International Friendly Preview and Prediction: England vs France

Competition: International Friendly – England vs. France 

Venue: Wembley Stadium – Tuesday, November 17 – 20:00 GMT (15:00 ET)

Match Odds: England 6/4 – Draw 11/5 – France 15/8

Match Preview

England face Euro 2016 hosts France at Wembley on Tuesday night in a friendly game that will see the two nations stand together following Friday night’s tragic terror attacks in Paris.

Initially it seemed obvious that the game would be cancelled by the French Football Federation but they have decided to let the game go ahead. England and France will use the match to showcase the two nations’ solidarity following Friday’s events.

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England come into the game following their 2-0 defeat to Spain in Alicante on Friday evening. The result saw England lose for the first time since the 2014 World Cup, ending a run of 14 games unbeaten.

With Wayne Rooney and Jamie Vardy out through injury, Harry Kane is the only fit striker available to Roy Hodgson and there are worries the England squad looks too weak just months before the European Championships get underway.

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It will be interesting to see what the side will look like with Dele Alli and Eric Dier both awaiting their first start in an England shirt, and just how ‘experimental’ the starting XI will be on Tuesday evening.

France beat Germany 2-0 on Friday night in Paris as the tragic events in the French capital unfolded. The result of that game will mean little to French supporters but the game against England will go ahead.

However, Didier Deschamps’ side have now won five games in a row and will use the game with England to show solidarity. The European Championships in France are still set to go ahead and so the host nation will want to ensure they are in the best form possible.

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Key Points

England’s last five: W/W/W/W/L

France’s last five: W/W/W/W/W

Key Stat: England haven’t beaten France on home soil since 1992 and have failed to win in any of the last six meetings between the nations.

Key Player: Paul Pogba – Pogba is one of the world’s most complete midfielder and has been sensational since joining Juventus in 2012. It won’t be long until he’s one of, if not the best, players in world football. He’s a superb talent with unfathomable potential.

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Score Prediction

England 1-1 France – We’re hoping this game offers a chance for football to distract itself from the events in Paris on Friday night and hopefully both sides will be looking to get forward and score goals. We think a score draw is most likely.

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Euro 2016 Qualifier Preview and Prediction: Slovenia vs England

Competition: European Championship Qualifier – Slovenia vs. England

Venue: Stadion Stozice, Slovenia – Sunday, June 14 – 17:00 GMT

Match Odds: Slovenia 3/1 – Draw 5/2 – England 17/20

Match Preview

Slovenia welcome England to the Stadion Stozice as the top two sides in Group E go head-to-head on Sunday evening.

The hosts have won three of their five qualifying games so far and will feel they have a great chance of making it through to the knockout rounds.

Slovenia’s last outing in the qualifiers was a 6-0 thrashing of minnows San Marino. They have scored ten goals so far in the group, which is only five less than England, but they did lose in their friendly match against Qatar back in March.

A positive result here will give them a real chance of qualifying and will leave them in a good position going into their next qualifier against Switzerland, who are level on points with them at the moment.

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Srečko Katanec’s side are the only opposition to have netted against England in the qualifiers so far as the reverse fixture saw Roy Hodgson’s men win 3-1 at Wembley.

England come into this one off the back of their 0-0 friendly draw with the Republic of Ireland last weekend and will need to show more hunger and determination if they are to pick up the three points here.

The Three Lions have won all five of their qualifiers so far and will feel they have a great chance of getting through the group stages without losing.

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Hodgson’s side are unbeaten in their last ten games and they have only conceded three goals in those outings.

Team News

Slovenia will more than likely line-up in their preferred 4-1-3-2 formation. The England faithful will be familiar with Inter Milan’s Stefan Handanovic, the Slovenia number one. Veteran goalscorer, Milivoje Novakovic, will hope to spoil England’s 100% run.

England welcome back Fabian Delph after his injury, other than that, Hodgson has no other concerns to his squad. Charlie Austin will hope this will be his chance for his England debut.

Key Points

Slovenia’s last five: W/L/L/W/L

England’s last five: W/W/W/W/D

Key Stat: England have not lost a game since the World Cup last summer.

Key Player: Wayne Rooney – The England captain is still waiting to become the all time leading goalscorer in their history and will expect to inspire his side to victory.

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Score Prediction

Slovenia 1-2 England – A closer encounter than the reverse fixture in a hostile away tie for England.

Done Deal: Is new Liverpool signing ideal Gerrard replacement?

The news from Liverpool this morning is that the club have agreed to sign James Milner from Manchester City on a free transfer.

The 29-year-old midfielder has left City in search for regular playing time and the vacant space from Steven Gerrard‘s Major League Soccer departure makes it an ideal move for both parties.

Milner can be used as a utility man, having played just about everywhere on the pitch, but this could be his chance to lock down a more consistent role in the middle of the park.

He brings in experience at the highest level, although not as decorated as Gerrard, his Champions and Europa League experience is vital for Liverpool in their quest to break back into the top four.

Despite Gerrard and Milner being different types of players, the two do draw similarities. Defensively Milner is a very tidy player, with a no nonsense, tough tackling approach, but he deserves recognition for his attacking side to the game.

Milner played in 32 of City’s Premier League games this season, but frustratingly for him, 14 of those were from the bench. He scored five goals and registered seven assists. The England International has played predominantly on the righthand side but a move infield could be favourable and could also be a bonus for the national side, as he would be playing alongside his England teammate, Jordan Henderson.

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Milner has a winning mentality, having won two Premier League titles, two FA Cups and a League Cup in his time with the Manchester club.

As a free transfer this is a positive signing for Liverpool, Milner is in the peak of his career and could potentially be at the club for the remainder of his playing days.

Is James Milner a good signing for Liverpool and can he help to fill the void left by Gerrard?

2014/15 Premier League Season Review: West Ham

Premier League Final Position: 12th 

Review

West Ham endured a dismal second half of the season, which finished with a 2-0 loss away to Newcastle United, and following the release of Sam Allardyce, the club are now looking for a new manager in what was a season of two halves.

Interestingly if the season had started at Christmas then West Ham would have been relegated based on their form as they only managed 16 points from their last 21 matches.

It’s very much looking like a season for the Hammers to build on though as they played some very attractive football in places, especially early on. Whoever the new manager is, they have a decent platform in the current squad to build on.

And should they capture their early season form to start the coming season, there is no reason to rule out a European place come next May but finding consistency is crucial.

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Podcast Review

Best Moment

The 2-1 win over Manchester City was the highlight of a very good start to the season for the Hammers as they managed to place fourth at Christmas.

Worst Moment

The final day 2-0 loss to Newcastle was the icing on a very disappointing cake for ‘Big Sam’s’ men. It was Newcastle’s first win in 11 Premier League games and the Hammers’ late season capitulation was highlighted in that game.

Player of the Year

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Stewart Downing – The England International had an amazing season with the Hammers and arguably merited an England recall. With six goals and eight assists he has proved to be a valuable asset for the East London side and will look to improve again next term.

Biggest Win

West Ham 3-0 Hull City (January 18, 2015)

Biggest Defeat

Arsenal 3-0 West Ham (March 14, 2015)

What to improve for the 2015 season…

Consistency. There is a common theme that runs with West Ham and that is their inability to perform at their potential for a prolonged duration. An early season charge was outdone with their late season struggle and this will need addressing in the coming months. The upcoming season will be their last at Upton Park and they will want to leave on a positive note before the move to the Olympic Stadium.

Frank Lampard’s career in numbers ahead of MLS move

Frank Lampard played his final Premier League game on Sunday and signed off in style, winning and scoring as captain of Manchester City. He will be joining up with New York City FC in July, where the fans eagerly await his arrival, as they are struggling at the bottom of the Eastern Conference.

The 36-year-old will turn 37 before his first game for the club, but he has proved age is not a problem in his final Premier League season, scoring six goals in 32 appearances.

He has won a whole host of trophies and personal awards, all of which came in his Chelsea career, throughout his career and his experience is arguably what the NYCFC midfield is lacking.

So lets have a look at Lampard’s career in numbers.

Trophies: 

  • Premier League (3) – 2004/2005, 2005/2006, 2009/2010
  • FA Cup (4) – 2006/2007, 2008/2009, 2009/2010, 2011/2012
  • League Cup (2) – 2004/2005, 2006/2007
  • Champions League – 2011/2012
  • Europa League – 2012/2013
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Notable Individual Awards:

  • Ballon d’Or Silver Award – 2005
  • UEFA Midfielder of the Year – 2008
  • Premier League Player of the Decade – 2001-2010
  • Premier League Player of the Season (2) – 2004/2005, 2005/2006
  • PFA Team of the Year (5) – 2004/2005, 2005/2006, 2006/2007, 2008/2009, 2009/2010
  • Chelsea Player of the Year (3) – 2004, 2005, 2009
  • Chelsea Golden Boot (5) – 2004/2005, 2005/2006, 2007/2008, 2011/2012, 2012/2013
  • Chelsea all-time leading goalscorer – 211 goals
  • England caps – 106

Lampard is renowned for his late arrival into the box and finding the back of the net, which is something NYCFC will surely profit from.

He has scored a staggering 259 club goals in 882 appearances and picked up 106 England caps, scoring 29 goals for his nation.

The former England international will bring a wealth of experience to NYCFC and will be eager to make an impact.

How good will Frank Lampard be for NYCFC and how excited are you about his move to MLS?

Should these two MLS strikers have joined United & Arsenal stars in England team?

England manager Roy Hodgson has just announced the squad for the upcoming international matches against Ireland in a friendly and Slovenia in the European Championship qualifier, but once again, no players from outside English football have been selected.

Charlie Austin of QPR and Jamie Vardy of Leicester City have both been included in the squad for the first time and complete the list of strikers alongside Manchester United and England captain Wayne Rooney, as well as Arsenal‘s Danny Welbeck.

But should Hodgson have looked further afield than just the Premier League? It’s unlikely that Rooney or Welbeck were going to be dropped, so how do Austin and Vardy’s performances this season compare to two Englishmen in MLS over the course of 2014 and 2015?

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New York Red BullsBradley Wright-Phillips and Sporting Kansas City‘s Dom Dwyer are two of the most prolific striker’s in MLS, so here is a breakdown of their numbers weighed up against Austin and Vardy’s:

Austin and Vardy vs BWP and Dwyer

Austin, Vardy, Wright-Phillips and Dwyer’s stats in 2014/15 (Stats via Squawka)

The stats show that Bradley Wright-Phillips has contributed to an incredible 0.85 goals-per-game, which is more than double the amount that Jamie Vardy has for Leicester.

Dom Dwyer also contributes to more goals-per-game than Vardy but isn’t quite as productive as Charlie Austin has been for QPR.

Many will point to the fact that MLS is arguably a weaker league than the Premier League but it’s worth noting that the quality of play in MLS has risen considerably in the last few years, therefore making Wright-Phillips’ and Dwyer’s achievements extremely impressive.

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The last time a player outside of the English football league system featured on international duty was when David Beckham played in a 3-0 win against Belarus in October 2009 while he was playing for LA Galaxy – also an MLS side.

Could the next player from outside English football to feature at international level also be from Major League Soccer?

Chelsea and City set to battle for ‘next John Terry’ – report

Chelsea and Manchester City are considering an offer for Everton‘s John Stones as a long-term investment, according to the Daily Mail.

Stones has been under the watch of Chelsea scouts for the past 18 months and is reportedly seen as a long-term replacement for captain John Terry.

The 20-year-old central defender has impressed over the last two seasons and is tipped to be one of the best in the country as he continues to develop.

Chelsea’s search for John Terry’s replacement may seem premature given that he has played every minute of their Premier League season, but they will need to move quickly for Stones if City are interested.

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This summer could be a good time for Chelsea to sign Stones as his development would be helped by Terry. The former England captain has a formidable partnership with Gary Cahill, who has gone from strength-to-strength since signing for the club in 2012.

Manchester City are targeting younger British stars to meet homegrown quota regulations, and Stones is an ideal candidate. The Englishman has four caps and has become one of the first names on the team-sheet for Roberto Martinez.

City’s defence has been questioned this season as they failed to put up much of a challenge for the Premier League title and Manuel Pellegrini is expected to strengthen his options this summer.

Everton are not looking to offload Stones but with the financial power of Chelsea and City they could well be forced into accepting bids upwards of £20 million for their starlet.

Stones has been likened to Terry for his no nonsense and calm approach. He netted his first Everton goal in their 3-0 win over Manchester United last month with a powerful header.

Will Stones move on this summer? Could he be the next John Terry?

Is this future Liverpool captain the man to build the team around?

With the season drawing to a close and the imminent departure of Steven Gerrard, Liverpool face a summer of change as they will look to mount another challenge on the top four in the Premier League next season.

With England international Raheem Sterling currently stalling on a new contract, Liverpool have acted quickly to nail down future captain Jordan Henderson to a new five-year deal in what could be their best business this summer as Manchester City were circling.

Henderson has been sensational this season and has arguably been the Reds’ best player. Yet it was Philippe Coutinho who made the PFA Team of the Season. So is the England International undervalued?

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Current vice-captain, Henderson is the expected replacement for the long-serving Gerrard once he leaves for the LA Galaxy in the summer, having been an ever-present figure in Brendan Rodgers’ side this term.

Henderson has made huge steps this season towards being the midfield player that Liverpool need and signing him to a new contract and fighting off interest from other clubs is paramount to Liverpool’s project.

So compared to the other marquee midfielders in the side, how does Henderson fair?

Sterling Coutinho Henderson
Appearances 33 32 34
Goals 7 5 6
Assists 7 5 8

Should Sterling decide not to agree a new deal by the end of the summer, it’s a huge possibility that Liverpool will want to cash in on him while they can.

They will need to bring in reinforcements regardless of Sterling’s situation but Jordan Henderson is arguably the man to build a team around if the Reds are to remain a force at the top end of the Premier League.

Who is a greater asset for Liverpool – Raheem Sterling, Philippe Coutinho or Jordan Henderson?

Southampton star drops major hint over move to Manchester United

Southampton right-back Nathaniel Clyne has dropped a major hint that he could be heading for the St Mary’s exit door this summer, especially if the Saints don’t qualify for Champions League football.

“I’m an ambitious person and want to try and win the title and play in the Champions League. It’s nice to hear teams are interested in you.” Clyne said according to the Express.

The news that Clyne is desperate to play in a team that can challenge for the title and offer him a chance to play in Europe’s elite competition will put Manchester United on red alert as they seek top quality strength in depth.

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The 24-year-old right-back has been a mainstay in the Premier League‘s most formidable defence this season as Southampton have conceded fewer goals than any other team, with Clyne’s consistency one of the key reasons behind their success.

Clyne has made 29 league appearances for the Saints and a recent call-up to the England sqaud has made him highly sought after considering he still has his best years ahead of him.

Southampton would undoubtedly demand a hefty transfer fee for the Englishman who joined from Crystal Palace in 2012 and we could expect an offer that they would consider reasonable to be in a similar region to the £27 million fee that United paid the Saints for Luke Shaw.

Ronald Koeman has insisted that Southampton will do everything they can to retain the services of their best players and will be keen to avoid another summer exodus.

“We know it’s not easy as maybe there is some interest. At the moment, there is not a serious bid for whichever player in the team, but we’ll do everything to keep them.”

Would Nathaniel Clyne be a good signing for Manchester United?

Wayne Rooney says England are to be feared

Wayne Rooney has stated England have what it takes to be feared as a footballing nation as they maintain their 100 per cent record in Euro 2016 qualifiers.

Speaking to Sky Sports ahead of England’s friendly with Italy on Tuesday night, the Manchester United forward feels the players have what it takes to be feared.

“The players are so quick and when we lose the ball we want to be aggressive and win it back quickly.

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“I am sure you have heard the manager talk about those little ‘furies’ – that when we lose the ball we have to win it back as quickly as possible.

“With the players we have got, we have to play like that.”

England are unbeaten in their last eight games, winning the last seven, and have rapidly improved since their hugely disappointing World Cup performance in 2014.

And Rooney has highlighted the importance of teams not wanting to face England.

“You don’t want to go into games and teams enjoy playing against you.

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“You want teams to look at England and think, ‘we know we have a tough game, it is going to physically hard against them, we are going to have to defend and we are going to have to be good on the ball to keep the ball’.”

England face arguably their toughest task since the World Cup last year on Tuesday evening against Italy and can send out a message to other nations if they can defeat the four-time World Champions in Turin.

Are England a nation to fear in world football?