England 3 Slovenia 1: Three talking points as Arsenal defender impresses
Dipak Patel looks at the talking points as England come from behind to beat Slovenia
Gibbs and Clyne impress in rare appearances
It’s quite surprising that Kieran Gibbs hasn’t received more caps for England. He has had issues with injuries but whenever he is fit, he is a regular starter for Arsenal. When it came to selecting the World Cup squad during the summer his name was barely mentioned at all. It suggests that Roy Hodgson doesn’t have that much faith in him. However, unlike many other positions, England have a dearth of quality to choose from at left back. Gibbs is competing against Leighton Baines and Luke Shaw but showed today why he should be considered for future games. It was a solid performance as he showed good pace and variety when he went forward. But there was also a maturity in his defensive work as Slovenia struggled to break England down. Nathaniel Clyne was rewarded for his consistency this season for Southampton and also impressed in his first competitive game for England. His fearless attitude allied with his youthful exuberance produced a dynamic performance. It was also refreshing to see such a positive outlook. Rather than cutting back inside and looking for the safe pass, Clyne looked to take his man on and beat him for pace. He set up quite a few chances in the game and on another day might have got an assist.
England maintain 100 per cent record
England made it look difficult at times and faced some uncomfortable moments, but they were eventually able to seal all three points. A noticeable difference about this campaign has been England’s willingness to press further up the pitch. Slovenia tried to keep possession but it was often in vain. Jordan Henderson made a nuisance of himself, Danny Welbeck was lively trying to pinch the ball whenever he could. It was refreshing to watch. Rather than the passivity we have become accustomed to watching England, they looked to get onto the front foot whenever it was possible. Another positive to come from the match was the English players’ ability to adapt to two different formations. In the first half we saw the diamond where Raheem Sterling operated in behind Welbeck and Wayne Rooney. In the second half we saw Hodgson switch to a 4-3-3 with Sterling and Welbeck operating out wide, with Rooney through the middle. The midfield also adjusted well as Lallana dropped back to make a three but the chemistry still remained.
But we still don’t know how good England are due to a poor group
It may have been a comfortable win, but the quality of opposition in the group means it’s difficult to gage how well England are actually playing. The majority of the group is filled with minnows with only one established nation. However, Switzerland are having a shocker so far having only picked up three points from their first three games. There was plenty to excite England fans with Welbeck scoring a brace and linking well with the other attacking players. But the concerns still remain that England go into their shells against more superior opposition. England’s next qualifying game is against Lithuania but they also have a few friendlies lined up. Providing they chose testing opposition, it might be a more accurate reflection of how close England are to the elite teams in Europe.