MLSGB’s predicted England lineup vs Malta

Take a look at MLSGB‘s predicted England lineup vs Malta for their World Cup Qualifier on Friday evening. Gareth Southgate will set up to attack so 3-5-2 is the most likely formation. Although England should win comfortably they are still going to have to get goals early to ensure it is not a dragged out affair.

England lineup vs Malta: Defence

We expect Joe Hart to start in goal. Jordan Pickford’s withdrawal from the squad means the West Ham man is the front-runner to take the number one shirt. Burnley’s Tom Heaton will feel hard done by, but Hart’s experience makes his inclusion more likely.

John Stones, Gary Cahill and Michael Keane have all made strong starts to the Premier League season. The three of them are comfortable on the ball so they are capable of helping to break Malta down.

Kyle Walker and Ryan Bertrand are the obvious choices for wing-backs. The pair have great attacking ability and love to get forward. Even if they are caught out of position there is enough cover with the three behind them.

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England lineup vs Malta: Midfield

Southgate has a difficult choice for the two midfielders in the holding role given how many options he has. However we feel it will be Eric Dier and Jordan Henderson who make the cut. Dele Alli will sit in front of the two, providing the necessary flare and qualities to unlock the Malta backline.

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England lineup vs Malta: Attack

The attacking pairing is Southgate’s most difficult selection for us. Harry Kane start despite the fact he failed to find the back of the net in August. Kane’s partner for this one could be any of the other attacking options in the squad. Jamie Vardy will be hoping for some minutes but we think Marcus Rashford’s impressive start to the season will earn him a place in the starting XI.

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What would your England lineup be for the game against Malta?

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World Cup Qualifier Preview and Prediction: England vs Lithuania

Competition: World Cup 2018 Qualifier – England vs. Lithuania
Venue: Wembley – Sunday, March 26th – 17:00 GMT (13:00 ET
Match Odds: England 1/8 – Draw 7/1 – Lithuania 22/1

Match Preview

England welcome Lithuania to Wembley on Sunday evening in the 5th game of their World Cup Qualifiers. The Group F table is much as you’d expect, with England unbeaten in their previous four outings but there is plenty of work for Gareth Southgates side still to do.

The Three Lions have ten points from their four games and this fixture should be straightforward enough for them. The quality of the England attack should be more than capable of unlocking the Lithuania defence.

England have not lost a home World Cup Qualifier (Europe) since 2000, winning 18 of 20 games and have conceded just eight goals in those games. If those stats are anything to go by England should be comfortably winning to nil.

Lithuania have been no mugs so far in the qualifications rounds and are still in contention to reach the finals. They have five points from four games and trail second place by just three points.

They come into this one having lost 4-0 to Slovakia away from home. If Lithuania want to be challenging until the latter stages of the qualification rounds they will want to put in a respectable performance here so they can go into their next two home games with confidence of picking up positive results.

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Team News

Southgate will more than likely make changes to the England side that lost on Wednesday evening. Gary Cahill is suspended and Chris Smalling has pulled out through injury, Ben Gibson has been called up as his replacement. This may mean Southgate will revert back to four at the back rather than three. John Stones will more than likely start and Michael Keane should keep his place in the starting XI. Ross Barkley and Raheem Sterling will be hoping to feature.

The Lithuania squad boast no real household names, so no surprises should be expected from them here. They will work extremely hard to cause England a tricky evening but as huge underdogs you can expect them to lineup with a packed out defence and midfield, possibly in a 4-5-1 or 5-4-1 formation.

Key Points

England’s last five: W/D/W/D/L

Lithuania’s last five: D/D/W/L/L

Key Stat: England remain unbeaten in the qualifying rounds and haven’t conceded.

Key Player: Dele Alli – The Spurs midfielder will be looking to have a huge impact on the game and continue his impressive season. His surging runs with and without the ball will cause Lithuania all sorts of problems this weekend.

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Score Prediction

England 4-0 Lithuania – Gareth Southgate’s side should be looking at a comfortable win here. They’ll be hoping to score early and settle the game down. If England have a healthy lead by half-time then Southgate will give some of the players on the bench some minutes. Lithuania will be resilient in keeping England out but for how long they can manage to do so is questionable.

World Cup Qualifier Preview and Prediction: Slovenia vs England

Competition: World Cup 2018 Qualification – Slovenia vs England

Venue: Stožice Stadium – Tuesday, October 11 – 19:45 BST (14:45 ET) 

Match Odds: Slovenia 19/4 – Draw 5/2 – England 4/6

Match Preview

Slovenia host England in both side’s third Group F World Cup Qualifying game on Tuesday night, with the Three Lions looking to make it three wins from three and remain top of the group.

Slovenia started their campaign with a 2-2 draw in Lithuania but followed it up with a 1-0 home win over Slovakia on Saturday and now sit joint-second with Scotland in Group F, two points behind leaders England.

Tuesday night’s game is a great chance for Slovenia to prove their credentials as they look to qualify for a major tournament for the first time since the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, in which they were drawn in the same group as England.

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They have a strong home record and are tough the break down, so will be confident of getting a result against Gareth Southgate’s men here.

For England, it’s a chance to take full control of the group by keeping their 100% record intact in what is one of the campaign’s toughest away games.

The Three Lions have already won away at Slovakia in their opening Group F game and have more than enough quality in the squad to leave Slovenia with three points on Tuesday.

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Southgate will have been pleased with the win over Malta but will know that he’s being judged on how he sets his side up for games like this one. A win in Ljubljana would start to change people’s minds on whether he’s the right man for the job in the long run.

This will be the fifth meeting between the two nations. England have won all four prior to this, winning home and away in qualification for Euro 2016 over the last two years.

Team News

Slovenia have been rocked by the loss of their star man Kevin Kampl, with the Bayer Leverkusen midfielder withdrawing from the squad through exhaustion. Atletico Madrid goalkeeper Jan Oblak will expect to be busy in goal but will back his abilities as he looks to keep a second clean sheet in a week.

England have lost Tom Heaton and Ryan Bertrand through injury, with Kieran Gibbs and Jordan Pickford coming into the squad. Wayne Rooney is expected to start the game on the bench, with Eric Dier likely to come into midfield in order to offer some solid protection in what is expected to be a tougher game than the home clash against Malta. Marcus Rashford will be hoping for a start but may have to make an impact off the bench.

Key Points

Slovenia’s last five: L/D/L/D/W

England’s last five: W/D/L/W/W

Key Stat: Slovenia have only lost three of their last 13 home games, keeping clean sheets in eight of those games.

Key Player: Dele Alli – The young Tottenham midfielder scored his second England goal in the win over Malta on Saturday and will be looking to star for Southgate once again here. In what is expected to be a tight game, Alli will need to use his creativity to try and unlock a stern Slovenian defence.

Score Prediction

Slovenia 0-1 England – This will likely be another difficult away game for England. They managed to break down Slovakia in the dying minutes and will need to be prepared to face another resilient defence here. But, given the quality in this England side, they should be able to leave Slovenia with all three points.

World Cup Qualifier Preview and Prediction: England vs Malta

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

Match Preview

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.

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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.

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Team News

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.

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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.

Key Points

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.

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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.

Score Prediction

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.

REACTION: Gareth Southgate selects his England U21 squad but is it good enough?

Gareth Southgate has announced his 27-man preliminary England squad for the UEFA Under 21 European Championships this summer and there were some high profile names omitted from the squad.

Raheem Sterling, Ross Barkley, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Jack Wilshere are all absent from the squad, despite being available for selection. It will be interesting to see how many of them play for the senior team next month when they face Republic of Ireland and Slovenia, as Southgate will not have them available at this summer’s tournament.

Of the selected 27 players, they accumulate just 268 Premier League appearances this season, and average just 10 league appearances each, with 11 members of the squad playing outside the Premier League this season.

Player Parent Club Premier League appearances 2014-15
Marcus Bettinelli Fulham 0
Jonothan Bond Watford 0
Jack Butland Stoke City 3
Calum Chambers Arsenal 23
Eric Dier Tottenham 27
Luke Garbutt Everton 4
Ben Gibson Middlesborough 0
Carl Jenkinson Arsenal 31
Michael Keane Burnley 20
Liam Moore Leicester City 11
John Stones Everton 22
Matt Targett Southampton 6
Tom Carroll Tottenham 13
Nathaniel Chalobah Chelsea 0
Will Hughes Derby County 0
Jake Forster-Caskey Brighton and Hove Albion 0
Jesse Lingard Manchester United 1
Ruben Loftus-Cheek Chelsea 3
Alex Pritchard Tottenham 0
Nathan Redmond Norwich City 0
James Ward-Prowse Southampton 24
Benik Afobe Wolves 0
Patrick Bamford Chelsea 0
Saido Berahino West Brom 37
Harry Kane Tottenham 33
Danny Ings Burnley 34
Cauley Woodrow Fulham 0

In all honesty it is a weaker squad than anticipated, especially when you consider the midfielders selected have only made 41 league appearances between the nine of them, averaging under 5 appearances each. A shocking statistic for a squad that are deemed as favourites as Gareth Southgate has suggested.

When speaking about his selections, Southgate had this to say: “The group dynamic is important and we’ve taken the learnings on board and this group of players have opportunity to set the standard.

“We want to go and play in a certain style this summer and, yes, we want to win but it can’t be the sole focus. Development is key.”

But once again, should England fail to win the championship, questions will be asked about how strong the squad that was taken and should senior players have been selected?

However, Southgate has said: “We feel we should reward this group for what they’ve achieved up until now.

“We’ve worked closely with Roy (Hodgson) about what’s right thing for each player and the experience.” So if the worst was to happen and England crash out of the tournament again, like they did in Israel two years ago, Hodgson will be as much to blame as anyone.

The big debate is that if players are fit and available to be selected for the Under 21s then they probably should be.

Do you think the current England Under 21 squad is strong enough to win the European Championships, or should a stronger team have been selected?

Will we see the ‘Best England’ at the Under-21 European Championships?

The England Under-21s will be heading to the European Championships in the Czech Republic this summer but how strong will their squad be? Jamie Ives weighs up what sort of team we should see in June.

If Roy Hodgson is to be believed, it will be as strong as head coach, Gareth Southgate wants it to be. And with FA Chairman Greg Dyke’s ‘England DNA project’ well under way, there is added pressure to perform this summer.

The England Manager said in November that: “My policy is this: After Gareth Southgate has picked his squad, I will pick my squad”. This is a clear indication that should he wish, Southgate will be able to take senior players such as Jack Wilshere and Raheem Sterling to the Euros as they are eligible to play for the Under-21 squad.

Any player born on or after 1 January 1992 can play for the Under-21s in Czech Republic so players up to the age of 23 could feature for Southgate’s side.

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When speaking to the Mirror in December, Southgate went on record stating that: “If players haven’t been with us for the qualification campaign and are only being parachuted in five days before, well what about the work we have been doing?” And he has a point.

The current Under-21 teams consists of many players that will fall short of the ‘ideal team’ if everyone that is eligible travels to the competition. Though surely they have earned their place in the team by getting the team through qualifying without losing a match (W9 D1 L0)?

There will be a strong cases made that England should take the likes of Jack Wilshere, Raheem Sterling and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to the championships if they are to have the best chance of winning. But in recent years, the players with senior caps tend to stay in the senior camp.

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Other European nations take their best players to any youth competition as it gives younger players the opportunity to experience the tough demands of tournament football before playing in a World Cup or European Championship.

Though that has not been a system used in England, so who will be on the plane to the Czech Republic in June?

For England to be successful at senior level it is pivotal that the younger players are allowed to develop, not only to gain experience at international level, but also to pick up that vital experience of playing in a major tournament. Especially if they have a squad with a much talent to choose from as the current crop.

In order for England to develop as a football nation, Southgate has to take the best available squad and he must be given time to work with them. A strong Under-21 side with a common agenda and understanding of what needs to be done will be overwhelming favorites to win this summer.

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Winning the Under-21 European Championship for the first time in 31 years would be a huge boost for the nation and could propel the senior team to further success in years to come. Much like the Germany Under-21s did in 2009 as their senior team then won the 2014 FIFA World Cup five years later.

This is arguably the best possible England Under-21 starting XI that Gareth Southgate could choose:

Goalkeeper: Jack Butland (Stoke City)

Defenders: Calum Chambers (Arsenal), John Stones (Everton), Phil Jones (Manchester United), Luke Shaw (Manchester United).

Midfielders: Jack Wilshere (Arsenal), Tom Carroll (Tottenham – on loan at Swansea City), Raheem Sterling (Liverpool), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal), Ross Barkley (Everton).

Striker: Harry Kane (Tottenham).

Is this England's best possible starting XI for the Under-21 European Championship? (Via Lineupbuilder.com)

Is this England’s best possible starting XI for the Under-21 European Championship? (Via Lineupbuilder.com) 

Who do you think deserves to start for the England Under-21s at this summer’s tournament?