England and Man City male counterpart Joe Hart, who saved 71.9% of the shots on his goal in the Premier League last season.
Bardsley has also kept a clean sheet in six of her 13 games, which equates to another league-best 46.2% of her appearances (minimum 10 games played).
That compares favourably with Hart, who kept 14 clean sheets (38.9% of his games) on his way to picking up the Premier League Golden Glove. A few shut-outs from Bardsley in Canada will help England's cause.
Centre-back: Steph Houghton vs Phil Jagielka
HOUGHTON VS JAGIELKA
- Appearances: 15 -- 37
- Goals: 0 -- 4
- Shots: 23 -- 13
- Pass success: 73.9% -- 87.5%
- Accurate ppg: 38.3 -- 46.5
- Aerial duels: 47 -- 166
- Aerial duels won: 74.5% -- 64.5%
- Tackles made: 27 -- 51
- Clearances: 118 -- 371
- Interceptions: 19 -- 57
Canada 2015 will see Houghton captain England at a major tournament for the first time, a considerable challenge not helped by the fact that the 27-year-old star has spent much of the new WSL season on the treatment table.
The commanding centre-half has made just two league appearances in 2015 since returning from a knee injury, but her precise distribution from the back has been a feature of her game throughout her career – the Manchester City player has averaged 38.3 accurate passes per game since the start of the 2014 WSL campaign. That figure is the best of any regular defender in the division and the second-best of any player overall.
Her counterpart in the men’s team, Everton captain Jagielka, averaged eight more accurate passes per game in last season’s Premier League (46.5). However, Houghton’s 74.5% success rate for aerial duels overshadows Jagielka’s 64.5% figure.
Comfortable on the ground and in the air, and a natural leader, Houghton will be key to England’s hopes of glory at the finals.
Full-back: Alex Scott vs Nathaniel Clyne
SCOTT VS CLYNE
- Appearances: 20 -- 35
- Goals: 3 -- 2
- Assists: 3 -- 0
- Chances created: 17 -- 22
- Mins per CC: 105.9 -- 143.1
- Pass success (FT): 63.5% -- 72.7%
- Cross success: 26.4% -- 15.5%
- Dribble success: 42.9% -- 50.9%
- Tackles made: 31 -- 115
- Interceptions: 42 -- 63
A forward-thinking right-back, Scott has amassed over 100 caps for England and is currently enjoying her third spell with Arsenal. Her penchant for attacking raids down the right flank has seen her directly involved in six WSL goals (scoring three and assisting three) since the start of 2014, a joint-best tally for a defender. The former Boston Breakers star has also found a team-mate with 63.5% of her passes in the final third since 2014, another league-high figure for a regular defender.
That 63.5% figure is some way behind the figure England men’s right-back Clyne posted in the Premier League last season (72.7%). However, as well as providing three more assists than the Southampton star (three to zero), Scott has also created a goalscoring chance every 105.9 minutes on average, compared to the Southampton man’s 143.1 minutes-per-chance rate. Expect Scott to spend June rampaging up England’s right flank in Canada.
Central midfield: Jordan Nobbs vs Jordan Henderson
NOBBS VS HENDERSON
- Appearances: 12 -- 37
- Goals: 5 -- 6
- Mins per goal: 200 -- 542.5
- Shots: 30 -- 34
- Assists: 1 -- 9
- Chances created: 21 -- 67
- Mins per CC: 47.6 -- 48.6
- Total passes: 547 -- 2,181
- Pass success: 73.5% -- 82.4%
- Mins per tackle: 38.5 -- 38.3
A classic box-to-box midfielder, Nobbs has blossomed into one of the WSL’s finest talents. The all-action 22-year-old – vice-captain despite her tender age – provides precious goals from midfield for both Arsenal and England. The daughter of Hartlepool United favourite Keith Nobbs has netted five goals in the WSL since the start of 2014, at a rate of one every 200 minutes – the best figure of any midfielder.
Her forenamesake Henderson – who, like her, started out at Sunderland – couldn’t match that minutes-per-goal rate in the Premier League last season, though both players have posted very similar minutes-per-chance-created rates (47.6 for Nobbs and 48.6 for Henderson).
Added to her attacking potency, Nobbs is a tenacious battler, making a tackle every 38.5 minutes on average, another almost identical figure to that of her England counterpart. Nobbs provides an all-important thrust from midfield, and her energy will be key to England’s hopes of success this month.
Attacking midfield: Karen Carney vs Adam Lallana
CARNEY VS LALLANA
- Appearances: 17 -- 27
- Goals: 6 -- 5
- Mins per goal: 234.3 -- 357.8
- Shots: 41 -- 28
- Shot accuracy: 46.3% -- 46.4%
- Chance success: 14.6% -- 17.9%
- Mins per CC: 39.3 -- 54.2
- Pass success (FT): 56.6% -- 75.9%
- Dribble success: 31.7% -- 48.4%
Creativity is key to any side’s success, and in the diminutive Carney, England have a player full of vision and guile. Adept at playing wide or in behind a striker, the Birmingham playmaker enjoyed a superb World Cup qualifying campaign, netting seven goals in eight appearances for the Three Lions.
Since the start of 2014, the Solihull-born schemer has set up a goalscoring chance for a team-mate every 39 minutes on average, the third-best rate of any player to play 10 or more games. Carney’s total of 36 chances created is three more than fellow lock-picker Adam Lallana managed in his 27 Premier League games this season. The Birmingham playmaker’s haul of six WSL goals since the start of 2014 is also one better than the Liverpool star’s top-tier total in 2014/15.
Expect Carney to provide the bullets for England’s forwards in Canada, and a goal threat of her own.
Forward: Eni Aluko vs Raheem Sterling
ALUKO VS STERLING
- Appearances: 20 -- 35
- Goals: 7 -- 7
- Mins per goal: 238.6 -- 435.7
- Shots: 55 -- 62
- Shot accuracy: 58.2% -- 53.2%
- Chance success: 12.7% -- 11.3%
- Assists: 4 -- 7
- Chances created: 41 -- 75
- Mins per CC: 40.7 -- 41.7
- Pass success (FT): 69.5% -- 76.2%
- Dribble success: 54.7% -- 44.2%
While often deployed out wide, Chelsea attacker Aluko carries with her England’s biggest goal threat, borne out by her 13 in 10 qualifiers on the road to Canada.
The Chelsea attacker has bagged seven WSL goals since the start of 2014, the joint-second-best haul in the division, while her tally of 55 shots in the same period is an outright high.
With pace to burn, the 28-year-old likes to run at opponents, embarking on a dribble every 13.1 minutes in the same period. That figure precisely matches Sterling’s dribbling rate in this season’s Premier League.
The versatile Liverpool attacker’s rate of a chance created every 41.7 minutes in the 2014/15 campaign is also very similar to Aluko’s (40.7). However, when it comes to goals Sterling doesn’t come close to the Chelsea star’s 238.6 minutes-per-goal rate, managing one every 435.7 minutes.
An exciting and direct player, Aluko may well be among the goals in Canada.
Continental continues to support the growth of women's football in England. From grassroots sponsorship and community programmes, to the FA WSL, women's FA Cup and England Women's team, Continental is committed to providing a pathway for the next Duggan, Aluko or Carney.