Tuesday, September 25, 2018

England Squad Analysis Part 2

Dan Steeden in Editorial, World Cup 25 Mar 2018

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We have already seen what this current England squad can do against Holland – a classic, dull 0-1 win which left everyone involved and watching feeling rather uninspired. With Italy up next we’re taking a look at the squad and who has the best chance of making it to Russia in the summer. Part two will focus on Gareth Southgate’s midfielders and forwards.

Midfielders 

Eric Dier: It is the versatility of Dier that makes him a good inclusion in the England squad. Capable of playing both a shielding midfield role or slotting into the defence, the Tottenham man is improving every day under Mauricio Pochettino and is one of the better players in the squad. The Spurs system is one that certainly works and looks to be the aim of Southgate for this England squad, especially given the good spine of Tottenham players included. With that in mind Dier should be involved in the summer. 

Jack Wilshere: Though he has had to pull out of the squad due to injury, it is still worth talking about Wilshere as he is a player that divides opinion. Given a new lease of life at Arsenal this season, the midfielder has made 17 appearances, seven of which have come from the bench. While many people are sceptical, I think Wilshere is one of the few players in the squad that can make things happen and that has the right sort of attitude we want from our national team. Statistically he is little better than Lewis Cook, who you’ll read about below, but at least he can provide a spark.

Jordan Henderson: I think the Liverpool midfielder has one of the most difficult jobs in football. England fans expect Henderson to be the consistent deep-lying playmaker that the team is crying out for, and Southgate includes him for that reason too, but he hasn’t ever quite proved that he is good enough. He’s almost guaranteed to start in Russia but he just doesn’t have the creativity that England are desperately lacking. 

Jake Livermore: Basically a poor man’s Jordan Henderson, Livermore raised a lot of eyebrows when he was included last year, but he has done alright since then. It’s unlikely that the West Brom midfielder will start unless Henderson is injured, but he will be an equally uncreative presence in the heart of the England midfield if he does feature. 

Adam Lallana: While there is little doubt of Lallana’s talent, the fact that he has featured just 10 times for Liverpool in the league this season, starting just one game, makes his inclusion here quite surprising. The midfielder is also without either a goal or an assist this season, but injury has been to blame for much of his absence. Maybe training with the England squad will be a good boost for Lallana, and if he can re-establish his place in the Liverpool side then he could be a good option in Russia. 

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain: One Liverpool midfielder who has been earning game time is Oxlade-Chamberlain, who has registered three goals and five assists in 28 appearances for Jurgen Klopp’s side. Instead of sitting on the bench at Arsenal, the Ox has been improving his game at the Merseyside club and his goal against Manchester City was proof that he can score important goals and change games. Southgate needs all the creativity that he can get, so Oxlade-Chamberlain is a decent inclusion.

Dele Alli: With six goals and nine assists this season and a brilliant rapport with Harry Kane, Dele Alli needs to be a consistent starter in the England team as he is one of the most talented players in the squad. Surprisingly the midfielder didn’t start against Holland, but he should play from the beginning against Italy and show Southgate why he warrants a spot. His attitude has been called into question at times, but every squad needs players that play on the edge. 

Raheem Sterling: Yet another English player who has been making vast improvements under the brilliant Pep Guardiola, Sterling has registered a hugely impressive 15 goals and seven assists in the Premier League this season. He is now one of the best players in the squad and a man in fine form, making him a crucial starter in the summer should his success continue. The winger has pace, finishing ability and, perhaps most importantly, confidence – something that is really lacking in the squad after the Euros.

Ashley Young: Arguably one of the most intriguing players in the England squad, Young can play both as a winger and a defender and will be an incredibly useful backup for a number of other members of the squad. It is the left back position that the Manchester United man has made his own this season, actually becoming one of Jose Mourinho’s more reliable options. Regardless of where he plays, Young is a player who can create chances from the wide areas. 

Jesse Lingard: The goal scorer in England’s 0-1 win against Holland, Lingard has emerged as a top player at Manchester United this season. With eight goals and four assists, the midfielder provides a constant threat and spark with his pace, dynamism and direct approach. He can play both centrally and wide, making him a versatile option and one of the more exciting players in the squad.

Lewis Cook: A questionable inclusion at best, Cook has done very little to justify a place in the England squad as far as I can see. As part of a mid-table Bournemouth side that has been fairly average this season, the midfielder has contributed two assists and no goals from central midfield. His performances have been steady and acceptable, but he is far from the right player to light up the World Cup in the summer.

Forwards 

Danny Welbeck: The Arsenal forward might be struggling for game time and goals in North London, but he has a good record for England and seems to be a favourite of Gareth Southgate. He has 20 appearances for the Gunners in the league during this campaign but 12 of those have come from the bench. With just three goals Welbeck isn’t particularly prolific and it is difficult to see him retaining his spot once Harry Kane returns from injury. 

Jamie Vardy: Amazingly the talismanic Leicester goal scorer has flown somewhat under the radar this season as a result of the success of so many other players, but he has still netted 14 for the Foxes in the league and remains a deadly threat on the break. For England he’s not a great fit as Southgate’s side tend to control the possession, but as an impact substitute he could be lethal. 

Marcus Rashford: The only out-and-out striker that started the game against Holland in an experimental system, Rashford reminded everyone of his talent with a brace against Liverpool in the Premier League last time out. He plays wide under Jose Mourinho, which could also be the case for England when Kane is back, but he’s a threat from anywhere. While he still makes questionable decisions at times and has a lot still to learn, Rashford is one of our most exciting prospects.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dan Steeden


Dan is a recent graduate of the University of Birmingham and an often frustrated Wigan Athletic fan. When not despairing at events unfolding at the DW Stadium he can be found fangirling over Antoine Griezmann or staying up into the early hours of the morning to cheer on the Seattle Seahawks.

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