Southgate’s England now clinical against lesser opponents

From Rhys Jaggar :

A lot of predictable hoopla after two fine England results.

But really: it was a bit like a Top Six side getting two FA Cup wins against non EPL opponents.

Those are just the sort of games to blood new young players, just as Sarri has played Hudson-Odoi in Europa League and League Cup.

Sarri is copping flak from the Press Pack, when Southgate is yet to throw the lad in against a Holland, a France or a Spain. There is a bit of wanting CHO to stay at Chelsea and saying he may leave without EPL starts, but McNulty was a bit OTT on the BBC website today IMHO.

The biggest lesson to be gleaned is that Southgate has abandoned the World Cup 3-5-2 formation and decided to emulate Cruyff with 4-3-3.

There are consequences, most notably the ditching of a traditional central No.10 which suited Dele down to the ground. Kane was also bypassed yesterday based on stats in The Times. Seems astonishing not to build your side around him, but the stats do not lie.

The second lesson is that defenders were hogging the ball passing amongst themselves. Seems strange to have defenders on the ball far more than attackers but that is what the stats said.

Southgate was implying that he changed systems from 3-5-2 because the system did not work against top opposition.

I do not buy that at all. England lost to Croatia because they did not bury them in the first half when they dominated and let two poor defensive goals in the following hour and a quarter.

But if Southgate prefers a new system, fine by me.

He played one too many attacking players in the summer and one too few box-to-box MF in my book. Barkley not Lingard would be the formula, but that was not possible last summer.

The truth is he wants to play two wide attackers now because he has a glut of exceptional young talent to fill such roles.

He can easily play 4-2-3-1 using Rice/Henderson/Dier and Barkley/Winks/Ward-Prowse as the two. Rashford/CHO and Sterling/Sancho as wide men with Dele/Lingard as a Ten. Kane up top with Rashford an able alternative.

But with 4-3-3, one suspects he is looking to draft in Foden at some stage into left midfield.

My view is that Southgate knows his squad can already play 4-2-3-1 and 3-5-2, now he is adding 4-3-3 to the party. He can probably add 3-4-2-1 and 3-3-3-1 to provide ultimate tactical flexibility, along with the 4-1-2-1-2 diamond formation.

The greater the tactical armoury available, the more likely every challenge can be faced successfully.

Too soon to make firm predictions, but the Good Ship England appears to be creditably seaworthy during pre-launch sea trials.

Myles says:

James Maddison (22) may be ahead of the more gifted Phil Foden (18) for the rest of 2019.

A pity that Arsenal v Newcastle isn’t till Monday night.

Two very tactical Spanish coaches means it will be tight.

Arsenal have better players and will win by one goal.

Very good Europa League draw for Emery, if Arsenal beat Napoli