Why England should look forward to the 2018 Russia World Cup

OneEngland


(Image credit – Instagram: @em_o4)

There is still a long way to go and a lot can change in a season but in terms of potential  this could be a good World Cup for England. They are in poll position to qualify for the World Cup in Russia next summer. With upcoming qualifiers against Malta and Slovakia a further chance to move toward securing their place the squad Gareth Southgate has selected should fill English fans with hope. Obviously long term superstar Wayne Rooney retiring from international duty is a blow but the positives certainly seem to outweigh the negatives.

We take a look at the squad selection and discuss why Southgate has done a great job with this one!

Goalkeepers

  • Joe Hart (West Ham – on loan from Manchester City)
  • Jack Butland (Stoke City)
  • Tom Heaton (Burnley)
  • Jordan Pickford (Everton) – pulled out due to injury

England have a wealth of top quality keepers at their disposal. Each of these four Premier League goalkeepers would fill a fan with confidence being named on the team sheet.

Joe Hart has been struggling since Pep Guardiola shipped him out on loan. His commanding aura that was present at his peek has diminished and now he seems to be full of mistakes and his recent performances at West Ham have not changed this view. When England faced Scotland at Hampden Park he was at fault for the two goals England conceded.

Jack Butland was on the cusp of claiming the England number one shirt before he was unfortunately injured against Germany. A long road to recovery has only delayed his move for the position but it seems inevitable he will claim it soon enough. Tom Heaton had a great season last year with Burnley. He may not have the most clean sheets but in terms of saves he is amongst the front runnersJordan Pickford has withdrawn from the squad due to a muscle injury. He has recently moved to Everton and in the future him and Butland will battle for the spot in between the sticks.

Defenders

  • Ryan Bertrand (Southampton)
  • Aaron Cresswell (West Ham)
  • Gary Cahill (Chelsea)
  • Phil Jones (Manchester United)
  • Harry Maguire (Leicester City)
  • John Stones (Manchester City)
  • Michael Keane (Everton)
  • Chris Smalling Manchester United)
  • Kyle Walker (Manchester City)
  • Kieran Trippier (Tottenham Hotspur)

The defensive selection sees fresh players mixed with senior members of the England set up. Gary Cahill, Chirs Smalling and Phil Jones have good experience at this level. Jones has recently seen an upturn in form since being played consistently for Manchester United at the start of the season.

At left back Ryan Bertrand has a real claim to the position. He has played well for long periods at Southampton and deserves a sustained run in the national team. Aaron Cresswell will deputise for Bertrand and it is good to see him get experience around the England set up. On the opposite side of defence new Manchester City signing Kyle Walker will keep his place and ex Tottenham team mate Kieran Trippier will be second choice.

New Everton defender Michael Keane earns his place in the squad. It is well deserved as his performances for Burnley last season secured his move to Everton and interest from Liverpool and Chelsea. Harry Maguire has forced his way into this squad due to brilliant performances for Leicester after his summer move.

Midfield

  • Eric Dier (Tottenham Hotspur)
  • Nathaniel Chalobah (Watford)
  • Jake Livermore (West Brom)
  • Jordan Henderson (Liverpool)

Unfortunately this area is one in which England are struggling at the moment. Since the days of Frank Lampard, Paul Scholes and Steven Gerrard they have struggled to develop a real talent.

Eric Dier is a steady performer. He does his job and when he is in form he can break up play and distribute the ball adequately. It is a great move to bring in Nathaniel Chalobah after impressing on his return to Watford. He has been shipped around to different clubs on loan. He will give the middle of the park a fresh feel and inject some energy into the position. After the draw in Scotland we were critical of Jake Livermore. While he is a good player at a mid table team he is not good enough to play at international level. Jordan Henderson is a leader. He performs well for Liverpool but for his club and country he has big shoes to fill.

It would have been good to see James Ward-Prowse or Lewis Baker in the squad to get some experience. These two played in thhe U21 European Championships and are the future of England’s midfield. With the squad being well balanced it would have been exciting to see these two given a chance.

Attackers

  • Raheem Sterling (Manchester City)
  • Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Liverpool)
  • Marcus Rashford (Manchester United)
  • Jesse Lingard (Manchester United)
  • Dele Alli (Tottenham Hotspur)

England more often than not play with one striker, two wingers and one midfielder behind the striker. However, it is likely Southgate will go with the in fashion formation of three at the back given the amount of defenders in the squad.

Raheem Sterling  has been tipped to be an England star for some time. His performances since moving to Manchester City have been inconsistent. He is an exciting player and given more work on his final product he could be key to any success the national side have. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, now of Liverpool, is another player that has the potential to really nail down a place in the England team before the World Cup in Russia. If he can shine in these games he will give Southgate a headache in the wide positions.

If England are to be successful in Russia they will need Marcus Rashford to be in form. His form with Manchester United at the start of the season has been impressive. His direct running from wide areas and eagerness to get involved have been refreshing to see from a player so young. Contrasting fortunes for Jesse Lingard at Manchester United have seen him used as a squad rotation player. He gives his all every game but lacks the natural talent of many in the squad. It is obvious that Dele Ali will have to be selected in the team. He brings something to the squad that nobody else can. If they play somebody behind the striker he will have little competition. Alli is one of the only true footballing stars in the current England squad.

Strikers

  • Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur)
  • Jamie Vardy (Leicester City)
  • Jermain Defoe (Bournemouth)
  • Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool)
  • Danny Welbeck (Arsenal)

Competition for places up front are sparse. If England select to play one striker, quality goalscorers are going to have to settle for a place on the bench. Harry Kane will be the front runner for a place in the starting line up. After struggling at Euro 2016 he will be looking to prove a point in Russia. Jamie Vardy will push Kane close for the starting position. He has started the season in better form and looks to have rediscovered the form that made him front page news. Jermain Defoe scores goals, that is a fact. While he is advancing in age he still provides a service to the squad.

It has been a tough couple of years for Daniel Sturridge. Injuries as well as falling out of favour under Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp means he has not experienced masses of first team football. His goal against Wales at Euro 2016 was a great moment for him and he does have a knack for scoring goals which helps the team in moments of need. Danny Welbeck is another player who has struggled with injuries. Given the problems his club Arsenal have suffered and tension over his managers future means he has been unsettled. His ability to play through the middle and on the wings is a plus. Welbeck also seems to step up and perform well when he represents England.

Final Word

England have suffered a lot of heartbreak in recent international tournaments. With new faces around the squad and experienced players to help them settle this squad could do better. Winning in Russia may be a step too far, but progress can be made and England could find themselves in the later stages. Midfield is a area for concern and bringing through players from the under 21 set up and giving them experience before the World Cup in Russia could improve their chances. However, the future looks bright for England under Southgate.


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