An Arsenal-style England XI: Saka needs Trent if Ben White is out of the picture

Editor F365
Mikel Arteta. Eberechi Eze and Trent Alexander-Arnold
Mikel Arteta. Eberechi Eze and Trent Alexander-Arnold

Bukayo Saka has been poor for England since that first game v Serbia but what do you expect with Kyle Walker? Something has to change…

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Was that all a bit sh*t?
So the group stages are finally over. I have to say overall I have enjoyed it (England not withstanding). One thing I will say about Euro24 is that quality wise it ranks on par with a group of League Two teams playing pre-season friendlies.

Considering the players playing I seen so little skill on show it has been mind blowing. The finishing has been abysmal and I can honestly say that not one team over three matches has impressed me at all.

Is this just me and I am missing something or do other people think I’m right?
Paul Norris

READ: Euro 2024 Power Rankings: Austria top-ranked side in bottom half of lopsided knockout draw


An Arteta-style England XI
In a rival website/app to Football365, there was an article outlining how England’s players are not being asked to do the job they perform so admirably at club level. The positions may be similar, but the actual jobs are different.

May I be allowed to proffer my England XI, based on being an Arsenal fan, and based on getting the best out of Saka? It’d be the Arteta 4-3-3 with wide forwards and interchanging striker & left 8:


Trent – Stones – Guehi – Walker

Foden – Rice – Bellingham

Saka – Kane – Eze

Pickford – we need a good goalie, Pickford’s a good goalie

Trent at right-back – the reason is that even though he’s not a great defender, he’s a very good attacking fullback. He has a good engine, good passing, can cross, and can play sweet short triangles around the oppo’s penalty area

Stones & Guehi – they’ve been very good so far and are England’s best centre-backs. Stones is welcome to join midfield at times, like Saliba does

Walker at left-back – the reason is that he’s a very accomplished and modern defender. For me, he inverts into midfield from left back like Zinchenko does. If Stones decides to join midfield at some point, then Walker stays back with Guehi

Foden is RCM – the reason is that Arsenal is built around Odegaard, who is a dinky little swivel-hipped left-footed creator and shooter. In fact it’s likely that Foden is possibly even better at doing what Odegaard does than Odegaard himself. He’s a fab player, and fits in to England’s shameless Arteta style XI

Rice at CM – Arsenal have Declan Rice sitting and, well, not quite pulling strings but conducting the orchestra. Who better to recreate for England what Declan Rice does for Arsenal than Declan Rice?

Bellingham is LCM – Arsenal play a kinda peculiar hybrid “left 8”, which is a combination of a box to box midfielder, an advanced midfielder, a midfielder with licence to roam left, and a midfielder who is allowed to swap places, or join with, the striker. The left 8 is pretty much what Bellingham plays for Real now. Kinda.

Saka RW – the reason is because this is the point of this entire letter. To play for England like he does for Arsenal, he needs Phil Fodegaard and Trentjamin White playing kooky little triangles

Eze Is LW – Arsenal play either a very direct and scary Martinelli (Gordon) or a more stepovery and probey Trossard (Eze). Either work for me, I just like Eze more

Kane up top – he can stay up front, he can drop deep, he can shoot, he can create. He can do what he wants really. Crucially, and possibly controversially, if he wants to drop deep then he can swap with Bellingham.

And that’s my Arteta’s Arsenal England XI. Anyone else want to try applying their club’s tactics to England, for a laugh?
Dale May, Swindon Wengerite

👉 16 Conclusions as England win Group C despite themselves: what does Southgate do now?
👉 Kobbie Mainoo leads the England Clamour rankings; will Gareth Southgate listen?
👉 Harry Kane ‘wandering around like a granny at a car boot’; is Southgate ‘trolling’ us?


Saka is missing his mate
I agree with Kevin Villa and Martin from yesterday’s mailbox. I too think Saka is quite often fairly ordinary for England. I think the reason for this is that he doesn’t have Ben White backing him up. Thanks Steve Holland!

When playing for Arsenal, Saka does nearly always cut inside to get onto his left foot. I’m not even sure his right foot works very well. But, as Saka cuts inside, it makes space between the edge of the penalty area and the touchline for White to run into.

How many times does Saka pass to White, or Saka lay the ball back to a teammate, to then find White who uses his right foot to get the cross in? A lot.

Even the very nature of White making that run can pull the defender away from Saka, which in turn allows him to get the shot in with his left foot.

England don’t or can’t do this. Mostly because Kyle Walker isn’t the same player as Ben White, but also because Steve Holland…

I tend to agree that without his wingman (see what I did there?) Saka is much less effective for England.

Still, if England get knocked out soon, there’s less risk of injury for Saka & Rice. Works for me.
Stu – Gunner in France, waiting for the return of the Premier League


Change has to start with the full-backs
Jeez … where to start.

A lot of the media talk about the players who should have been selected for England feels a little bit to me like discussing rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic – the ship is still going down.

There is no spark, no dynamism … no sign that we are prepared to take a risk.

There appear to be multiple problems, but where Gareth must now earn his corn is recognising the primary issues and correcting them with personnel changes … but he must do this within an environment of the ‘shackles coming off’.

I feel a large chunk of our problems stem from our full-back positions – they have been dog awful all tournament and have offered no meaningful creative outlet (one moment against the Danes aside).

But why is it that important ? …. Well, if you are going to play a relatively narrow system from an attacking width perspective, it means you are reliant on the FBs recognising the space and becoming productive within it – they have not so far.

I don’t blame Trippier within this, playing out of position as he is, and I am not saying that Walker shouldn’t start any other games (he would 100% be starting for me if we are lucky enough to progress to meet France or Spain), but something has to change.

If I see the same FB selection against our next opponents, you’ll be pretty much dead to me Gareth …. it so plainly isn’t working.

Opinions will differ on potential solutions – I personally would go for the best right foot in the England squad at RB (something that is so obvious that I don’t even need to mention his name). What struck me in his time on the pitch yesterday was how much Mainoo was providing positional coverage when he drifted forward and into midfield – clearly something that had been coached a bit – so Mainoo starting in midfield would balance that aspect quite well.

I recognise that we may be less defensively assured as a result of this, but I am prepared to accept that fact, as on the flip side it will add so many more positive options from an attacking perspective than Walker can offer.

LB is not as clear to me (Shaw getting fit, aside) – there is an argument for Gomez to play having played half of Liverpool’s season there or perhaps for Walker to flip to the left. What I wouldn’t do is throw Saka under the bus at that position. I recall him playing a half there for England some time ago and it not going well. Also, he doesn’t appear to have a defensive minded LW option ahead of him meaning that he’d be potentially exposed defensively.

There are evidently problems at the top of the pitch. For me he should be dropping his captain to the bench (not going to happen though) – he is proving to be a millstone around our attacking dynamism.

Cole Palmer impressed yesterday in the small window of opportunity he was given, but I would highlight that if he were selected at RW ahead of Saka it would make a narrow attacking team even narrower (with even greater emphasis on overlapping FBs).

There’s no ideal answer in all this … just like in Kerplunk there is sometimes no ideal straw to pull without a few marbles dropping.

Basically Gareth, you need to grow a pair. You need to make decisive decisions that potentially result in ‘leading’ players being dropped, and you need to do this in a manner that releases the chains that are clearly weighing players down psychologically.

England fans can take not winning silverware, so long as the team has a good go and hopefully impresses others along the way – we have done neither of those things to date.

Weighing up everything, this is the 11 that I would go with next game:


Trent / Stones / Guehi / Gomez

Rice / Bellingham

Saka / Palmer / Foden

Watkins (.. which it won’t be)

Take risks Gareth.

To make an omelette you have to first break some eggs…
Sparky LFC

Wait, are England actually good?
I watched their games. I’m sure they were utter tosh. I’m sure they look disjointed and unable to pass to each other. But they did finish top of their group, right? Without losing, right? Meanwhile France finished second without scoring a goal themselves, Belgium finished second. Portugal have lost to bloody Georgia.

Maybe England are actually good?


No, no they’re not
How can the rank outsiders beat Portugal and make England look even worse, their speed and movement and getting ball to the forwards fast and without many backwards passes. Accurate, speed, resilience and desire exactly what England haven’t shown.

Again, I don’t want to sound the same old words.

But where is England the midfield playmaker? Jack Grealish should have been selected.

Now all I hear  England are going to miss all the strong team in the last 16, ie Germany Spain etc, sure if we had a decent and talented team it’s us every one should be afraid of.
Robert Clark


Southgate’s Brexity choices
Two quick(?) things. First, Southgate isn’t listening. Not to the media, not to the fans, probably not to the players either.

He doesn’t care anymore. Indeed he’s said as much in recent interviews. He knows this is his last roll of the dice and no amount of sense will get in. His time of pretending to consider opinions is over.

Second, Brexit. No, not the vote 8 years ago that people keep moaning about. I mean the notion that some fan choices on preferred England XI are “Brexity”. It’s among the most meaningless concepts imaginable, especially when you note that all the players involved have one basic requirement and that’s to be English. However, in a world where this is apparently a thing, is Kane the most Brexity selection? He’s made to look good by those foreigns and has one job, yet won’t do it when the country needs him to (like strawberry picking, damned lazy students).

Possibly then followed up by selecting Trent, who’s single job is to boot the ball long (classic old skool tactic). And the guy picking these two? A guy that looks like – had he not been a footballer – he would probably have played the biscuit game at boarding school and now be Deputy Head at the same school.

Now that all sounds Brexity to me. Not “putting Mainoo in midfield” or whatever.


Planning for life after Gareth
Someone mentioned that they weren’t happy with England’s performances, might’ve been me, was definitely a David Tennant era Dr Who villain. We have all forgotten the Gareth is the manager we deserve. He was literally the only candidate, in the world, and he still turned the job down!

Gareth is guilty of making it seem like the old problems are fixed. Here is my to do list for life after Gareth:

Move him into an office at St George’s park. The culture that Southgate has built should not be underestimated. He needs to be around to carry it forward. He should always wear a waistcoat.

Bring more social and non-traditional media into the fold. These newspapers don’t actually reach many people anymore but they shout louder. Time to change how the stories are told.

Make the red kit the home kit. It better hides the sunburn.

Either ban the band, or teach it some actual f**king songs. The great escape and God save king are not

Mandatory football song/TikTok video for every tournament.

Sponsorship program for players to join clubs abroad so that they can develop into players not being produced by English clubs. We need an English Busquets and Modric.

Nations League to be England B team only. If you play in the qualifiers, you don’t play in the nations league. No point in Kane having all the caps and goals in the qualifiers and nations league.

That’s more than I thought. Any I miss?
Alex, South London. Loving Georgia


An England dream
Last night I had a dream. It was the final of the World Cup. England were being managed by Carlo Ancelotti. For some reason, he called me up to play in the final. Bear in mind that I’m in my late 50’s and crap at football.

Anyway, there I am, called in to bring a spark to the team. We go 2-0 down. The team becomes dejected and is playing scared and cautious. At this point I sit down with various members of the team to try to understand why we’re so lethargic. Over coffee and croissants, as the game is proceeding, they tell me that the team is divided because of differing opinions over Brexit.

Then Mary Earps comes on and scores 4 goals all at once. But the ref disallows them because he can’t understand how you can score 4 goals at once. Make of that what you will.
Ian C


The England media are the problem
Right. England topped the group, so that’s good. I’m not big on international football, I mainly spend the tournaments watching the smaller teams and hoping Saka doesn’t get injured. But after Tuesday night, it’s pretty clear everyone playing for England are doing so with an albatross shaped like a copy of the S*n around their necks.

Look, I get that they are paid a lot to play football. We should all be envious, and when they don’t run about right, we are within our rights (as fans who pay for the privilege to watch them as well as people who earn what Kane does in a week over the course of 3 years (assuming we don’t do silly things like pay rent and eat (who needs to do that in this economy anyway?)).

So England are scared. Scared of the press. Also now scared of the fans (throwing plastic cups at your national team manager – it’s not for everyone). It’s clearly affecting their play, you can see the fear when anyone strays out of their position.

Of course, a good manager tells you to block it out, but everyone spends every second on their phones now, and of course players are going to see what’s written about them (happened to my boy Havertz for the first half of the season and that was Arsenal’s own sub reddit. He mentioned having seen the stuff in an interview.) Thankfully he used it as fuel, and of course there’s that argument as well – part of the game is dealing with it. But some of the players are barely out of their teens and have you met any teenagers nowadays? Pretty bothered by what people say about them.

So how do you solve it?

You don’t. It’s unsolvable. Roy from Grimsby is still going to buy two copies of the Daily Star tomorrow (one for the tits he keeps away from his wife) and he’s going to bust his spleen at the thought of these boys not following the plan he set put down at the Slaughtered Lamb on Saturday night.

These people don’t want reasoned analysis. They want a young, (black) player to be the scapegoat so that when they all get together after work they can pillory these kids and feel better about the fact that they are beginning to wheeze when they climb the stairs. We love to pretend these people don’t exist, but let’s be honest with ourselves.

England will do pretty well I reckon. Either that or they will lose to the bloody Dutch. But whatever happens, it’s always going to be like this. Especially now as we are firmly entrenched in the kind of existence where outrage ensures financial backing.

Not that I have any tactical nous of any kind, but I’d give Gordon more minutes. He’s a smart lad (his overlap ep was genuinely inspiring) and he clearly wants to get on and do things. Left hand side offered nothing due to Trips not being Luke Shaw. Rice is obviously unhappy in his role. So move him a little. Palmer earlier (65/70) especially if we’re struggling creatively. We’ve got 2 or 3 players on that bench who are obviously going to be part of tbe set-up moving forward, so bringing one of them on with 2 mins left does sort of indicate a need to get on with it a little.

Anyway no need for Doom and Gloom because we could very well be a Polish fan and I think we can all agree that would be a painful existence indeed.
Stu A.F.C in the U. S. of A

👉 16 Conclusions as England win Group C despite themselves: what does Southgate do now?
👉 Kobbie Mainoo leads the England Clamour rankings; will Gareth Southgate listen?
👉 Harry Kane ‘wandering around like a granny at a car boot’; is Southgate ‘trolling’ us?


Thank f*** this has not been a thing
Given the near-biblical levels of outrage at the time of its unveiling, I’m very shocked that I haven’t seen many headlines or stories linking England’s EURO performances to the “woke” flag adorning the players’ collars.

Also, I hope Southgate is never so much as linked to the United job in the near or distant future.
Emmanuel, Abuja