Saturday, March 26, 2011

Five Things We Learned From England's Win In Wales

England's midfielder Frank Lampard celebrates scoring a penalty during their Euro 2012, group G qualifying football match at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, on March 26, 2011. - England's midfielder Frank Lampard celebrates scoring a penalty during their Euro 2012, group G qualifying football match at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, on March 26, 2011.1.Wales are a Championship quality team- A pre-match glance at the team sheets indicated it, and a first half full of errors confirmed it, Wales are no better than a Championship team. A strike duo of King and Morison, members of Leicester City and Millwall respectively, must have had only the most weak kneed of England supporters shaking in their boots, and I highly doubt that even the appearance on the wing of Cardiff player Craig Bellamy had the England full backs sweating in the locker room.

2. Ashley Young is the real deal- Linked to Manchester United and Liverpool in the last few weeks, Ashley Young once again proved that he deserves to be England's first choice winger. Brilliant all game, Young got the ball rolling for England, winning a penalty inside ten minutes which Lampard calmly rolled into the bottom corner. Ten minutes later, and the Aston Villa man was at it again, with his superb cross teeing Darren Bent up for the easiest of close range finishes. With less than twenty minutes gone, Young on his own had arguably won England the game. Critics will point out that he saw much less action in the second forty-five, but that should be attributed only to an England team, who clearly took their foot off the petal during the second period.

3. Darren Bent is good, just not good enough- With three goals in his last three games for England, Darren Bent has finally translated his goalscoring form for club, into goalscoring form for country. However, despite his goal, I was wholly unconvinced by his display against Wales. Sure his strike was taken well, but on three or four occasions a lack of pace from the Villa man led to him missing out on several fine through balls from Wilshere. Had Jermain Defoe been on the pitch, surely those balls would have been pounced upon, and a couple more goals scored. For the sake of England, I hope that Capello stops persisting with Bent upfront, and instead opts for Carrol, Defoe or Crouch, as a partner for Rooney.

4. Lampard has remembered how to take penalties- Since his miss against Portsmouth at Wembley, all has gone wrong for Lamps from the penalty spot. That cup final miss was followed up by a failure against Japan in a pre-World Cup friendly game, and Lampard also missed one during one of Chelsea's early season Premier League games. However, the man who has for so long held penalty responsibilities for both club and country looks to have rediscovered his form from twelve yards, with a conversion against Blackpool followed up by another fine penalty earlier today. Lampard's rediscovery of penalty form will certainly come as a relief to Carlo Ancelotti, as number two Chelsea penalty takers Nicolas Anelka and Didier Drogba have been erratic at best when called upon to take spot kicks.

5. Scott Parker is better than Gareth Barry- Superb for West Ham all season long, it seemed only a matter of time before Parker was given a decent run out for the national side. Knowing full well that this could be his last chance at gaining a starting spot in Capello's team, Parker took the bull by the horns, and produced the type of performance which must make England fans wonder what might have been in South Africa had West Ham's cult hero Parker been preferred to the deeply mediocre Barry. Not only did Parker protect the back four well during this match, but his passing was much more accurate than that which is produced by Barry, and one would hope that in the future the former Chelsea man will get the nod in midfield, ahead of one of England's many World Cup flops.

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