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Five things we learnt from England v Nigeria

| 04.06.2018

England met Nigeria at Wembley last weekend as both sides step up their preparations for the World Cup in Russia.

This was Gareth Southgate’s first chance to see his team in action since naming his squad last month.

Harry Kane helped England to victory but there was plenty to learn from the Three Lions’ 2-1 win.

Three-at-the-back is here to stay

When Southgate named Kyle Walker on the right of a back three against the Netherlands in March it turned heads.

But his experiment may have morphed into his most innovative ploy. This was Walker’s third successive game at centre-back.

The Manchester City man now looks a shoo-in to start the first game against Tunisia.

This allows the use of wing-backs to provide England’s outlet going forward with Tottenham duo Danny Rose and Kieran Trippier.

Southgate looks as if he’ll put his faith in John Stones.

So the only question left to answer is will it be Gary Cahill or Harry Maguire as the third centre back?

Dele Alli and Jesse Lingard can play in the same side

This game may have gone some way to dispelling the rumours.

There won’t be any Lampard-Gerrard debate here.

The duo lined up in the midfield anchored by Eric Dier. The combination with Raheem Sterling was very effective in the first half.

It was their runs off the ball that allowed Kane space for the decisive second goal.

When Nigeria grew into the game in the second-half the midfield opened up but this was when Southgate brought on the versatile Fabian Delph to shut off any comeback.

Raheem Sterling can play as the second striker

He may not have scored but Sterling looked a real threat running at the heart of the Nigeria defence.

If Southgate does persist with the 3-5-2 formation it gives the 23-year-old the license to make more incisive runs. That’s a trait he’s massively developed under Pep Guardiola last season.

Playing with one deep-lying midfielder in Eric Dier or Jordan Henderson may well make sense in the games against Tunisia and Panama.

However, the formation may have to be adapted in their final group game against Belgium.

Sterling will certainly be involved but may begin his attacks from a more customary wide position.

Kieran Trippier will be important to Southgate’s style

The three at the back will free up England’s full-backs who might become an integral part of the attacking play.

The inclusion of Trent Alexander-Arnold proves Southgate is banking on his full-backs to provide crosses from wide.

Although Kieran Trippier looks to have made the right-wing back slot his own.

The former Burnley defender provided the assist for Gary Cahill’s opener. He will be key to how England transition from defence to attack.

And will want to show why both Mauricio Pochettino and Southgate have so much belief in him.

Alex Iwobi is vital to Nigeria’s fortunes

Nigeria looked slightly lost in the first half at Wembley. England could and should have been more than two goals in front at half-time.

However, it only took Alex Iwobi two second-half minutes to cut the deficit.

The Arsenal forward comes alive when he plays for the Super Eagles. His dinked through ball to Odion Ighalo was a pass of a man full of confidence.

His instinct to follow up and finish passed Jordan Pickford looked inspired.

It will be up to Iwobi to dictate the play in the attacking third, his close control and ability to find the right pass will be crucial.

All Odds and Markets correct as of date of publication



Charlie Dear

Charlie has covered sport for the likes of The Guardian, Football365 and FourFourTwo. Arsenal sufferer. German football enthusiast.