A come from behind…well…draw tonight, I’d say it was the right result despite going in at half time 2-0 down thanks to some decidedly summer holiday kickaboutÂ defending by Messers Barry and Ferdinand.Â Jermain Defoe scored both our goals and James Milner and Carlton Cole were also impressive.
The debate whether we have to play a friendly so early in the season is a bit of a non-starter as FIFA decide on these dates, but at least it’s not a qualifier andÂ the Dutch are almost in the same boat as us (the Eredivisie is two games old) – but the big difference is that they have already qualified for the World Cup and we haven’t. We’ll try to getÂ a report up tomorrow, but as it’s a friendly there’s no live stuff planned for this evening; we’ll post the result as soon as we have it.
As something a bit different in the build up to South Africa, we’re going to follow the two dozen or so players who we think might make the final squad for next summer.Â An interestingÂ fact is that the only player we’re followingÂ who doesn’t currently playing in the Premiership is David Beckham (who has been making some headlines of his own recently)Â – in fact, according to the font of all knowledge that is Wikipedia, there are more members of the current North Korean squad who play in Europe than there are in the England squad.
Basically what we’re going to do is this. Even though the Premiership has yet to start, there are a lot of games this weekendÂ that should featureÂ players from the squadÂ that face theÂ Dutch tonight – barring any injuries of course.
Top of the list are Man U v Birmingham (Sunday 1:30 Sky Sports) and Blackburn v Man City with four England squad members on show, followed by Chelsea v Hull (Saturday 12:45 Sky), Spurs v Liverpool (Sunday 4pm Sky), Aston Villa v Wigan and Wolves v West Ham (all with three England players). Everton v Arsenal (Saturday 5:15 ESPN)features Theo Walcott and Joleon Lescott and last of all (if he plays) David Beckham will be playing for LA Galaxy v Seattle Sounders sometime on Sunday morning when we’re all tucked up in bed.
At the beginning of the following week, we’ll post one liners about the performances from the previous weekends that will outline goals, assists, injuries etc. and hopefully we’ll gradually get a clearer idea of who will make the final squad if/when we qualify.
Despite an injury list that would be extremely worrying ifÂ the situation was repeatedÂ in South Africa next year, weâ€™re going into the next two qualifiers in an extremely favourable position to ensure automatic qualification. We should beat Kazakhstan on Saturday (4:00pm on Setanta, highlights 10:00pm on ITV) and Andorra on Wednesday (7:45pm on ITV), but arguably the most important game in the group is the one between Croatia and the Ukraine, which kicks off at 7:15pm on Saturday: itâ€™s pretty safe to say that if Ukraine lose, theyâ€™re unlikely to get to South Africa next summer, leaving the Croats as the only obstacle to overcome.
So what do we know about the Kazahk team? Their home record in the World Cup is pretty poor â€“ apart from a 3-0 win over Andorra last August theyâ€™ve lost every single one of their other home qualifiers, most recently a 5-1 defeat by Belarus in April. Theyâ€™re currently ranked 137th in the world and 47th(out of 53) in Europe – just worse than Luxembourg â€“ so theyâ€™re the second weakest team in our group after Andorra, despite being the ninth largest country in the world. The game is being held in Almaty (which isnâ€™t the capital city but is the largest city in the country), which apparently means â€˜full of applesâ€™. The players to watch out for in a squad without a great deal of international experienceÂ are striker Sergei Ostapenko (4 goals in 19 appearances) and midfielder Ruslan Baltiev, who is the most capped player in the squad (70). Unusually these days, none of the Kazakh squad play their club football outside the country, although some of them have played abroad (normally in Russia) in the past.
The starting England eleven for tomorrowâ€™s game hasnâ€™t been announced at the time of writing, but the main issues are who will be in goal and the composition of the back four. Iâ€™d be tempted to give the gloves to Robert Green, who deserves another chance to show what he can do as the other options are Scott Carson (who will be playing in the Championship with WestÂ Brom nextÂ season) and Paul Robinson. After Rio Ferdinand dropped out, Fabio Capello brought Gary Cahill of Bolton Wanderers in as a replacement central defender, but if Green does start in goal then I think it makes sense for Matt Upson of West Ham to partner John Terry in central defence instead of Joleon Lescott.
Currently England are 1/6 favourites to win, with a 2-0 win around 5/1 and Wayne Rooney to score first at about 10/3. I think the two goal margin is a fair one, but having scored in their last twelve consecutive home games Iâ€™d be surprised if Kazakhstan donâ€™t score.
Today is St George’s Day and most of us will still be going to work. As you may know, countries all over the world celebrate their patron saint, for example and the closest to us and probably the most well known, is Saint Patrick’s Day for Ireland!
Here is an interesting quote from Wikipedia on the subject:
“Due to supreme shortshightedness and a virtually complete lack of pride in one’s own country, St George’s Day is not celebrated as much in England as other National Days are around the world; the English populace plods off to work as usual and pays scant attention to the day.”
Well, we know there is pride – loads of it – but it isn’t backed up by any determination to do anything by the forces that be, up there in their ivory towers, to make St George a public holiday..dammit! (woo.. steady we’re breaking our non policitical policy – Ed)
St George’s Day is celebrated by the several nations, kingdoms, countries, and cities of which Saint George is the patron saint, including England, the old kingdoms and counties of the Crown of Aragon in Spain â€” Aragon, Catalonia and Valencia; Portugal, Cyprus, Georgia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Republic of Macedonia, and the cities of Moscow in Russia, Genova in Italy, Ljubljana in Slovenia, Beirut in Lebanon, Qormi and Victoria in Malta and many others.
Visit this website on details of how you can take action 😉 http://www.stgeorgesday.com
Anyhoo – Have a GREAT day! 🙂