Harry Winks

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England finishes EURO 2020 qualifying by beating Kosovo

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England’s 2020 European Championship qualification campaign wrapped up on Sunday with a slightly flattering 4-0 victory away to third-place, and playoff qualifiers, Kosovo.

[ VIDEO: Game stopped for racist chanting; player targeted later scores goal ]

Gareth Southgate‘s side was hardly at its best just three days after thrashing Montenegro and securing qualification to this summer’s tournament. They only led by a score of 1-0 through 78 minutes, before scoring a trio of late goals to put the game out of reach and rob the hosts of any potential moral victory.

Harry Winks opened the scoring, and his England account, in the 32nd minute. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain found Winks near the top of Kosovo’s penalty area and though Winks’ first touch appeared quite poor, every player in blue stopped and stood as the Tottenham Hotspur midfielder walked in on goal and coolly slotted the ball home to make it 1-0.

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From that point forward, Kosovo enjoyed control of the game’s tempo and looked every bit the Three Lions’ equal. That is, until Harry Kane finished an open chance at the back post in the 79th minute and opened the floodgates.

Marcus Rashford added a third four minutes later, followed by another first England goal — this time, scored by Mason Mount — in the 91st.

England finishes EURO 2020 qualification with a record of 7W-0D-1L and a +31 goal differential, which is second only to Belgium who sit at +32 with one game still to play. England required Sunday’s victory to confirm its place as a Pot 1 team at the draw for the group stage.

Ox, Hudson-Odoi in England squad; Grealish left out

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Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Callum Hudson-Odoi have been recalled to the England squad after lengthy spells out due to the injury.

England play against Montenegro and Kosovo on Nov. 14 and Nov. 17 respectively. A point against Montenegro will secure England’s qualification to EURO 2020 next summer.

AOC and CHO have both battled their way back to full fitness in recent months and the attacking midfielders have been rewarded with recalls to the Three Lions setup as Hudson-Odoi last featured in March and Oxlade-Chamberlain had a brief return in September.

There is however no place for Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish, as the midfielder is nursing a minor injury and didn’t feature in their defeat against Liverpool last weekend.

James Maddison has been called up by Southgate once again, as he is yet to make his debut and didn’t feature last month as he pulled out of the squad due to illness. Much was made about Maddison being spotted in a casino days later, but Southgate has rewarded the Leicester City playmaker for his fine form.

There are some injury concerns for England with Chelsea’s Ross Barkley and Mason Mount struggling with knocks, while Jordan Henderson is suspended for the game against Montenegro.

Below is the squad in full.


England national team squad

Goalkeepers: Tom Heaton (Aston Villa), Jordan Pickford (Everton), Nick Pope (Burnley)

Defenders: Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Ben Chilwell (Leicester), Joe Gomez (Liverpool), Harry Maguire (Manchester United), Tyrone Mings (Aston Villa), Danny Rose (Tottenham), John Stones (Manchester City), Fikayo Tomori (Chelsea), Kieran Trippier (Atletico Madrid)

Midfielders: Ross Barkley (Chelsea), Fabian Delph (Everton), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), James Maddison (Leicester City), Mason Mount (Chelsea), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Liverpool), Declan Rice (West Ham), Harry Winks (Tottenham)

Forwards: Tammy Abraham (Chelsea), Callum Hudson-Odoi (Chelsea), Harry Kane (Tottenham), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), Callum Wilson (Bournemouth)

England struck by poor club form in qualifying blip

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What do you do as a national team manager when the best players in your group are struggling at the club level?

That’s the issue currently facing Gareth Southgate, and it’s spilled over into Euro 2020 qualification as England fell to the Czech Republic 2-1 on Friday, its first Euro qualifying defeat in ten years.

While its obvious England has a massive talent imbalance between offense and defense, the poor form plague has also struck, leaving Southgate with a host of difficult choices both up front and at the back. It has become such a pestilence that Southgate was left with no choice but to admit it after the match.

“In terms of the players, I think there are players who are not playing well for their clubs, but that is the situation we are in at the moment, certainly in a couple of positions,” admitted Southgate in the post-match press conference. “We collectively have to accept the result, but of course, as the manager, then I have got to accept that as well, absolutely.”

The England boss has some serious pondering to do up and down the pitch. Marcus Rashford has become a problem for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in the suddenly stagnant Manchester United attack, and he gave way in the England starting lineup to young Jadon Sancho, who was unable to lift England on the day. In midfield, a now-broken Dele Alli was a guaranteed starter at the World Cup two years ago but was left out entirely this international break as Tottenham continues to flounder, while fellow Spur Harry Winks was relegated to the bench. Harry Maguire in defense has begun his Red Devils career well, but beside him was Michael Keane who has been downright poor at Everton thus far. Ross Barkley has lost his place at Chelsea and was left among the substitutes in Prague as well in favor of the in-form teammate Mason Mount, but with England misfiring Barkley was unable to change the tide off the bench.

The problem for Southgate is two-fold, and he’s damned no matter what. In the case of players like Alli, Rashford, and Winks, the England boss chose to replace them with less experienced players, which clearly upset the balance and cohesion within the squad. Yet he chose to stick with Keane, who has started every Euro qualifier thus far, in favor of a younger Joe Gomez and that backfired as well, as Keane toiled ineffectively in Prague. Gomez himself has lost his place at Liverpool to Joel Matip, and would have been another questionable option.

Injuries also played their part no doubt. Key players in Aaron Wan-Bissaka, John Stones, and James Maddison were axed due to injuries or illness, while Callum Hudson-Odoi was not selected as he recently returned from a long-term problem himself. Still, Wan-Bissaka’s absence left Southgate with no choice but to select a replacement, choosing Kieran Trippier on the edge of the back line, who has seen an up-and-down start to his Atletico Madrid career. Even Stones had dipped in form at Manchester City, falling completely out of the matchday squad in favor of Aymeric Laporte and Nicolas Otamendi before succumbing to an unspecified muscle injury.

These problems caused issues tactically for a squad that suddenly had to deal with a deviation from the norm. Southgate deployed a 4-2-3-1 with Mount in the central creative role, but according to Yahoo’s Kieran Canning, the national team has not played in such a formation in two years. Southgate mentioned multiple times in his post-match press conference how displeased he was with England’s off-ball structure and movement, a direct product of mixing and matching. “We tried something [in the second half] to make ourselves a bit more solid without the ball, and that didn’t happen,” he said. “We didn’t look any more solid, and we were poor at using the ball in the first half. That said, at 1-1, at half time, we were able to change that. I think we were better in the second half and we created chances to win the game.”

To make matters worse, the few players in good club form didn’t live up to standards on the international stage. Declan Rice, maybe West Ham’s best player so far this season, was miserable in a pivot with Jordan Henderson and hauled off in the second half. The Mirror says between the midfield pair, they made just one successful tackle through the entire match and completed just 11 passes in the opening 20 minutes of the game. Trent Alexander-Arnold, who has been one of many fantastic Liverpool players this season, was bafflingly left on the bench in favor of Trippier.

The issues facing Southgate are a stark reminder how long two years truly is. This England squad felt far more solid and secure with depth as it reached the semifinals of the World Cup just two year ago. Now, there are glaring holes and numerous questions at a host of different positions. With the starters floundering in Prague, Southgate’s choices off the bench have thinned considerably, and Rashford’s injection of quality off the bench two years ago in Russia 2018 is no longer to be found as he came on with 17 minutes to go on Friday. The rock solid World Cup back-three of Stones, Maguire, and Kyle Walker is nowhere to be found despite the presence of all three in the setup.

Little has changed personnel wise for England, and yet two years on after a promising World Cup run with a host of players in their prime, the squad now feels in flux again as key individuals are forced to fight for their places. Gareth Southgate does not sit in an envious position, looking for answers while keeping faith in some key squad members while making necessary changes elsewhere hoping not to upset the squad chemistry. A visit to Bulgaria on Monday represents a quick turnaround between two road matches, an opportunity to right the ship amid the necessary distraction of travel. Anything less than a convincing performance will allow lingering questions to fester for another month, plenty of time for the sudden dysfunction to become even more chronic.

Brighton hammer woeful Tottenham

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Brighton and Hove Albion hammered Tottenham Hotspur 3-0 at the Amex Stadium on Saturday, as teenage striker Aaron Connolly scored twice on his full Premier League debut.

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Following a serious early injury to Spurs goalkeeper Hugo Lloris — his error less than three minutes in allowed Neal Maupay to make it 1-0 — Mauricio Pochettino‘s men never recovered and Connolly struck twice to deepen Tottenham’s crisis.

Brighton’s win was their first since the opening day of the season, and their first against Tottenham since 1983. The Seagulls now have nine points, while Spurs have 11 and are without an away win in the Premier League since January.


3 things we learned

1. Spurs’ crisis deepens: Spurs have had a horrendous 10 days or so, as Pochettino will be under serious pressure over the international break and beyond. After being hammered 7-2 by Bayern Munich on Tuesday, his team got off to the worst possible start as Lloris made another costly error and then suffered a serious injury. When your luck is out, it is properly out. Spurs’ slump is a worrying one, and it appears their players have lost the intensity and drive which were the hallmarks of their last few seasons. Right now it is difficult to see how Spurs will get out of this, as Daniel Levy and Pochettino have so many questions to answer about squad recruitment, new contracts and everything else that happened over the summer.

2. Brighton’s new front-line sets tone: Connolly was a revelation with his clever running, tireless hold-up play and fine finishing. The teenager is ready to become a regular after ripping it up in the U23 side. His partnership with Neal Maupay dragged Spurs’ defense all over the place and after being so concerned about where goals will come from, Brighton have found a new duo to lead their line as Connolly is a star in the making. Graham Potter‘s side are very good on the ball and now they have a cutting edge.

3. Lloris’ error and injury adds to misery: Lloris made an error which led to a goal for the second PL game running but what is more worrying for Spurs is that their captain and star goalkeeper is set for a lengthy spell on the sidelines. Lloris looks to have suffered a serious arm injury and was in agony after his error early in the game. Paulo Gazzaniga will now have to step in and even though Lloris has made errors, his presence is needed for a struggling Spurs side. More bad news for Pochettino after a truly horrendous week.

Man of the Match: Aaron Connolly – The Irish teenager, just 19, scored his first two PL goals on his first start in the league and his pace, clever running and finishing shows he can cut it in the top-flight. What a gem Brighton have produced from their academy.


Just two minutes and 28 seconds into the game, Lloris made a huge error and suffered a serious injury to his elbow.

A routine cross from the left was dropped by Lloris and Maupay was on hand to tap home, but as he fell to the floor Lloris appeared to seriously injure his elbow. The Spurs and France captain was carried off the pitch as he received oxygen, with Paulo Gazzaniga coming on. A nightmare start for Tottenham.

That injury sucked the life out of Spurs as Brighton’s Dale Stephens has a thunderous effort blocked and the home side did most of the pressing.

Brighton doubled their lead as Connolly was found in the box and after his first effort was saved he pounced to tap home the rebound for his first PL goal on his first start.

Another effort from Connolly deflected just wide and he than dragged an effort wide as Spurs were all over the place. At the other end Erik Lamela had a shot well-blocked but Maupay was causing so many problems as Spurs hardly got going in a disastrous first half.

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Tottenham improved after the break as Harry Winks came on, they changed their formation and Davies’ cross was blocked as Kane lurked.

Brighton then figured out Spurs’ new shape and continued o dominate as Pascal Gross hit the crossbar with a clever free kick.

Connolly then wrapped up his Man of the Match display as he ran down the left flank, cut inside and curled home a wonderful effort into the far bottom corner to make it 3-0. Game. Set. Match.

Heung-Min Son, Kane and Lucas Moura all went close late on but it was too little too late for Spurs as their crisis plunged to new depths.

Abraham, Tomori named in England squad

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England boss Gareth Southgate has named his 25-man squad for the EURO 2020 qualifiers in October and Chelsea youngsters Fikayo Tomori and Tammy Abraham have both been called up by the Three Lions.

Both players have other options at international levels, but more recently they’ve been part of England’s U21 setup.

Tomori is able to represent Canada, Nigeria and England, while Abraham had previously been non-committal about representing either England or Nigeria at full international level. Mason Mount and Ross Barkley complete a Chelsea quartet in the England squad.

Dele Alli, Jesse Lingard and Kyle Walker are all out of the Three Lions squad, while Aaron Wan-Bissaka is not called up after falling ill in recent weeks and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is a surprise omission.

England face the Czech Republic and Bulgaria, both away from home on Oct. 11 and Oct. 14 respectively, as Gareth Southgate’s men aim to keep their 100 percent record in qualifying for EURO 2020.

If they beat the Czech Republic in Prague they will confirm their spot at EURO 2020.


FULL ENGLAND SQUAD

GOALKEEPERS: Jordan Pickford (Everton), Nick Pope (Burnley), Tom Heaton (Aston Villa)

DEFENDERS: Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Kieran Trippier (Atletico Madrid), Joe Gomez (Liverpool), Tyrone Mings (Aston Villa), Harry Maguire (Man United), Fikayo Tomori (Chelsea), Michael Keane (Everton), Ben Chilwell (Leicester City), Danny Rose (Tottenham)

MIDFIELDERS: Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Ross Barkley (Chelsea), Fabian Delph (Everton), James Maddison (Leicester City), Mason Mount (Chelsea), Declan Rice (West Ham), Harry Winks (Tottenham)

FORWARDS: Harry Kane (Tottenham), Marcus Rashford (Man United), Callum Wilson (Bournemouth), Raheem Sterling (Man City), Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund), Tammy Abraham (Chelsea)