Verdict: England -1
Scotland welcome England to Hampden Park in a World Cup Qualifier match on Saturday evening where the two rivals will be looking for a win to boost their chances of travelling to Russia in 2018.
Gordon Strachan’s men haven’t endured the best of qualifying campaigns so far and find themselves fourth in Group F having accumulated seven points from five games. A defeat to England in this next match will have a huge impact on whether Scotland manage to snatch a second-placed play-off spot from under the noses of Slovakia and Slovenia on nine and ten points respectively. However, they will be encouraged by their 1-0 victory over Srecko Katanec’s men last time out when Chris Martin scored an 88th minute winner. It was a much-needed confidence boost for Scotland but they still need to address their poor run of form that had seen them winless in the four games before that. The Tartan Army are always hard to beat at home and will raise their game against the Auld Enemy, however, as always they know it will be extremely tough against England. Scotland have conceded three goals in each of their last three games versus the Three Lion and they could be in for much of the same on Saturday.
Scotland have no new injury worries for the game.
Celtic stars Craig Gordon, Scott Brown, Kieran Tierney, Stuart Armstrong, Leigh Griffiths and James Forrest will be all hoping to start in order to transform some of their treble winning confidence into the team.
It’s been a relatively straight forward qualifying campaign for England up to yet and they currently sit four points ahead of second-placed Slovakia. Admittedly, it would have been somewhat disastrous had England struggled to be top at this stage with the standard of opposition in the group but Gareth Southgate’s men still deserve great credit. The Three Lions have been professional in achieving decent results and are still yet to concede a goal in five games played. In fact, stretching back into the Euros last summer, it is now nine consecutive matches they have gone without conceding which is some feat. England cruised to a comfortable 3-0 victory when the two sides met in November and with Tottenham Hotspur due Harry Kane and Dele Alli bang in form they will be confident on inflicting a similar result come Saturday. For some reason, England always make easy work of their qualification to major tournaments but struggle spectacularly when they get there. The Three Lions fans will be hoping Southgate is the man who can finally abolish this strange hoodoo.
Defender Nathaniel Clyne and striker Jamie Vardy have pulled out due to injury.
Southgate otherwise has a full squad to choose from.
Middlesbrough’s Ben Gibson could make his debut.
Key Factors to Consider
- Scotland have lost seven of their last eight games against England
- The Tartan Army have managed only three goals in their last nine home matches against the Three Lions
- England have scored three goals in each of their last three games versus Scotland – with eight different goalscorers
- Southgate’s men are the only side in qualifying who have yet to concede a goal
- England haven’t lose a qualifying match since October 2009 versus Ukraine. It is a run which stretches back 34 games
England’s impeccable qualification record looks set to continue against a Scotland side struggling for any kind of form. The Three Lions will be eager to stretch their lead at the top of the table in the last meaningful game of the season and it could be quite comfortable.
Verdict: England -1
Best Odds: 15/8
Bookmaker: Bet 365
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