England 1-0 Switzerland: Rating the players…

Date published: Tuesday 11th September 2018 9:14

Almost scored a catastrophic own goal with his first action of the game, and then put Tarkowski in trouble with a sluggish pass with his second. Other than that Butland was barely tested, bar a smart smothering save from Mario Gavranovic before the break. But as the first second-tier appearance maker for England since Jay Bothroyd in 2012, Butland is going to struggle to enhance his England hopes in the Championship. Time to get back to his best at club level.


There were multiple occasions during the first half where Walker’s pace proved invaluable, covering around the back to deal with a ball played over a high defensive line. But you do suspect that Walker might be a little grumpy about playing in an unfamiliar position for his country, given his sterling form at club level as a flying right-back. Central defence certainly doesn’t show off all his most obvious strengths, and pitches him against some excellent central defenders. All the while, Trippier has become persona grata.


Caught on the edge of his own box early in the game, albeit after a slow pass from Butland. After that, Tarkowski had the honour of being the player with the fewest notes, which very much used to be Gary Cahill’s role. Still not convinced that he’s international class and has no chance of starting in a first-choice XI, but also did little wrong.


No member of England’s central defence looked authoritative during the first half, but after the break we saw why Maguire really can be the leader of this England defence. He has always been comfortable with ball at feet, but over the last year Maguire has become a truly international-class ball-playing centre-back. He’s happy to step up not only into midfield but right up to the edge of the opposition penalty area. That takes some confidence and some skill.


I think it’s fair to say that Liverpool get more from Alexander-Arnold than England. That’s partly because Alexander-Arnold has such an emotional connection at club level, but also because he has more responsibility. For England, Alexander-Arnold is expected to play more as a regulation full-back than wing-back and that was particularly evident on Tuesday given Rose’s adventure on the left. Rose created three times as many chances and attempted double the number of crosses. So-so, but given Alexander-Arnold’s rapid rise over the last 12 months there can be no stinging criticism.


The game’s best player, and by far and away England’s most accomplished. If Luke Shaw has wrestled a starting place away from Ashley Young at club and international level, here was Rose’s audition to start more regularly for both. He overlapped at will and virtually played as a left winger in the second half, outclassing Stephan Lichtsteiner. After his mental and physical health issues, that’s bloody brilliant to see. Now, a question: Does playing with a slightly more reserved left-sided central midfielder (ie Delph over Alli) give Rose more room to do his thing?


Every time I write about Dier starting for England, I find myself asking what he actually does. The passing isn’t any better than Jordan Henderson, but Dier also doesn’t protect the defence any more adequately. Instead he seems to do an awful lot of watching and pointing, and occasionally steams out of position and commits a foul. Dier is a useful squad player, but he cannot be the answer as England’s central midfield quarterback. Sorry.


Disappointing, if only because I thought he might come out blazing on a rare outing as an actual midfielder. England’s midfield suffered from a disappointing lack of intensity in the first half, and it was Delph and Dier who set the tone. Delph did improve after the break and carried the ball forward as the game became more stretched, but he is now 28 and unlikely to start more than five league games this season if Benjamin Mendy stays fit. If this was his big chance to prove that he is invaluable to Gareth Southgate, it didn’t go well. Give me Will Hughes, Lewis Cook, Nathaniel Chalobah, Harry Winks or anyone else under 24 any day of the week.


Before the game I wondered whether Loftus-Cheek was being touted to start for England because he can be the player to link midfield and attack, or just because we really want him to be. This performance didn’t offer a definitive answer either way, but certainly offered glimpses of why we should be both optimistic and pessimistic. At his best, Loftus-Cheek protects the ball like Mousa Dembele but with added desire to push forward. At his worst, he takes too many touches and flatters to deceive in a similar style to Ross Barkley. They might start together in the EFL Cup and Europa League.


Far fewer chances than on Saturday evening, but Rashford scored both of England’s goals during this international break. The effective retirement of Jamie Vardy from England duty opened a spot to be Harry Kane’s centre forward backup, and Rashford has grabbed that opportunity. He still looks better when dropping deeper to pick up possession and run at defenders, but the all-round play as a central striker is good enough to merit long-term faith. Now to try and get regular Premier League minutes. Shame about that three-game suspension.


Rusty during the first half, occasionally failing to hold the ball up when England did infrequently get possession, Welbeck did improve as the game wore on and rather delightfully injured Fabian Schar purely by turning him on the halfway line. Still, he’s unlikely to get many minutes at Arsenal and so is basically in this England squad until someone better comes along. The good news for Welbeck is that it might take a while.



Harry Kane (on for Welbeck, 61)
Played 34 minutes, in which I remember him having two touches. Did he really need to come off the bench? Give the boy a bloody rest.

John Stones (on for Tarkowski, 61)
Two excellent blocks, but also got caught dithering under the bouncing ball. Makes too many little mistakes in an England shirt to avoid us having kittens.

Jesse Lingard (on for Loftus-Cheek, 61)
Had 26 touches and I remember fewer of them than Kane’s.

Jordan Henderson (on for Delph, 68)
Got booked for cynically stopping a counter attack. Now go listen to Bob Mortimer’s impression of him.

Kieran Trippier (on for Alexander-Arnold, 78)
Did a volleyed cross that made Martin Tyler purr.

Ben Chilwell (on for Rose, 78)
Does making your international debut on your home ground feel more special because plenty of your club fans are there, or less special because you’re already used to the surroundings?

Daniel Storey

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