Bulldog On The Lions…
Our Goal Keeper selections were pretty much standard procedure. Southgate’s not just looking at this World Cup, and he’s chosen Nick Pope over Joe Hart, just to give the younger keeper of the two the experience of a big tournament.
Let’s be honest, the third choice Keeper isn’t going to get a game, Joe has been there and done it and it’ll be great to have Nick in and around the squad, if only for the future – and lets have it right, it’s about time a Burnley player got picked for England after the season they’ve had!
Regarding who starts between the sticks, it’s obviously between Butland and Pickford (two proper keepers), but because of the way Southgate wants to play, for me, it’s got to be Jordan, simply because he’s the better keeper with the ball at his feet – if you want to own the ball, the keeper’s got to be able to play it out from the back.
Looking at our defenders then and I tell you what, I don’t mind our Centre-Halves. Against the lesser teams, Southgate will play with a back four like he did in the qualifiers, but then he toyed around with a back three (or five – whatever you want to call it) against Italy and Holland in the friendlies, so we might see that come in to play against Belgium.
This might surprise a few people, but I think his favourites at Centre-Half will be Stones and Cahill. England will be on the ball more than they’re not, so you’ve got to have defenders who can use it – saying that, I wouldn’t mind seeing Harry McGuire starting for us, who’s very handy with the ball at his feet.
The young boy, Alexander-Arnold, has done well to get into the squad and definitely deserves his chance. I also love Kyle Walker – he is a proper player and for me, is one of the best full-backs in the world at the minute who will start every game. He’s powerful and got energy to burn – some people might pick holes in his final ball but at the end of the day, he’s a right back, not an out-and-out midfielder; personally I think he’s up there with the most solid players in the squad and will be the first defender on the team sheet, for sure.
I’m a bit confused about our Midfield…
I just don’t know how Wilshere is not in there.
It’s an odd one for me, especially because of the way Southgate wants to play. He did alright in the friendlies, he can keep the ball and he’s a proper footballer.
As well as possession play, the Gaffer does like some power in midfield and wants a good few athletes in there, so that will explain Henderson and Delph being selected as well as Loftus-Cheek who’s an absolute unit… don’t forget Dier who’s a lump as well.
I really like RLC who’s one hell of a player. He’s not been on the pedestal as much as Wilshere and if I was torn between one or the other, I would actually take Delph as a Defender instead of Alexander-Arnold (no disrespect – he’s only a young boy and I wonder how much game time he’ll get anyway), then you could have RLC and Wilshere in the squad: problem solved!
Saying that though, Jack has been given opportunities since he was nineteen and hasn’t produced, so who knows, maybe it is time to mix it up. Also, if he’s picking players on form, you’ve got to ask whether 3 assists and 1 goal in 20 league appearances is good enough from (what would be) a senior player if he was picked?
Love our forwards – LOVE THEM! The pace and power of Vardy, Sterling, Kane, Rashford and Welbeck will cause any team a bit of agg – IF we play to our strengths. I tell you what, I TELL YOU WHAT: reading those names back, it sounds like a dangerous attack! Especially Sterling – I love him!
I think we’ll surprise a lot of people this year. I’ve spoken to a few England fans who are saying they’re fed up with England under-performing at big tournaments, but a big thing this time around is that there’s no expectation hanging over the England jersey – which isn’t a nice feeling.
Previously, players never played for their countries like they did their clubs, did they? They used to go out there, the pressure was on and they couldn’t produce as a unit.
What I’ve liked about Southgate’s new-look England side, is that we’ve never had this much energy. When I played against Brazilian’s and other South American’s as a kid, it did my nut in at how much energy they had – they used to run around like lunatics – we couldn’t get near them; it was like they had 13 players on the pitch!!
We’ve got that now. We might not have as bigger hitters as we once did, like Gerrard, Lamps, JT and Rio but at the end of the day, they didn’t produce for us in big tournaments, did they?!
Without the expectation, I think we’ll get a surprise out of these players – they’ve got a little bit of freedom, the right amount of confidence and a freshness to the side as well.
I’m not being funny, but it’s hardly the strongest World Cup we’ve ever seen either. Brazil don’t have the best side they’ve ever had, Italy and Holland aren’t there, Belgium never produce and so all of a sudden, you’re thinking: “hang on a minute, we could go on a serious run here”.
I wouldn’t be surprised if we got to the semi’s and once you get to the knockout stages… anything is possible!
This is a tough choice and it all depends on who we’re playing against, because you do have to adapt the side, especially in tournament football, but if I had a gun to my head, here’s who would be in The Bulldog’s starting XI:
Pickford; Walker, Stones, McGuire, Rose; Loftus-Cheek, Henderson, Lingard; Sterling Kane, Rashford.
Let the debate begin!
FA Cup Final Predictions
I love the FA Cup, it’s a tradition we should be proud of, not only as football fans, but as patriots. People say it’s lost its sparkle, but I have to disagree: people are always talking about the walk down Wembley way and the overall magic of the FA Cup… don’t even get me started on the MOTD music: Goosebumps!
Jose and Antonio’s feud will come to a head at Wembley as United and Chelsea go head-to-head in the final game of the English season.
This is must win for United, not only for Jose who has a point to prove against Chelsea, but for United as a club – this could turn into the nightmare year for them: City winning the League, Liverpool could well win the Champions League and then Chelsea could beat them in the FA Cup Final at Wembley… and I think Chelsea will do them.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s going to be a tight game and both sides will be set up like military units when it comes to tactics, but I think Conte’s boys will just about edge it.
I’ll be backing Chelsea (19/10) to win 2-1, which is 9/1 with BetBright and another nice little bet that jumps out at me is BTTS, which is evens!
Have a good one!
Odds are provided at time of writing, please check your betslip to confirm they have not changed before betting.
Also published on Medium.