After a 3-0 defeat in front of a near enough sold out Wembley back in November, Scotland, at home this time round, may crank it up a notch. Scottish fans are known for being very passionate, but will they be their 12th player that could beat England this Saturday? Currently four points clear at the top of Group F, England can take a big step towards Russia with a victory, whilst the Scottish absolutely must win to stay in contention.
LAST TIME OUT
Scotland 1-0 Slovenia
Scotland’s last World Cup qualifier saw the Scotts have 16 shots, six on target and one Chris Martin 88th minute goal to secure the three points. Their other five previous games have seen one win, two losses and two draws. Fair enough they beat Malta 5-1, but I’m sure not many of us can name a full Malta squad.
England 2-0 Lithuania
Last time out saw an easy win for England, although 21 shots only resulted in two goals coming from Jermain Defoe and Jamie Vardy. Marcus Rashford was given 30 minutes to show what he’s made of once more, instead he got booked. Defoe to get a chance at the England squad and prove he deserves his spot in the senior side was a good touch too, however because of England’s strong attacking force he’ll probably be brought on in the last 20 minutes of the match. England’s games prior to Lithuania have seen two wins, two draws and one loss. The 3-0 win against Scotland will be a massive confident boost for England this Saturday.
Steven Fletcher, Jamie Murphy, John McGinn, Kenny McLean and Jack Hamilton were all cut from the initial squad, though Hamilton was called back up after an injury to ‘keeper Allan McGregor. Hearts stopper Hamilton is one of three uncapped players in Gordon Strachan’s group along with Aberdeen defender Mark Reynolds and Bournemouth winger Ryan Fraser.
Ben Gibson and Kieran Trippier will be looking to win their first caps over the weekend, though Danny Rose, Ross Barkley Jordan Henderson and Nathaniel Clyne are amongst the absentees.
Scotland key man: Robert Snodgrass
Scotland’s key player will be Robert Snodgrass in my opinion. Snodgrass, scoring three in his last five World Cup qualifiers, as a decent attacking midfielder against an England team with players he’s been playing against all season, he may know how to outsmart them and bag a goal for the Scott’s and no doubt he will have even more energy to throw at England now that he’s had a rest from domestic football for a few weeks.
England key man: Harry Kane
England’s key player this Saturday will definitely be Harry Kane, scoring 29 goals for Spurs last season he is more than likely going to score again against a Scottish team that’s defence is a majority of Championship players. Kane is used to playing against top flight defenders and has managed to have an immense season against a lot of defenders in the big boys’ league. Another factor that will cause even more havoc for Scotland’s defence is that Kane has his best mate Dele Alli around him, the same with Jesse Lingard and Rashford.
Pressure on the Scottish defence
England are yet to concede a goal in their qualifying campaign and their passage to Russia seems very secure. Despite the question marks over their defence, the Three Lions will have enough strength to shut out the Scots, including Snodgrass and forward Chris Martin, another player that could cause damage to England on Saturday, with 44 appearances for an unfortunate Fulham last season scoring 13. However, it’s the Scottish defence that needs to be concerned. Comprised mainly of Championship players, they’re battling the Premier League’s top scorer and a forward line boasting youthful exuberance and pace. This is a team that looks built for the counter-attack, but the nature of the game and Scotland’s quality dictates that they’ll have to play on the front foot, something that England have struggled with.
PREDICTION: Scotland 1-4 England
I think the final score will be 4-1 England, Kane scoring two. In the greatest of respects, I don’t think Scotland’s defence will be tough enough for England. The Three Lions have a trio of attackers that will work together and create a lot of chances and with clinical finishers such as Kane, they’ll be plenty of goals if he’s given the chances. With Dele Alli and Rashford in support, they’ll be well equipped to score numerous times.
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