Anybody with half an eye on this seasons Premier League will know its been terrifically exciting and probably the most open its ever been. The entire bottom half are within 8 points of one another and everyone in the top half has something to play for whether it be an Europa League position, champions league spot or aiming for the title itself which means every game is vital. So what better time to step up and give some outstanding performances, and who amongst others have been doing that? ENGLAND PLAYERS.
We’re told fairly regularly by the media that the Premier League is so crammed full of foreign talent that there is no place for homegrown players to thrive. Wrong. I’m going to run through this weekends (and Mondays) fixtures that show Roy Hodgson has been given a lot to think about ahead of the World Cup.
Newcastle v Sunderland (0-3)
Always an important game the Tyne-Wear derby but this one felt more important than usual, Sunderland sitting in the relegation places hitting some good form of late were up against Newcastle, significantly higher in the table but having lost momentum and Yohan Cabaye in the transfer window were looking a bit shaky. There were a few stand-out English performances in this game, firstly Adam Johnson who has been instrumental for Sunderland lately scoring goals for fun and he didn’t disappoint this game either. He showed great creativity and vision in the lead up to Sunderland’s penalty to find Phil Bardsley with a clever chipped pass before he was fowled in the box. Johnson scored Sunderland’s second showing determination to follow a ball into the box and got his reward when Tim Krul parried a shot into his path. Johnson bullied Santon all game and even Dummett when he replaced Santon going round them both with relative ease. A Candidate for an England Spot. Yes. Quick mentions for Wes Brown who’s experience proved important when Newcastle applied some heavy pressure in the second half, Liam Bridcutt who made his debut in this highly intense match and managed to remain calm and composed finding some good passes playing in the holding midfield role, and lastly Jack Colback, the Newcastle born Sunderland player who has proved an important part of the Sunderland team by coming off the bench and scoring some late goals more than once this season. But do I think those 3 will go to the world cup… no Sorry .
West Ham v Swansea (2-0)
West Ham and Swansea, two teams in the Bottom half and therefore two relegation candidates, West Ham even more so since they’re occupying one of those relegation places. After there “19th Century” display against Chelsea West Ham needed to show that they hadn’t forgotten how to attack, and they did. A total of 12 English players on Display during this game however I’m just going to focus on 3, Noble, Nolan and Carroll. Noble has been West Ham’s player of the season so far. When Wast Ham defend he sits in front of the back four breaking up most of the play with great tackles rarely conceding a foul unlike many other holding midfielders and also very good on the counter attack busting a gut to get forward sometimes finding the back of the net. Kevin Nolan has been scoring goals in the Premier League longer than I can remember and so no one is surprised when he does but its his link up play with Andy Carroll that’s impressive, they have such a good partnership and like so many of the great partnerships they always know where each other are and just how to supply one another. West ham very much utilised the height of Carroll as he assisted for Nolan’s goals. The First a long ball headed down by Carroll to Nolan and the second a long corner from Downing excellently kept in play by the head of Carroll and played straight to Nolan for the headed finish. Carroll’s performance was overshadowed by the red card he unfairly earned for stroking Chico Flores. Any of these 3 for the World Cup? Carroll with an outside chance possibly.
Everton v Aston Villa (2-1)
Everton are flying high under Roberto Martinez and are in contention for that coveted 4th place, while Aston villa are in tenth, top of the group of teams in danger so by no means safe. Not a lot to say about this one I wanted to mention Leighton Baines, Gareth Barry and Ross Barkley. Baines put in a good performance as everyone has come to expect from him and with Ashley Cole on the Bench at Chelsea its looking increasingly likely that he will earn himself that England left back place. Barry on loan at Everton from Manchester City looks rejuvenated playing in that defensive midfield role as we’ve seen him do for so many years and playing a part in Everton’s First goal, however I don’t think he should be anticipating a recall to the England squad. I also just wanted to add how good it was to see Ross Barkley return from injury and hope he returns to the form he was on previously because he really is in with a chance of being part of the England World Cup setup.
Fulham v Southampton (0-3)
Fulham Currently looking hopeless at the bottom of the league need a lot from signings Mitroglou and Heitinga in order to survive this season in contrast Southampton in 9th place, just above those in danger and not far off the European qualification places. Its easy to heap more praise onto Southampton’ s English attacking trio of Lallana, Rodriguez and Lambert so I’m not going to however what I will say is that Lallana is the one that can have the biggest impact in an England shirt, his ability to go round players is something missing from an English midfield the usual system seems to be pass it round the opposition until the ball is lost. I also believe Rodriguez should be utilised, maybe not as a starter but he is a wide player that can finish well. Danny Welbeck usually occupies a wide position for England and it doesn’t work. I’m sorry to say it because I like him but I don’t think Ricky Lambert will go to the World Cup. England has plenty of well established strikers and he doesn’t add anything new. Southampton also provides hope for the future as well. In defence Luke Shaw looks a exciting prospect adding to a growing list of talented English left backs, On the right Callum Chambers and Nathaniel Clyne could be pushing for a spot come the 2018 World Cup.
West Brom v Liverpool (1-1)
Liverpool looking to secure 4th spot dropped points to West Brom, part of that ever growing list of teams in danger, due to a defensive clanger but its not Liverpool’s defence I want to focus on, its their attack. More specifically Daniel Sturridge, From an England perspective I only hope he stays injury free ahead of the World Cup because he has vastly improved since being given game time at Liverpool, he always showed he was talented at Chelsea and on loan at Bolton, but he could be vital for England. Similar to Rooney in that they can both pass and finish with Sturridge being the more attack minded of the two I can maybe see Sturridge up top with Rooney in behind. Gerrard still does exactly what he’s been doing for a decade at the same ability so he will inevitably be Going to Brazil, as for Henderson he can be a bit inconsistent, Great one game and silent the next so whether he will go could hinge on future performances.
Arsenal v Crystal Palace (2-0)
Arsenal who currently top the table met Palace who until recently were in the bottom 3, only one expected outcome but it wasn’t as easy as arsenal fans hoped it would be. The goals came from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain who returned from an injury sustained on the first day of the season. He couldn’t have hoped for a better return. Playing in a new central role instead of the wide one we are used to seeing could be the start of something according the Arsene Wenger who wants to convert Oxlade-Chamberlain to a centre midfielder. Wherever he plays for Arsenal he could be important for England especially since Walcott will not be part of the England squad. It looks like Oxlade-Chamberlain could be pushing Andros Townsend for his place.
Manchester City v Chelsea
The clash of the titans or whatever you want to call it was played on Monday night and although it was on paper a game between 2nd and 3rd was actually a game between both title favourites. This game was exciting for so many reasons; the table implications, the managerial mind games and because it was the Leagues best attack (city) against the leagues best defence (chelsea). The game absolutely lived up to expectations and although I could analyse it forever I will just focus on the England players involved. Joe Hart has eradicated the stupid mistakes from his game that cost City 3 points in the fixture at Stamford Bridge and had no chance with Ivanovic’s goal. He looks set to remain England’s number 1. What I will say of Chelsea’s English players, Cahill and Terry is simple. THESE TWO HAVE TO GO TO THE WORLD CUP. Its as simple as that, they are not only the best English defenders we’ve got but they’ve worked with each other long enough to have have a partnership vital for England Success. I am fully aware the John Terry has retired from international football and he may not be a great role model but it comes down to this. Do the F.A want to win the World Cup or the Fair play award. Every team has unsavoury characters in it. If England had a Luis Suarez would he be allowed to play? As for Terry’s resignation I’m sure one phone call from Mr. Hodgson or anyone at the F.A is all it would take to change that.
Basically all I’m trying to say is its not all bad news for England, English players can still play in the Premier League and sometimes you must overlook character for ability.