F365's England v Norway Player Ratings

There is a growing sense that the weakest player in England's front six may well have just been made captain. At least Raheem Sterling is a wonderful ray of light...

Last Updated: 04/09/14 at 10:21 Post Comment

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Joe Hart
A night during which Hart was expected to be yawningly untested ended with England's goalkeeper actually enhancing his reputation, however unnecessary that is for him to retain his place as No. 1. The first half brought only a diving hold from Tarik Elyounoussi, but his fingertip save from Josh King's header after the break was superb. Hart was also alert in thwarting King following a weak back-pass from Gary Cahill. This makes it 23 clean sheets in 44 internationals.


John Stones
Stones can be largely happy with his night's work, solid and calm in almost all he did on his first start and the only player on the pitch with a 100% pass accuracy during the first half. Stones is the opposite of Glen Johnson as a right-back, in that England lacked anyone marauding from the full-back area, but supporters and manager were also saved from the heart-in-mouth moments that Johnson's defensive flaws typically cause. For that at least, we should be grateful. The only black mark was losing his header to King at a corner, from which the striker almost scored.


Gary Cahill
Rarely tested, if at all, during the first half, but when you have so little to do mistakes stick out like the proverbial sore thumb. Cahill's limp back-pass to Hart on 53 minutes barely made it half way to his goalkeeper, and could have caused England much embarrassment. Should we expect more from England's senior central defender? Is it sad or worrying that Cahill has even reached that status? The next 18 months may reveal answers to both, starting on Monday.


Phil Jones
More assured than Cahill beside him, and an aerial threat in both boxes, Daniel Sturridge was the only player on the pitch to have more shots than Jones. Hodgson's decision to pick the Manchester United defender was his only unenforced selection dilemma, and it appears to be a meaningful call. The first-choice centre back role is now Jones' to lose.


Leighton Baines
Baines' presence in the team was entirely understandable given injuries to Luke Shaw and Kieran Gibbs, but it was another night on which my opinion that he simply isn't good enough for international football feels vindicated. Much of Baines' impact at Everton comes from his set piece quality, but he had one limp attempt courtesy of a first-half free kick and then passed on corner duties to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. He didn't play particularly poorly (although he was rarely tested by Mats Daehli) but it makes you wonder what the point of his inclusion is, particularly as Baines was England's oldest player. Sorry Leighton, but that starting place feels like a temporary measure.


Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
Another performance on the right wing that made you cry out for Theo Walcott; Oxlade-Chamberlain seems to have an unhelpful knack of hiding his obvious pace very effectively. Seemed keen to cross the ball at the earliest opportunity during the first half, and his corners left an awful lot to be desired. Comparing Oxlade-Chamberlain's performance on one flank with Raheem Sterling's on the other (two years his junior) makes for an unhappy judgement - at 21, these are the opportunities that must be grasped with both hands.


Jordan Henderson
Evidently less noticeable in Norway's half than Jack Wilshere, but that owed much to Henderson's selection as England's deepest midfielder. He was simple in possession and incredibly busy, making 110 passes and enjoying 117 touches of the ball, 40 more than any other player on the night. There are still valid questions as to whether the more reserved role removes the strengths Henderson shows for Liverpool, but he seems Hodgson's best option after the retirement of Steven Gerrard. Whether or not he has the defensive aptitude to deal with Xherdan Shaqiri remains a question to be answered on Monday.


Jack Wilshere
Although Wilshere took the departed Gerrard's place in England's team, he was able to operate slightly further forward and gained some joy in doing so, enjoying the odd interchange with Sterling and Sturridge that actually threatened to raise a cheer from the sparse crowd. He faded slightly during the second half, but now has the chance to make a midfield spot his own for the foreseeable future. Failed to win a penalty for what I'm labelling as 'manufactured contact'.


Raheem Sterling
England's youngest player is now also surely our best, deservedly named Man of the Match. This was not a vintage night for Sterling, but the spark when he picks up the ball is greater than any other of England's front six, of that there is no doubt. With that in mind, it makes sense for Hodgson to build his side around Sterling, and that surely means him operating in a No. 10 role - he did finally get there for the last 20 minutes. Sterling won the penalty after beating Omar Elabdellaoui for the umpteenth time and of England's 11 key passes, he made seven. Scary to think that this was only his fifth international start. However dreary it looks at times, this is a ray of light to pierce through the cloud.


Wayne Rooney
Captain Rooney's first half told its own depressing story: Fewest passes of any England outfield player, the lowest pass completion of any England outfield player, the fewest touches of any England outfield player and 100% of the game's off-sides. The second half didn't improve enough to make it anything but a worryingly poor night for England's supposed most important player, despite his emphatically taken penalty. The concern for Roy Hodgson is that the weakest player in his front six is the man he has just made captain. "I obviously don't know how it could affect my role, that is something you'd have to ask Louis van Gaal," was Rooney's response to questions over Radamel Falcao's arrival at Old Trafford this week. He may be thankful for the importance we place on a piece of material worn around the arm at both club and international level.


Daniel Sturridge
It is difficult to blame a striker for having a 'shoot first' mentality, but there are still times when Sturridge picks the wrong option. He was dispossessed five times (three more than any other England player), and was also slightly guilty of snatching at his chances (all four of Sturridge's shots were off-target). Despite that criticism, Sturridge was probably the second best performer in England's front six, combining wonderfully with Sterling and Wilshere around the box on occasion. Failing to have an attempt on goal of any sort during the second half may have worried Hodgson slightly, but not enough to see Sturridge as anything other than his principal striker for the Euro 2016 campaign.


James Milner
As a friend texted me when Milner was taking to the field, "This game needs bringing to life. We've brought on James Milner." The first thing I wrote down was a shanked pass that made him look at the ground in a desperate search for a bobble. Useful as a squad player at a major tournament for his versatility alone. This was not a major tournament.


Fabian Delph
A neat and tidy 20 minutes with which Delph should be content. It was immensely difficult for the Aston Villa midfielder to make anything more than a negligible contribution, but he came close to getting on the end of Danny Welbeck's low cross. Whether his display was enough to stay in the squad when injured players return remains to be seen.


Danny Welbeck
The Arsenal forward (that'll feel weird for a while) was given only 20 minutes to make an impact, but that he almost did, a turn and shot almost beating Ørjan Haskjold Nyland at his near post. A pass across the face of goal also caused panic in the Norwegian box. No longer a starter for England, in this formation at least, but a more than useful option from the bench.


Calum Chambers
Made one surge down the right flank in his nine minutes, which stood out as being entirely different to John Stones' style. Could potentially earn enough caps to make Ryan Shawcross green with envy.


Phil Jagielka
He's now 32, which surprised me.


Rickie Lambert
Had two minutes. Won one header.

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