Scotland 1 England 3: Three talking points as Arsenal star impresses

Three talking points as England down Scotland at Celtic Park

By Dipak Patel

A rivalry renewed

It is the oldest rivalry in football dating back to 1872. England and Scotland have had some memorable games over the years. From Paul Gascoigne’s iconic goal in Euro 96 to the double Paul Scholes scored back in 1999. Scotland have had their moments, too. Scott Gough helped the ‘auld enemy’ to a memorable victory back in 1985 to win what was then known as the Rous Cup. It is a rivalry that has stood the test of time because regardless of the countries respective situations globally, it still manages to attract crowds selling out stadiums on a regular basis. The last time these two teams played each other England scrapped a victory courtesy of a late Rickie Lambert header. The contest this time proved just as enthralling even though Scotland were a little under par. It was an intense opening as both sides flew into the tackle but ultimately England’s quality showed. They continued where they left off against Slovenia and pressurised high up the pitch. But there was also a touch of quality as some neat interplay led to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s opener, and Wayne Rooney’s late strike.

So why don’t they play each other more often?

Glenn Hoddle said on ITV before the match started that the “game should be played once every three years”. It does make you wonder, why do England play against the ‘auld enemy’ so rarely? Tuesday’s game was played at Celtic Park, and the atmosphere within the stadium was electric after a passionately-sung Scottish national anthem. Every English touch was greeted with hostility and it prompted ITV’s commentator Andy Townsend to struggle to hear his own voice due to the noise within the stadium. The passion could be felt early on as Scotland looked to get on the front foot flying into tackles. England admirably ignored the impact of the crowd and created a few early chances. Scotland will be disappointed but it was a different sort of friendly than the ones we are used to. You could sense in the celebrations that it really mattered to the players to get on the score-sheet. Although there were some deplorable scenes as English fans sung songs related to the IRA and had some distasteful banners. But this was in the minority as most of the fans within the stadium embraced the fixture and it was played in good spirit.

Wilshere has another promising performance for the Three Lions

Jack Wilshere’s recent performances have to be put into context. They have come against Slovenia, who are ranked 36th according to the Fifa world rankings. Then you have Scotland, who are ranked one place lower at 37. However, regardless of the opposition, it was refreshing to see the Jack Wilshere of a few years ago. He seems to have got over his persistent injuries and if he gets a consistent run of games, he could become a very special player indeed. With the departure of stalwarts such as Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard, it was imperative that someone stepped up to become England’s creative hub. Although it is early days, Wilshere has shown glimpses of what he can offer. He has a range of passing and possesses vision no other English player in the team currently has. He made a few promising passes that went unrewarded in the game against Slovenia. But tonight, his sublime ball was converted by Oxlade-Chamberlain. The run was clever but the weight of the ball in behind the defence was inch-perfect. It was also drilled in with pace making things easier for the attacker. He nearly repeated the trick as Danny Welbeck looked to ghost in behind the defence, but fortunately for Scotland, it was well defended the second time around. If Wilshere continues this sort of form for the rest of the season than the critics are likely to decrease and instead they will start to celebrate the potential for the midfielder to become world-class.

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