In what is likely to be England’s most important game of the qualification process, Roy Hodgson’s side overcame what has been a week of building pressure to take away a hugely important 2-0 victory over Switzerland in Basel as the Three Lions began life after their disastrous World Cup campaign in Brazil.
There was an air of tension building all week long following the dour display at a less than half full Wembley Stadium against Norway in a friendly, with the normally calm Hodgson even himself allowing the pressure to show in a press conference ahead of the trip to St. Jakob-Park.
England however were much improved with Arsenal’s deadline-day signing Danny Welbeck putting in a man of the match display scoring two goals. He was ably supported by the energy of Raheem Sterling and the hard work of Wayne Rooney.
There were still defensive lapses needing both Joe Hart and Gary Cahill to rescue England on separate occasions however the most worrying aspect for England, in what was an otherwise excellent evening, was the lack of balance in the middle of midfield.
After seeing just how successful Brendan Rodgers’ 4-4-2 diamond system was throughout the second half of Liverpool’s 2013-14 campaign, Hodgson had been toying with the idea of replicating the formation before the World Cup but chose against using it in Brazil.
However the formation was in effect yesterday evening with Fabian Delph and Jack Wilshere rotating as the two deepest lying midfielders which did little to help Wilshere.
Having been thrust into prominence with Arsenal’s first-team whilst still in his teenage years, a lot has been expected of Wilshere with all the early signs suggesting he could be the future for both club and country. Injuries have certainly not aided Wilshere’s cause but now, at 22-years-old, people are wondering when the best of Wilshere is to come? There has been a lot of discussion about Wilshere’s form thus far this season with a lot of criticism being unfairly aimed at him however he is being asked to do just too much for both club and country.
Wilshere’s best asset is something we saw in abundance when he first burst onto the scene at Arsenal, his ability to pick the ball up in midfield, ghost past the first oncoming opponent and then either play a pass in behind to a teammate or continue a forward run on his own. It was reminiscent of Paul Gascoigne.