Was Everton boss Sam Allardyce right to sub Wayne Rooney against Liverpool?

Everton boss Sam Allardyce hooked Wayne Rooney on the hour mark against Liverpool on Saturday, claiming his captain couldn’t match the running – but was he right?

Rooney appeared to react angrily as he took his seat among the substitutes – having also been subbed off after 57 minutes against Manchester City the previous week.

“It is simple for me, because there is my eye, during the game, and then there are the stats after the game,” said Allardyce. “That’s the beauty of our matrix and statistics today. They don’t lie.”

Liverpool top the Premier League for sprints this term with 18,596 to date and rank third for distance covered with 3,744 km, behind Bournemouth (3,812) and West Brom (3,783) – so Allardyce had reason to consider fitness.

But what do Rooney’s stats say? And how does he compare with other central midfielders?

Sam Allardyce believes the reaction to Wayne Rooney's conduct after he was substituted during the Merseyside derby has been overblown.

Against Liverpool, he was on track to complete a personal average of around 47 sprints and a slightly below-average 10.7 km

However, Rooney did, indeed, suffer a dip in his running totals in the two games that preceded the City game.

Danny Mills and Tony Cottee discuss if Wayne Rooney's was out of order for showing dissent towards Sam Allardyce in Everton's draw against Liverpool.

When converting his matchday totals for sprints and distance covered to per 90 minutes, the former England skipper produced season-low levels for sprints against Brighton and Stoke, while his spike against Burnley was a result of his average being boosted by playing only 30 minutes.

In addition to season-low sprinting, Rooney also covered less distance, as a per 90-minute average, than in any other league game this term – bar the previous reverse fixture with Brighton in October last year.

However, compared with other central midfielders, Rooney only ranks slightly below average for sprints (45 compared with 49) and distance covered (11.1 km compared with 11.4 km).

So while the drop off in Rooney’s running stats in the two games preceding Everton’s matches with Manchester City and Liverpool may have been on Allardyce’s mind, generally this season he has been able to match the majority of Premier League midfielders for fitness.

Rooney will hope to be back on the field to prove his point when Everton travel to Swansea on Saturday.

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