England v Holland – Wembley Stadium – 29 February 2012

England host Holland at Wembley in their first international friendly this year. A ‘transitional’ England team take on World Cup finalists Holland on Wednesday, 29th February 2012, kickoff at 8pm GMT.

The game marks the first (and probably the last) time Stuart Pearce will be managing the senior England side. There has been a lot of controversy around the England team of late, and the managerial vacancy doesn’t help either, but it does a great job of lowering expectations amongst the media and if there’s one thing each and every ex-player has commented on, it’s the intense media scrutiny that gets to the players when they’re on England duty.

Will low expectations help England against Holland (no one thinks England can really win this)? If things keep going as they are, the expectations will be even lower come Euro 2012.

England Squad for Holland Friendly

Goalkeepers: Scott Carson (Bursaspor), Joe Hart (Manchester City), Robert Green (West Ham United).

Defenders: Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Ashley Cole (Chelsea), Leighton Baines (Everton), Glen Johnson (Liverpool), Phil Jones (Manchester United), Micah Richards (Manchester City), Chris Smalling (Manchester United).

Midfielders: Gareth Barry (Manchester City), Stewart Downing (Liverpool), Adam Johnson (Manchester City), Steven Gerrard (Liverpool), James Milner (Manchester City), Scott Parker (Tottenham Hotspur), Ashley Young (Manchester United), Theo Walcott (Arsenal).

Forwards: Fraizer Campbell (Sunderland), Daniel Sturridge (Chelsea), Danny Welbeck (Manchester United).

It was a disappointment not to see Michael Carrick picked on the back of his good form for United (certainly playing better than half of the other midfield players selected). No surprises in the rest of the picks except for the inclusion of Frazier Campbell and Adam Johnson – this is as ‘standard’ a England squad as you’re likely to get. How they line up could yet prove more interesting – assuming Pearce goes for youth over experience.

Since he’s also angling for the Euro 2012 job in case Redknapp doesn’t commit, Pearce will want to win. And in England, despite what Manchester United fans will tell you, no one tries to win with kids.

And no, no captain has been picked yet. It’ll be Gerrard, obviously.

Holland Squad for England Friendly

T Krul (Newcastle), M Stekelenburg (Roma), M Vorm (Swansea); K Boulahrouz (Stuttgart), J Bruma (Hamburg), J Heitinga (Everton), J Mathijsen (Malaga), E Pieters (PSV Eindhoven), R Vlaar (Feyenoord); M van Bommel (AC Milan), U Emanuelson (AC Milan), N de Jong (Man City), S Schaars (Sporting Lisbon), W Sneijder (Inter Milan), K Strootman (PSV), R van der Vaart (Tottenham), G Wijnaldum (PSV); K Huntelaar (Schalke), O John (FC Twente), L de Jong (FC Twente), D Kuyt (Liverpool), L Narsingh (Heerenveen), R van Persie (Arsenal), A Robben (Bayern Munich)

Dutch Strikers Have Upper Hand

Ahead of Wednesday night’s friendly, Castrol EDGE Performance data shows that the Netherlands’ strike force has been more prolific than England’s this season.  Between them, Robin van Persie, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Dirk Kuyt have scored 42 league goals – far more than the 17 that Danny Welbeck, Daniel Sturridge and Ashley Young have amassed.

Whilst Robin van Persie’s average of a goal every 98 minutes will come as no surprise to followers of the Premier League, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar has been in similarly impressive form in the Bundesliga.  He is currently the league’s joint top scorer, and his shooting accuracy (68%) and chance conversion rate (32%) are actually superior to van Persie’s (56% and 24%).

Of the English strike force, Danny Welbeck has been the most clinical. Although the Manchester United hit-man has only six league goals to his name, a shooting accuracy of 64% will help England to compensate for the notable absence of Wayne Rooney. Daniel Sturridge has also been in impressive form, with a 17% conversion rate and firing a shot on goal every 29.5 minutes.

The Netherlands will also have to cope with the wide threat of Ashley Young, who creates an average of one chance every 43 minutes.  Nevertheless, this is inferior to both Robin van Persie (35.8 mins) and Wesley Sneijder (29.1 mins), suggesting that Stuart Pearce’s defence will have to be on top form on Wednesday night.

England v Netherlands strikers – League data 2011/12

Prem & Bundesliga 11/12 Danny Welbeck Daniel Sturridge Ashley Young Robin van Persie Klaas-Jan Huntelaar Dirk Kuyt Wesley Sneijder
Team Manchester United Chelsea Manchester United Arsenal FC Schalke 04 Liverpool Internazionale
Appearances 20 20 15 26 22 22 13
Minutes On Pitch 1,335 1,536 945 2,254 1,909 1,358 815
Goal Attempts
Goals 6 9 2 23 18 1 1
Mins per goal 222.5 170.7 472.5 98.0 106.1 1358 815.0
Mins per Shot 37.1 29.5 47.3 23.7 34.1 59.0 24.0
Shooting Accuracy 64% 50% 55% 56% 68% 43% 50%
Chance Conversion 17% 17% 10% 24% 32% 4% 3%
Goal Assists 2 2 6 8 4 1 3
Mins per chance created 83.4 76.8 43.0 35.8 65.8 54.3 29.1
Mins per Pass 2.8 3.3 2.3 3.1 3.6 1.9 1.3
Pass Completion % 84% 83% 85% 78% 76% 77% 82%
Mins per Dribble 40.5 34.1 41.1 43.3 51.6 71 29.1
Dribble Completion % 48% 44% 39% 60% 41% 47% 43%

The comparison becomes uniquely depressing when you consider the international pedigree of strikers in both teams. Danny Welbeck and Daniel Sturridge are expected to start up front for England, with Frazier Campbell in reserve. Between them England’s three strikers on Wednesday have four caps and zero goals; for the Dutch, Robin van Persie, Dirk Kuyt and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar have a combined 194 international appearances, with 79 goals.

Joe Hart and Maarten Stekelenburg: two of Europe’s finest

Since making his competitive debut for England in September 2010, Joe Hart has been widely touted as one of the best goalkeepers in the world.  However, Castrol EDGE Performance data shows that Netherlands goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg has been more impressive during the EURO 2012 Qualifiers.

In qualification, Stekelenburg had a save rate of 87.5%, which was far superior to Hart’s 68.75%. The Netherlands stopper was also the busier of the two keepers, making 14 saves in six matches compared with Hart’s 11 saves in 8 matches.

Nevertheless, Hart’s form in the domestic league arguably demonstrates his superior credentials.  In 26 games, Hart has kept an impressive 12 clean sheets at a save rate of 79.12%, thereby helping Manchester City to remain at the top of the Premier League.

Joe Hart and Maarten Stekelenburg: league and EURO 2012 Qualifiers records

Player Hart, Joe Stekelenburg, Maarten
Games Played 26 22
Total Goals Conceded 19 29
Goals Conceded (out box) 2 1
Saves 72 63
Save Percentage 79.12 68.48
Clean Sheets 12 6
Penalties Faced 2 4
Penalties Saved 0 0
UEFA EURO 2012 Qualifiers
Player Hart, Joe Stekelenburg, Maarten
Games Played 8 6
Total Goals Conceded 5 2
Goals Conceded (out box) 3 0
Saves 11 14
Save Percentage 68.75 87.50
Clean Sheets 5 4
Penalties Faced 0 0
Penalties Saved 0 0
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