Blog Archives

Arsenal season preview: It’s now or never

Do these 7 players hold the key to England’s future success?

In an interview with BBC Sport FA Elite Development Director Dan Ashworth has identified 7 young English players who he believes are the bedrock to any success for the England national team in future. Clearly, with the new St. George’s complex and the general move towards playing a more sophisticated style of play it is important to develop players who can do that. They need to be able to pass and also press hard when not in possession. So, who has he picked and does he have a point?

Jack Wilshere – Arsenal (21)

wilshere england

Scout Report Wilshere bares more than a passing resemblance in his style of play to a young Paul Gascoigne. He is all action, good passing, strong in the tackle and good running with the ball. His tempo setting and chance creating are improving all the time and he can only get better. He needs to show that he can stay fit over a long period and play at his usual high level for a consistent spell and then he can be considered as the future lynchpin of this team.
Where does he fit for England? England desperately need to be able to pass the ball and play with proper tempo if they are to make good progress in tournaments, let alone win one. Wilshere would operate in the deep lying playmaker role in the stlye of Xavi, Pirlo, Alonso or Schweinsteiger. He will have to develop in to the fulcrum of the team and if a team is defined by it’s central midfield then England would like it to be defined by Wilshere.

Danny Welbeck – Manchester United (22)


Scout Report Welbeck is more of a first line of defence type forward more than a goal machine but he performs consistently. He runs himself in to the ground every game and has an uncommon work ethic for a young forward. He has high skill levels and has shown that he can be a good finisher as seen by his lovely little flick against Sweden at Euro 2012. He is quick and strong which gives him all the tools he needs if further refined.
Where does he fit for England? The importance of high pressing in the modern game is shown by the final four in the Champions League. They all start their defensive pattern high up the field and hastle and close to force mistakes in dangerous areas. Welbeck is a prime example of this. If England are to be able to play a modern passing game they need to be able to play a pressing game and Welbeck can lead that.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – Arsenal (19)


Scout Report Oxlade-Chamberlain has everything he needs to be a world class attacker. He has pace, movement, technical quality and subtlety. He plays with energy and drive and has a particularly direct style which is becoming increasingly uncommon in the modern game.
Where does he fit for England? England need to adpat to the modern 4231/433 type systems for which he is a perfect fit. He can play in any of the forward positions for either position except the central striker. His flexibility and adaptability makes him a crucial asset if he continues to improve at his current rate.

Wilfried Zaha – Manchester United (20)


Scout Report Zaha is a prime example of England’s next generation of talent in that he is overloaded with speed, trickery and directness. However, he also has the technical skill that is necessary for success in the modern game. The most difficult thing to defend is a player dribbling at speed and that is exactly the kind of problem that Zaha gives. He seems to get more and more difficult to deal with in and around the penalty box and can even score plenty of goals.
Where does he fit for England? Zaha has excellent versatility as he is able to play in any one of the 5 modern forward positions that it is important England move towards playing. If, as is worryingly likely, England can’t develop a way of playing that allows then to dominate possession they will need to play on the break and Zaha would be ideal for that.

Luke Shaw – Southampton (17)


Scout Report Shaw is probably the elite talent on this list. To be able to play in the Premier League at 17 as if you have been playing there for 10 years is an astonishing statement of his ability. Shaw has a little bit of Ashley Cole and a little bit of Leighton Baines which could make him one of the best in the world in his position in the next few years. The last man Southampton had who looked so assured at this age was Gareth Bale.
Where does he fit for England? The left back production line keeps churning so it might be a while before Shaw works his way in to the England team, mind you, there’s no real rush with two world class players ahead of him.

Thomas Ince – Blackpool (21)


Scout Report Ince plays like an English Arjen Robben. He is a left footed forward who plays on the right and like the Dutchman is at his most dangerous when cutting in from the right and shooting. He is quick and powerful and surprisingly consistent such a young player.
Where does he fit for England? Nowhere just yet. He needs a couple of years of proving himself in the Premier League before he can be considered ready for England but as seen by the current dearth of strikers, the more the merrier.

Raheem Sterling – Liverpool (18)


Scout Report If this list had been published at the start of the season Sterling may well have been atop it but he has lost his way a bit. Perhaps because of burnout but perhaps also because he isn’t ready to be relied upon. He is lighting fast and has incredible agility and balance. Despite his small size he is able to bounce off players, and keep the ball when dribbling at full speed. Needs some polish but has all the raw tools.
Where does he fit for England? He needs refinement but has the kind of pace which is very hard to find and has shown he can operate on either wing.

%d bloggers like this: