Kieran Trippier

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England thrash Montenegro, qualify for Euro 2020

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The future has arguably never been brighter for the England National Team.

The Three Lions absolutely mauled it’s opposition, Montenegro, 7-0, on Thursday evening at Wembley Stadium. With the win, England officially qualified for Euro 2020 next summer, though that outcome never seemed in doubt, even from the start of qualifying matches in March.

England captain Harry Kane finished with a hat-trick, but it was Kane’s teammates that provided the bright spots for manager Gareth Southgate on a night where he played a very youthful side.

22-year-old Ben Chilwell finished with three assists, 22-year-old Tammy Abraham scores his first England goal, and 20-year-old midfielder Mason Mount started and looked very strong as an attacking midfielder. 18-year-old Jadon Sancho was bright too and 21-year-old Trent Alexander-Arnold has clearly locked down the right back spot over Kieran Trippier.

Of course, the opposition quality of Montenegro, or other group stage opponents – Kosovo, Bulgaria – isn’t great. But England isn’t just beating the teams it’s supposed to beat these days, it’s absolutely pummeling them.

Playing in a fast, high-tempo style with links to Pep Guardiola at Manchester City and Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool, England has scored an incredible 33 goals in qualifying through seven games. The Three Lions have scored five goals or more on five occasions, and the one win they had under five goals? A 4-0 win over Bulgaria at home.

Its a long, long time in soccer terms between now and June 12, the start of Euro 2020. Plenty can go wrong between now and then, (injuries, poor form, end of season exhaustion) and Southgate will have a very difficult job on his hands settling on a final squad of 23-players.

But if this qualifying tournament has shown us anything, it’s that England has a set style of play, it will play it at home and on the road, and against any other team it faces. And that alone is reason for excitement as England fans wait with baited breath for the start of the next Euros, where England will surely get home games at Wembley.

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.

Premier League Preview: Brighton v. Tottenham

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  • 6th-place Spurs visit 16th-place Brighton
  • BHAFC winless since the opening day of the season
  • Spurs fresh off a 7-2 embarrassment by Bayern

Saturday’s trip to England’s south coast to take on Brighton & Hove Albion (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and NBCSports.com) begins what feels like a real crossroads moment for Tottenham Hotspur — not only for the 2019-20 Premier League season, but also the tenure of manager Mauricio Pochettino. After conceding seven goals to Bayern Munich in the Champions League on Tuesday, Tottenham have lost their foremost identity under Pochettino: that of a tough, strong defensive unit.

Toby Aldeweireld and Jan Vertonghen, unquestionably one of the world’s premier center back duos not so long ago, look to have aged five years over the summer, before taking into account that the former wanted to leave the club and the latter was benched for the first month of the season over a minor falling-out with Pochettino. Letting Kieran Trippier leave for Atletico Madrid in the summer, without replacing their starting right back, has proven a disastrous decision. Hugo Lloris‘ propensity for mind-melting howlers hasn’t gone anywhere and in fact gains steam as he approaches his mid-30s.

[ STREAM: Every PL match live

Spurs have just three wins from their first seven PL games. If not for similar early-season struggles from Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United, the whispers of a full-on crisis would sound a lot more like a full-throated shout.

Perhaps Brighton’s recent scoring record — just two goals from their last six games — makes Graham Potter‘s side the ideal tonic for what ails Spurs. After beating Watford 3-0 on opening day, the Seagulls have been hammered to the tune of 10-2 while drawing and losing three games each.

Injuries/suspensions

Brighton: OUT – Leandro Trossard (groin), Shane Duffy (calf), Bernardo (knee), Jose Izquierdo (knee); QUESTIONABLE – Davy Propper (hamstring)

Spurs: OUT – Giovani Lo Celso (groin), Ryan Sessegnon (hamstring), Serge Aurier (suspension)


Projected lineups

Brighton: Ryan – Webster, Dunk, Burn – Montoya, Gross, Stephens, Mooy, Alzate – Bissouma, Maupay

Spurs: Lloris – Sanchez, Aldeweireld, Vertonghen – Winks, Ndombele, Sissoko, Alli, Eriksen – Son, Kane


What they’re saying

Pascal Gross, on facing Spurs after the Bayern defeat: “This game has nothing to do with what will happen on Saturday. They were playing in the Champions League against a very good team, and it will be a completely different game against us compared to Bayern Munich. It can go one of two ways after a result like that. Your confidence may be low if you’ve been punished in such a way, or you may want the next game to come straight away and forget about the last one. It was a very bad night for them, but they will learn from it.”

Mauricio Pochettino, on whether is his players are still playing for him: “Yes, I really believe. I have no doubt the players always want to do their best to win. They play for themselves, their families, then the for the club and the coaching staff. I have no doubt, they have commitment, with four years or one in their contract, that is no doubt. The negative result like the other day was three days after beating Southampton with 10 men, it cannot change completely, the ideas or perception.”


Prediction

Not a ton of scoring chances for either side, as Spurs will surely look to shore things up defensively and get back to the foundation that made them one of the PL’s best sides the last few seasons. Brighton will feel this one is there to be had, and they’ll get something from this game. It’s a 1-1 draw leaning ever so slightly toward the Seagulls.

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)