Player ratings: England 2-0 France

Date published: Tuesday 17th November 2015 11:33

Dele Alli

Joe Hart
Pro: Made two comfortable diving saves.
Con: Long-range distribution continues to slightly frustrate.
Conclusion: By far and away England’s No. 1. And that isn’t going to change any time soon. Sorry Jack.

 

Nathaniel Clyne
As explained in Raheem Sterling’s section later on, England’s lopsided formation allows Clyne to surge forward at will. He did exactly that, twice crossing into the box and typically operating ahead of the halfway line. Bigger tests to come defensively, and it’s there where Roy Hodgson’s reservations lie.

 

Kieran Gibbs
Better going forward than in defence, but his attacking threat diminishes slightly with Sterling doing so much of the work on that left wing. His biggest problem continues to be Nacho Monreal’s form for Arsenal.

 

Gary Cahill
Stretched to deny Andre-Pierre Gignac an early chance, but otherwise largely untested by an understandably subdued French side. Has kept five clean sheets in his six England starts during 2015 though, which Hodgson will be very keen on indeed.

 

John Stones
Like Dele Alli and Eric Dier ahead of him, Stones has slotted into England’s side with remarkable ease for someone so young. His composure on the ball is striking every time he plays at international level. With him, Cahill, Chris Smalling and Phil Jagielka all vying for two starting positions, England’s manager has tough calls to make. Fire up the cliche machine: These are nice headaches to have.

 

Eric Dier
Like a good referee, Dier may be at his best for England when he goes unnoticed (and we keep a clean sheet). Strode forward infrequently, but he is in the side to break up play in as composed fashion as possible. Winning possession on ten occasions – three more than any other England player – indicates a good night’s work on that front.

 

Dele Alli
‘The typical missive is not to pile too much pressure on young English players, and that’s wholly appropriate. But that doesn’t mean we can’t get hugely excited about Alli’s progress and potential. This kid looks the real deal’ – Winners and Losers, last Monday.

Yep, same. Alli has only started eight Premier League games, but should be advised against popping into Thomas Cook to make summer 2016 plans. If scoring a wonderful first-half goal pencilled his name in Hodgson’s Euro 2016 squad, leaving Paul Pogba on his arse for the build-up to the second goal virtually printed off the boarding card.

From youth team to first team, League One to Premier League, club level to international level, each of Alli’s steps up have been achieved with an ease so rarely seen in a young English player. His first international goal – on his first start – may have been deflected, but you just try and stop the hype bus. You know what, we can’t help but climb on board.

 

Ross Barkley
Struggled to have the impact of Alli, but neat and tidy enough with the ball. Barkley has still not quite found his role within England’s midfield, but there is no doubt Hodgson will have patience.

 

Raheem Sterling
Beautiful cross for Wayne Rooney’s goal, most pleasingly with his left foot. The second major positive was a total of five tackles made, more than any other player from either side while he was on the pitch. Despite what some may say, the attitude is there to match aptitude.

The greatest compliment to Sterling – at 20 – is that international teams are now doubling up on him. Although that can detract from his own individual impact, for England’s slightly lopsided 4-3-3, that’s incredibly useful. It allows whichever striker is nominally picked in a wide right role to tuck in, and Clyne maraud down the entire right flank.

The only downside is that Sterling is not yet a match-winner for England, but again, again, again, he’s only 20. That’s a full year younger than Barkley. Patience people.

 

Harry Kane
Four England starts without a goal, but still an evening of more positives than negatives for Kane. His link-up play against France was exactly what Hodgson will hope for next summer, and his Roy of the Rovers-esque harrying and hassling is deeply enjoyable following a generation where you worried that they weren’t all giving their all.

As an aside, watching him celebrate Alli’s goal before it went in made me happier than it probably should have.

 

Wayne Rooney
A heavy touch for an early chance, but after that this was much, much better from Rooney. His international form continues to far eclipse his displays for Manchester United.

Did brilliantly to skin Laurent Koscielny before firing wide in the first half, but his best moment came when slamming a volley past Hugo Lloris from a superb Sterling cross. Fifty-one goals and counting, Rooney will have a chance to extend his record goal tally for a while yet. His club form really doesn’t matter to Uncle Roy.

 

Subs:

Jack Butland (for Hart, 46)
Made the best save of the night and claimed two crosses perfectly. Butland barely puts a foot wrong, which makes him incredibly unfortunate to be behind a goalkeeper as accomplished as Hart.

Adam Lallana (for Sterling, 68)
Can’t get excited about him in an England shirt. Sorry.

Jonjo Shelvey (for Barkley, 79)
I didn’t make a single note.

Ryan Bertrand (for Kane, 80)
Same as above. England have a lot of decent enough left-backs, don’t they?

Phil Jones (for Alli, 88)
Brought on with the sole purpose of giving Alli a standing ovation.

 

Daniel Storey

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