England secured a last gasp 1-0 win at home to Slovenia on Thursday, despite a dire performance. With Lithuania up next, the Three Lions are expected to come back to England with a comfortable victory, however, recent performances have been largely uninspiring.
Here are five things we would like to see from Gareth Southgate’s side today:
In the last round of internationals, England eventually ran out 4-0 winners over Malta, however, struggled to create chances until the end of the game. It was the same against Slovenia on Thursday.
A slow tempo, and lots of sideways and backwards passing even led to boos from certain sections of the Wembley crowd. England were crying out for someone who could provide a creative spark.
Aside from the Marcus Rashford chance, which came about via a missed clearance from the defender, England struggled to create much else. Even Harry Kane’s winning goal came after a poor throw out from keeper Jan Oblak, with Kyle Walker taking advantage of the now unorganised Slovenia backline.
Of course, with Adam Lallana’s injury, England lack a true playmaker. Harry Winks would provide creativity from deeper positions and should be given a chance. England will more than likely get all three points, however, it is time to show something extra.
In fairness, Gareth Southgate doesn’t have many creative midfielders to choose from. However, a manager must deal with the hand he is given. Chelsea proved last season that you can be creative without necessarily needing an out and out playmaker, and did so with the 3-4-2-1 formation.
In this system, the job of the central midfield two is to shore up the middle of the park and ensure their side do not get overrun, and play it simply to the more attacking players in the side.
Southgate’s recent midfield picks of Eric Dier, Jordan Henderson, and Jake Livermore are ideally suited to this role whilst Raheem Sterling is far more intelligent and tactically flexible than he is given credit for. Dele Alli struck up a brilliant relationship with Harry Kane playing in a similar system and should start along with Sterling in support of the star striker.
Harry Maguire is an excellent ball playing centre back and is also ideally suited to the three at the back system along with John Stones. With qualification already secured, Southgate should try some new faces in a system ideally suited to the squad.
Lithuania are currently 120th in the FIFA World Rankings. England taking their foot of the gas due to already qualifying is no excuse.
Of course, there is no such thing as an easy game in football, (San Marino aside perhaps) and the Lithuanians will ensure they are solid and tough to break down.
However, England’s sheer quality should shine through and anything less than a comfortable 3-0 win would be a disappointment.
It would be nice to see England play attractive, and exciting football leading to goals and chances aplenty.
The last time England scored in the first twenty minutes at Wembley was in 2013, 20 matches ago. That simply isn’t good enough, especially considering some of the opposition they came across. If England want to get the fans on side, a fast start with a quick tempo would be, excuse the pun, a good start.
Players are often accused of not trying their best for the national side. This is almost certainly not true, however, if England want to silence their critics, playing with a high tempo against these types of opponents is vital.
A lack of identity and set playing style has plagued the national side for a number of years. It is time England found an ideology and stuck to it.
Why not play the Spurs star? England miss a player of his style and attributes and there is nothing to lose with England already qualified for the World Cup in the summer.
Some of England’s most important players were given their chance at an early stage in their careers, and Winks should be no different.
He is excellent at setting the tempo of the game and plays with no fear. Give him a chance, and England may have found the missing piece in their rather jumbled jigsaw.
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