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Surprised to see that there wasn't a thread started after the two qualifiers in the space of a few days. Last night's game was one of the best matches I've watched for a while, certainly the most entertaining, and huge credit has to go to Kosovo. The passion and desire was there for all to see, but I was surprised just how good technically they were. Now I can see why they had gone plenty of game unbeaten until last night. It will be interesting to see how they progress in the coming years as a nation.

As for England, they were as hapless at the back as they were scintillating going forwards. I think a front three of Kane, Sterling and Sancho is as good as anything in the world, and considering their respective ages they should only get better. Midfield is still an issue but personally I think the strongest three as of right now could be Winks, Loftus-Cheek and Maddison, none of who featured last night. But Ross Barkley's ability to run with the ball is a big plus and I still think there's a real player to come out of him. As for the manager, I love Southgate and think he's done a brilliant job, but it's frustrating that he's yet to give Maddison a go. He always leaves his subs far too late and doesn't give players coming on much of a chance to actually make a proper impact. I'm a big fan of Alexander-Arnold as a footballer but not as an out and out right-back. For the time being I would opt for either Trippier, depending on his form at Atletico Madrid, or Wan-Bissaka, who is almost unbeatable in one on one situations but needs to improve his forward play. There's nothing in it between Danny Rose and Ben Chilwell, but Chilwell is many years younger than Rose and therefore has more time to grow as a player, so he would get the nod for me for the left-back spot. I don't rate Luke Shaw who might be in other people's thoughts but he's not bad as a third choice option. 

The biggest area for concern is obviously the centre-backs. Harry Maguire seems to be a Southgate favourite and the one defender that will play when fit, and that's fair enough. I've never rated Michael Keane and he's done absolutely nothing over the two games to chance my mind. Joe Gomez is a very good defender but after a bad injury has lost his place in the Liverpool team currently and for that reason won't be an automatic choice currently. John Stones is John Stones... Talented, but a liability at any given moment.

For me this would be my strongest 11, and I've chosen players based more on what I think they can bring to the side, and balance to the team, than current form or anything. I'm sure many others would have two, three or even four different players in their own strongest team. But I think England have a lot of talent and can definitely make more semi-finals and even finals in the future, of that I have little doubt.

 

Pickford

 

Wan-Bissaka

Gomez

Maguire

Chilwell

 

Winks

Barkley

Maddison

 

Sancho

Sterling

Kane

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As the England and Kosovo players sat and chatted after the game, one brave soul stood up and in broken English, started describing his home and growing up...

"We had nothing as children. Our fathers had to steal to get us food, our sisters and mothers sold their bodies to help keep a roof over our heads. Gangs of men roamed the streets at night..taking what they could from whoever they met". 

"Every day...stabbings, muggings, deaths. It was a way of life. It was a hard upbringing. Ramshackle houses with intermittent electricity. Cooking on whatever we could burn. Broken down cars in the streets. Rats and packs of wild dogs scavenging all over. It was a desolate place".

The Kosovan players then all stood up and gave Jordan Henderson a big round of applause. 👏🏻

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Went to the game last night and a throughly entertaining night it was too. Raheem Sterling has become a magnificent footballer. His pace is frighteningly and his choice and weight of pass has improved no end under Pep. He's England's best player and is only getting better. I don't know where we go at centre half. Harry Maguire is a shoe in almost by default but we are desperate for someone to step up as his partner.

I was at the back of the Chapel Stand, Southampton's home end, last night and fair play to everyone in there because they didn't shut up for the entire 90 minutes. Great support and a superb advert for further games away from Wembley.

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I love the idea of England playing away from Wembley as frequently as possible. Much better atmosphere. I don't think the new Wembley has anything like the soul that the old one did for a few reasons.

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On 11/09/2019 at 17:26, TylerB said:

 

I love the idea of England playing away from Wembley as frequently as possible. Much better atmosphere. I don't think the new Wembley has anything like the soul that the old one did for a few reasons.

Looking forward to the return game tonight in Kosovo.Can't see it being as good as the first game but here's hoping.

My team tonight.

Pope

TAA,Mings,Maguire,Chilwell

Ox Chamberlain,Maddison,Rice

Hudson Adoi,Kane,Sterling

 

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2 hours ago, Valiant62 said:

Woeful spectacle.

England were sloppy but I enjoyed it myself. Technically Kosovo are much better than they perhaps have a right to be, and their supporters created a brilliant, none hostile atmosphere throughout. 

There was some turgid performances from our point of view from the likes of Alexander-Arnold, Rice and Hudson-Odoi. But a front four of Kane, Sterling, Rashford and Sancho is as good as anything in International football and will make us an exciting team to watch next summer. 

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Hard to assess where England stand in the football hierarchy at the moment, we can beat anyone but also still lose to almost anyone. Center of defense is a concern as is the lack of a top quality creative midfield player although Madison and/or Foden have time to come into the picture before the Euros.

Harry Kane has developed into the complete center forward, great finisher, superb awareness and vision, excellent touch and weight of pass and superb temperament.

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I just don't know whether we'll ever find the right blend to beat the top 3-4 teams in the world.

I like Southgate and I can see that we now have a lot of young attacking talent but it's hard to see us dominating the ball against the top teams in the world and at the back we appear to have gone backwards. The keeper continues to give me the jitters and the back four are, at times, all at sea. Maguire looks clumsy and we're giving poor teams far too many chances. Blimey. Our marking off dead balls is abysmal.

Be good to see us playing at home next year. That's always a big boost to the hosts, but I'm a tad disappointed that the games are all at Wembley and we're not playing any games in the Midlands or the north. Something to look forward to.

The front players do look exciting and Kane [agreed] leads the line so intelligently. But we need a midfield general and a defence if we want to start thinking about getting to the final stages.

The one thing I will say is that by and large it's quite entertaining now to watch England. We have a number of very skilful forward players and on their day they are fantastic to watch.

 

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We are amongst the top 10 best teams in the world but we struggle to compete against the best 4 or 5 in major tournaments. France were the same until they won their first major, let’s hope we can win the Euros or next World Cup then I’m sure more will follow.

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2 hours ago, philpvfc said:

We are amongst the top 10 best teams in the world but we struggle to compete against the best 4 or 5 in major tournaments.

Hasn’t this, generally, always been the case  ? 

Southgate has done better than I expected and his blooding of young talent as opposed to relying on the “old guard” has paid dividends performance wise.

Wether this will result in improved results at major finals remains to be seen. 

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On 11/09/2019 at 14:34, TylerB said:

As for the manager, I love Southgate and think he's done a brilliant job, but it's frustrating that he's yet to give Maddison a go.

Maddison? He'll have to get Scott Brown out first. 😁

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I think England will get out of the group given Croatia have aged another 12 months. But we are not going much further with a poor defence and a goalkeeper I think has a big clanger in him. Need to get Banks 1970 reincarnated. 

Edited by Warren

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We are a world class centre back short of a solid side that could get to the final of a major tournament. 

Hoping that Tomori improves even more for the rest of the season with Chelsea as he looks a real talent. 

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On 01/12/2019 at 07:48, davehartshill said:

We are a world class centre back short of a solid side that could get to the final of a major tournament. 

Hoping that Tomori improves even more for the rest of the season with Chelsea as he looks a real talent. 

If Gomez can get a run of games and find his club form from last season then on paper there's nothing at all wrong with a partnership of Gomez and Tomori in the future. 

I have to say I've been impressed with Jack Grealish this season and he must be close to getting a call up to compete with the likes of Maddison, Mount and Oxlade-Chamberlain. Dele Alli is also looking a player again. 

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