Tyrone Mings due for England redemption amid Aston Villa surge after year in wilderness as Harry Maguire falters
Tyrone Mings must be in line for an England recall after a year in the wilderness when the latest squad is announced on Wednesday (24 May) thanks to his role for a surging Aston Villa under Unai Emery.
Since Gareth Southgate switched to playing a back four on a regular basis for the World Cup he has started deposed Manchester United captain Harry Maguire alongside his City rival John Stones ever since.
The Villans centre-back was ditched from the Three Lions set up shortly before a miserable start to the club campaign under Steven Gerrard which saw him stripped of the armband in favour of John McGinn, but since the ex-England skipper was sacked and replaced by Emery those struggles have become a distant memory.
Although he was back in the side under Gerrard thanks to Diego Carlos’ injury he has been central under Emery, having played every single minute in the Premier League barring the defeat at the Etihad on 12 February, losing only five times in 23 games, while winning 14 times and keeping nine clean sheets as Aston Villa put themselves in position to qualify for Europe with one game left.
Comparatively, since losing 3-1 to Villa in Emery’s first game in charge on 6 November United have only started Maguire four times in the league, while giving seven other substitute appearances amounting to 32 minutes cumulatively.
Including the Carabao Cup victory over Villa four days after the league defeat he has made seven other starts in the two domestic cups and the Europa League, as Erik ten Hag’s side made two Wembley finals and were knocked out of Europe in the quarter finals.
Perhaps instructively Maguire was dropped to the bench for both English cup semis and the Carabao Cup final, while his start in the second leg of the Europa League quarter against Sevilla saw him score an own goal in a disastrous 3-0 defeat.
While the former Leicester man has become somewhat of a lightning rod for criticism at Old Trafford Southgate has shown strong loyalty to him.
But purely on the basis that Mings is a regular for his club, even more so than Stones is under Pep Guardiola, he would seem to have earned his place back in the England squad at minimum, as FBRef stats show his 3,060 Premier League minutes far outstrip the two Manchester men combined – Maguire’s 677 lags behind Stones’ 1,763.
The picture isn’t quite as clear in-game, but this may be down to the different ways the three teams play under the respective managers.
Maguire makes by far the most tackles per 90 minutes (0.53 to Stones’ 0.31 and Mings’ 0.26) and is most successful at it (80% won to 75% and 47.4%), while Stones drops to distant third in blocks per game (0.77) compared to Mings (1.15) and Maguire (2.27), which is partly explained by featuring in midfield for City at times, as well as the newly-crowned Champions’ dominance in possession.
However, Maguire is also the most generally error-prone in the tackle, as his yellow cards (0.53) and fouls (0.93) per 90 minutes are both well above both Mings and Stones who are relatively even (0.18 to 0.1 yellows and 0.5 to 0.51 fouls), although Mings’ two errors leading to an opponent’s shot are the only numbers across all three men.
When it comes to interceptions the Aston Villa man surges ahead with 1.53 per game, compared to 1.33 from Maguire and 0.46 from Stones, while his percentage of aerial duels won is also the highest (71.1%) as Maguire (52.6%) lags behind Stones (66.7%).
So, while it is not a completely perfect comparison it suggests the Villa man at least holds his own this season in action compared to the two men at the top of the pecking order, especially when errors can be crucial in tight international games.
According to Matt Law in The Telegraph (22 May) Southgate has been considering Brighton’s Lewis Dunk for a call-up, and has spoken to Arsenal’s Ben White, while Tottenham’s Eric Dier also in the equation.
The FBRef comparison between the four pretenders to a starting role shows the Aston Villa stalwart makes by far the fewest tackles per game but easily the most interceptions, which suggests his reading of the play is superior.
White’s 1.82 tackles per 90 is the highest of the four by some distance, but can likely be attributed to playing as a right back at Arsenal more often than not, which might also explain his lowest number in interceptions at 0.67.
Interestingly, Mings is level with Dier and superior to Dunk on the percentage of his tackles won (47.4%), and although he is the most carded he actually has the joint-lowest number of fouls in the group alongside Dunk, while Dier has also made two errors leading to shots – White and Dunk have made one each.
Again the Villa star leads in percentage of aerial duels won, just outstripping Dier’s 69.6%, while he makes far more clearances (4.68 a game) than all three rivals for a cap.
Emery has done an outstanding rescue job at Villa Park and has entrusted Mings throughout, and the stats this season appear to show the 30-year-old has a case to get the nod over his rivals for squad places, if not even a starting role in place of the unfortunate Maguire, when Southgate makes his decision, as a player who can stay on his feet and win possession while being very effective in the air.
In other Aston Villa news, a three-man La Liga blitz may be on the cards amid a potential reunion for Emery.