Competition: International Friendly – England vs. Malta
Venue: Wembley Stadium – Saturday, October 8 – 17:00 BST (12:00 ET)
Match Odds: England 1/50 – Draw 20/1 – Malta 50/1
England welcome Malta to Wembley on Saturday afternoon in the second round of World Cup qualifying fixtures in Group F.
The host nation are second in the group heading into this game, behind only by goal difference. This is an opportunity for England to pick up three points and improve their goal tally in a game their are expected to win comfortably.
Since their opening win of the qualifying rounds England have parted company with Sam Allardyce for his ‘inappropriate conduct’ in a meeting with undercover reporters. England started their campaign with a late 1-0 win over Slovakia and anything but 100% after the second round of fixtures will be deemed inexcusable.
Gareth Southgate takes interim charge of the national team for the first time since replacing Allardyce, he has been promoted from the U21 boss.
Malta were thumped 5-1 by Group F leaders Scotland in their opening game of the qualifying campaign, seeing their winless run extended to 11 games.
Pietro Ghedin faces the unenviable task of trying to frustrate teams in the group, with his side widely expected to finish bottom and be on the receiving end of many defeats by a high number of goals.
Malta are ranked 176th in the world rankings, their last win came in 2015 and they have conceded 14 goals in their last four games.
Southgate announced Wayne Rooney would remain England captain during his time in charge. Phil Jagielka, Raheem Sterling and Glen Johnson pulled out of the squad through injury, leaving the door open for Michael Keane to earn his first cap for England. Andros Townsend replaced Sterling but Southgate isn’t expected to call in a replacement for Jagielka.
Malta have no real ‘household name’ players in their squad. What you can expect is their starting XI to work extremely hard and ensure they earn the respect of the Wembley crowd.
England’s last five: D/W/D/L/W
Malta’s last five: D/L/L/D/L
Key Stat: This is Gareth Southgate’s first game as head coach of England’s senior team.
Key Player: Dele Alli – The Tottenham Hotspur star is full of enthusiasm and talent. He will be hoping to express himself on the ball in this game and make it one to remember.
England 4-0 Malta – To say England are favourites is an understatement. They simply have to pick up a strong win here and ensure they keep a clean sheet. If they score a couple of early goals Malta’s confidence will be even lower than when the game kicks off, but they have to treat their opposition with respect and go about their business in a professional way.