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Major Defensive Concerns For England After Kosovo Win


England once again outgunned a team in qualifying for Euro
2020, as Gareth Southgate’s team hammered Kosovo 5-3 at St Mary’s. The
front three of Harry Kane, Jadon Sancho and once again Raheem Sterling
were simply outstanding.

All three got on the scoresheet and posed a constant danger to the
opposition defence for a fourth straight qualifier the Three Lions
scored four or more. While there are few concerns about England’s
attack, there were major alarm bells at the back.

Keane and Maguire looked vulnerable

Everton’s Michael Keane and Manchester United’s Harry Maguire cost
fees of £110million between them. The pair are usually very solid for
their club sides, yet they looked vulnerable on Tuesday night.

Both made individual mistakes during the game. However, it seems that
it is Keane’s mistake that has gained the most focus. In reality,
neither of the now highly experienced centre-backs covered themselves in
glory against a lively Kosovan attack.

Ironically, Keane has enjoyed something of a renaissance at Everton
over the last year or so. This revival led to his inclusion in the
England team at the heart of the defence. His performance certainly did
not do his chances of maintaining a starting spot any good.

However, Maguire also needs to up his game. As a pair, they just
didn’t look good enough. The fact that the two full-backs were the
inexperienced Trent Alexander-Arnold and Ben Chilwell may not have
helped either. Both are good prospects, but they are raw at
international level.

A centre-back conundrum for England

Once in the not so distant past, England had a plethora of
centre-back options. Now Gareth Southgate’s centre-back options are not
great. Despite his mistake against Kosovo, Maguire is first-choice in
the position.

Manchester City’s John Stones has lost his way in recent months
through a loss of form and injury. When fit he is likely to partner
Maguire in the heart of defence. The other options beyond Keane are the
likes of inexperienced Joe Gomez, uncapped Tyrone Mings. James Tarkowski
and Lewis Dunk have also played in recent internationals.

The central defensive position could prove to be a headache for
Gareth Southgate and his team. Kosovo made the most of the home team’s
defensive vulnerabilities superbly. It could have been far worse for the
Three Lions, as Kosovo looked a constant attacking threat. On another
day the visitors may have taken something from the game.

England need to improve defensively to win Euro 2020

England are now regarded as one of the best teams in the European game. In fact, Gareth Southgate’s team are now odds of 9/2 to win Euro 2020, with only world champions France shorter odds with some bookmakers to win next years tournament.

They certainly have the attacking players to win a major tournament.
However, defensively England needs to improve majorly. The Three Lions
could be embarrassed defensively against the better teams in Europe.

There are definitely signs of a potentially trophy-winning team, but
Southgate needs to find a solution to the defensive problems. Hopefully,
now that Stones is back fit and in the Manchester City team he can
return to top form and prove to be the solution to England’s defensive
problems.

If not, then that may prove a major stumbling block to England claiming only their second-ever trophy in the international game.

Is John Stones the answer to England’s defensive concerns?

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Last Updated: September 11, 2019

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