Former Manchester United and England right-back Gary Neville has 85 international caps to his name.
The eight-time Premier League winner retired from international football in 2007. And a decade on, England have two promising prospects battling it out to emulate the example Neville set for so many years.
Kyle Walker and Kieran Trippier, who were both at Spurs last season, line up on opposite sides in the Saturday tea-time kick-off at the Etihad Stadium as both face their old clubs.
Sheffield-born Walker became the most expensive defender ever in the summer when City splashed out £54 million to land the services of England’s first-choice right-back.
His closest competition comes in the shape of former-teammate Trippier, who since the departure of Walker is thriving under Mauricio Pochettino.
Here, MM compares the contrasting styles of the two 27-year-olds, assessing their 2017/18 Premier League performances so far.
- Kyle Andrew Walker, Age 27 (Manchester City and England)
- Kieran John Trippier, Age 27 (Tottenham Hotspur and England)
Appearances and minutes played
Just as he did last season, Walker has played significantly more minutes than Trippier. So far, Walker has played 1,304 minutes in 15 appearances, while Trippier has appeared in three less matches playing 994 minutes.
Goals and assists
Neither player has scored this season, but City and Spurs’ number twos are very much level in terms of assists. Both have four each to their name.
When looking closer, though, it is Trippier who comes out on top. The former Burnley man averages an assist every 248.5 minutes, while Walker averages one once every 326 minutes.
Last season was a similar story. Despite Walker making 33 Premier League appearances while Trippier made just 12, they both registered five assists.
The defensive contribution of Walker has very much improved over the past couple of years, and this season it continues to do so. He has attempted 22 tackles this season, winning 16 of them which means that he has completed 73 percent of his tackles.
Trippier is not too bad in this department either. Although he has made and won more tackles than Walker, winning 19 of his 28 tackles attempted, his tackle success rate is just 68 percent – leaving him just shy of Walker.
There is not much to separate them in terms of clearances made either, with Walker completing 32 clearances – four more than his opposite number.
These statistics are understandable, especially considering Walker plays in a back four while Trippier predominantly features as a right-wing back.
Another statistic which outlines the contrast in styles between Pochettino and Pep Guardiola is pass accuracy.
Walker has been immaculate in his passing, completing 1,057 passes. We all know Guardiola’s sides love to keep the ball, and Walker is doing this very well. This season, Guardiola’s summer signing has completed an average of 70.47 passes per game. He has a pass success rate of 87.6 percent.
Pochettino’s side average 56 percent possession in football matches this season. Although this is a respectable figure, Guardiola’s City average 64 percent – seven percent higher than second-best Arsenal.
Trippier is a part of this, but he has made just 666 passes, with a pass completion rate of 81.5 percent – significantly less than Walker.
It is in the crossing department where Trippier thrives. When Spurs play with a 3-5-2 formation, Pochettino gives his wing-backs licence to push forward.
Statistics may show Walker is superior defensively, but going forward Trippier has been more effective.
Less possession means more crosses into the box. This is reflective in Trippier’s 74 crosses this season while Walker has made only 29.
Of Trippier’s 74 crosses, 15 of them have been accurate. This is the case for just four crosses made by Walker who has a cross success rate of just 14 percent – six percent less than Trippier.
This one may have been hard to predict, but once again Trippier wins.
It’s a close run thing, with Trippier creating five chances – a number which is only one better than the four Walker has created.
In terms of minutes per chance created, though, Trippier has created a chance every 199 minutes. Walker is less successful, creating a chance just once every 326 minutes.
Walker and Trippier are both excellent full-backs, and if they continue their impressive from through to the end of the season both will surely be on the plane to Russia.
The fact Walker has a better defensive contribution and pass success rate is down to Guardiola’s way of playing. The Yorkshireman plays in a back four and for a team who average the most possession in the top five European leagues this season.
For Spurs, the emphasis is more on crosses and direct play, explaining why Trippier thrives more in the final third playing as a wing-back rather than a conventional full-back.
Guardiola and Pochettino have their own ways of playing. Walker is better suited to the Guardiola style of play. Despite Walker also demonstrating he was more than able to match Pochettino’s demands during his time in North London, the change of system to a back three from the Argentine has proved fruitful for Trippier – who I believe thrives more than Walker as a right wing-back.
Statistics via: WhoScored, Squawka and Official Premier League website