As the Everton midfielder celebrates an inaugural call-up to the England squad we take a look at his statistical break-down. In particular reference to current captain Steven Gerrard and have a look at the other best passers of the ball that should potentially be in the England team.
Leon Osman at 31-years-old has finally been called up to the full England national side. To say he has finally ‘earned’ his call-up would be a mistruth as players with far less technical ability or strength of character such as Kevin Nolan, Seth Johnson and Joey Barton have all ‘earned’ their Three Lions opportunity in the space of Leon Osman’s career the loyal Evertonian has had to watch idly by as it appeared increasingly likely his opportunity would never arise.
However after Everton’s impressive start to the season Roy Hodgson has given him the call-up he deserves, even if it has come many years too late. While some will obviously argue the inclusion of a 31-year-old is not a good move in terms of the development of a future England side one argument could revolve around what he brings to the team.
Hodgson wants to catch up with the likes of Spain and Germany, even Belgium who play a possession game which involves midfield players being able to move the ball around the pitch effortlessly and Leon Osman is one of the best English players in the league when it comes to technical aptitude.
The best way to look at it would be through the stats themselves.
Leon Osman has featured in all ten of Everton’s games so far this season and been one of their most consistent performers. When you look at his passing statistics you begin to see a breakdown of what he will bring to the England team. So far in his ten appearances he has completed on average 89% of his attempted passes. Against Southampton that figure was 94%. In comparison to Steven Gerrard Osman beats him on several counts. Higher pass completion ratio, higher pass completion in the attacking third, fewer minutes per possession won, more possession won in the middle of the park. Even in areas where you might perhaps expect Gerrard to succeed he trumps him. Defensively he seems a much better player. A much higher tackle success rate of 78% to 69% goes to show that.
One area where he would be unequivocally defeated by Gerrard is in the chances created fold. Gerrard creates far more chances than Osman and this is mainly due to his will to seek possession out wide and deliver those deadly crosses into the box. If the two were in competition this would be difficult but they are not. On the same team the balancing act of these two different midfield talisman could be a huge benefit for England.
The stats remain; Osman barely ever gives the ball away, is a high percentage passer and not only this but is also adept at breaking up the play without giving away fouls.
In the Premier League only five English midfielders have a higher pass ratio than Osman’s 89.34%. Team-mate Phil Neville (90.02%), Gareth Barry (90.2%), Tom Cleverley (90.56%) and Leon Britton (92.45%) but Osman is the second highest in terms of passes going forward.
Is he the saviour of English football? No of course not but is he an experienced head who has the technique and attributes to play the football England needs to survive in international football? Yes.
Therefore he is deserving of his place in the England team and I for one hope he gets a chance to impress against Sweden.
What do you make of his call-up? And does Leon Britton too deserve a shot at the England squad?
image: © Nick Sarebi