England boss Sarina Wiegman faces a tricky resolution in organising her facet to face Scotland.
4 months on from lacking out on World Cup glory, England face their largest problem but. With a spot within the Nations League finals and subsequently the 2024 Olympics on the road, the Lionesses should begin and end the sport in full pressure.
England earned an emphatic comeback win in opposition to the Netherlands on Friday at Wembley. After Lineth Beerensteyn netted twice within the first half, the Lionesses rebounded to place three previous the guests and preserve their hopes of qualifying for Paris 2024 alive. Their end result was helped by Belgium dropping factors to Scotland in a 1-1 draw.
The Netherlands and England are degree on factors and with head-to-head cancelled out, however the Dutch stay on the prime of the desk on objective distinction, with their +4 trumping the Lionesses’ +1.
England should beat Scotland by no less than three targets to overturn their deficit assuming the Netherlands beat Belgium of their final fixture. If the Netherlands drop factors, England will prime the group in the event that they do defeat Scotland regardless of by what number of targets. Conversely, they may thrash their oldest rivals and it won’t even matter.
With a lot on the road, Wiegman faces questions as to how finest to arrange in opposition to in each space on the pitch.
Might Beth Mead begin?
Beth Mead lastly made he England return on Friday and her introduction at half-time injected impetus into the Lionesses. Much like how she impressed a comeback for Arsenal to beat Aston Villa firstly of the WSL season, Mead lifted the Lionesses and was instrumental in orchestrating their three-goal comeback.
England want to attain early and keep their dominance from the off to beat Scotland by no less than three targets – Wiegman stated pre-match she hopes the staff begin sturdy from the primary minute. Enjoying Mead from kick-off would definitely give England an edge to do exactly that.
However is she higher off the bench? If England are main by just one objective, or worst case situation are trailing to the Scots, she is the precise participant you’d wish to introduce to encourage one more comeback.
This sport carries a lot jeopardy that it appears an enormous danger to constrict Mead to solely substitute minutes. The 28-year-old is a participant for giant moments and given the possibility will wish to announce her full comeback with as many targets as potential. Beginning the Arsenal winger is your best option for Wiegman.
Will Alessia Russo reclaim her striker spot?
Alessia Russo has had a gradual begin to life with Arsenal, solely scoring twice in eight video games. It’s no calamity but, but it surely has clearly offered warning indicators for Wiegman. Lauren Hemp crammed in as a lone striker for England for the primary time in over a yr on Friday, however performed in a dup upfront with Russo throughout the World Cup.
No matter the place you play her, Hemp has to start out – Wiegman merely can’t bench her. She is in flying kind, scoring targets and placing defences beneath strain. As a striker, she is way extra medical than Russo.
The England boss is revelling in Hemp’s successes and is unlikely to vary it up. Russo’s historical past as a super-sub is so outstanding – it’s too irresistible to throw her on when play is dwindling and watch her flip the tide for England as she did throughout the 2022 Euros.
Wiegman has a quartet of viable winger choices to accomplice whichever striker she chooses, and having a lot of a headache in choosing a ahead line is a blessing quite than a detriment.
Does Lauren James transfer into the quantity ten position?
If Russo was to regain her beginning spot because the quantity 9, Hemp must transfer to the wing. That may imply dropping Lauren James to the bench or shifting her into midfield, presumably on the expense of Fran Kirby.
Kirby is now able to dealing with no less than 60 minutes after recovering from a knee harm that dominated her out of the World Cup. James slotted into the attacking midfield position throughout the event and rapt followers, however nonetheless lacked the creativity and expertise Kirby brings.
James seemingly has an incapability to return off the bench. The 22-year-old is England’s cheat code however solely when taking part in from kick-off. In its place, James is way much less efficient. Beginning on Friday, she struggled to regulate the overload in midfield and continues to be studying the ropes.
Enjoying James because the quantity 10 may enhance her composure, however is dropping Kirby’s expertise and affect in midfield too dangerous?
England’s engine room was threadbare throughout the World Cup and relied closely on the missing type of Ella Toone throughout the again finish of the event.
The Manchester United midfielder was a former super-sub in her personal proper, and transferring her again into that spot appears only for each participant and staff. Having James and Kirby taking part in collectively from kick-off with the choice to introduce Toone off the bench is probably going the best way ahead.
Do England change to a again three?
England’s defence is troublesome. Jess Carter and Alex Greenwood had removed from managed performances in opposition to the Netherlands.
The pair have been quivery, typically making rash and skewed passes when beneath strain. With this fixture coming with a lot strain, England want a tranquil backline that can be regular and communicative.
Veteran right-back Lucy Bronze typically inverted into midfield and additional up the pitch. Whereas this was useful to ship crosses in, the shortage of defence left the backline susceptible. This raises questions as as to whether a again three – with Bronze and Niamh Charles filling in as wing-backs – can be higher.
A again three was efficient throughout the World Cup however with Keira Walsh working as a deep mendacity midfielder, the arrange seldom labored as soon as she returned from her harm. It feels unlikely that Wiegman will make such a drastic change to her again line, particularly given the absence of Millie Shiny who was crucial within the former arrange.
The choices for a 3rd centre-back are a lot. Maya Le Tissier, Lotte Wubben-Moy or Esme Morgan would all be in rivalry. However Wiegman’s lack of rotation has come again to hang-out her and the younger defensive trio have hardly ever had minutes for England.
Might Esme Morgan earn a begin rather than Jess Carter?
Carter was overran by the Netherlands. Her hesitation and tendency to float out of place left England susceptible. Her performances have fluctuated between spectacular and nervy for the Lionesses for the reason that begin of final season. However having performed a lot of the World Cup in defence, she is calm, collected and understands the excessive stakes video games.
Morgan, then again, is younger and recent however lacks refinement that comes with taking part in in large video games. She began in England’s loss in opposition to Australia in April that ended their 30-game unbeaten streak and began rather than Shiny throughout the Lionesses’ farewell sport in opposition to Portugal in July.
On Friday, Morgan injected vitality into the backline to forestall the devilish Dutch counter assault from regaining a degree. Her stellar deal with on Beerensteyn was medical and proved how a lot the 23-year-old had grown in her resolution making and execution.
She additionally has a historical past of partnering Greenwood at Manchester Metropolis. Morgan is unquestionably in rivalry to start out in opposition to Scotland – she supplies a vigour on the again that’s missing with Carter in defence and is likely to be precisely what England have to defeat Scotland by a big margin.
England predicted lineup vs Scotland (4-3-3): Earps; Bronze, Morgan, Greenwood, Charles; Kirby, Walsh, Stanway; Mead, Hemp, James.