International football returns this week with the UEFA Nations League, European Championship playoffs, and a number of friendly matches. In one such friendly game on Thursday, England face off with near-neighbours the Republic of Ireland.
England were initially pegged to face New Zealand at Wembley, but with COVID-19 causing travel restrictions for the All-Whites, this game has been put together instead.
After mixed results in the last international break, England will be desperate to perform well in this friendly encounter.
England vs Republic of Ireland Head-to-Head
When the group stages of the European Championship qualifiers ended last November, hopes were high for England. They won seven of their eight matches in qualifying, scoring 37 goals in the process. The English looked like a genuinely dangerous side for any team to face.
However, in recent matches, expectation has been tempered. A switch to a 3-4-3 system appears to have blunted England’s attack. While they defeated Belgium in October, their dour loss to Denmark in the same month was arguably the side’s worst showing under Gareth Southgate.
The Republic of Ireland, meanwhile, suffered massive disappointment last month when they were defeated by Slovakia after a penalty shoot-out in the semi-finals of the European Championship playoffs. Stephen Kenny’s side will now miss out on next summer’s big tournament.
Ireland have not exactly been in good form in recent matches. You’ve got to go back to November 2019 to find their last victory. A dour 0-0 draw with Wales and a loss to Finland in October has left them waiting for their first win under Kenny.
The last time these sides faced off was in June 2015, and fans will hope this game is better than the awful 0-0 stalemate that took place back then.
England form guide: W-D-W-W-L
Republic of Ireland form guide: D-L-D-D-L
England vs Republic of Ireland Team News
England boss Gareth Southgate named his squad last week, but it’s already seen one change. Liverpool right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold will be unable to play following the calf injury he suffered in this weekend’s draw with Manchester City.
There are also doubts over the fitness of Marcus Rashford. The Manchester United forward will be assessed prior to joining the squad due to a shoulder injury.
Injured: Trent Alexander-Arnold, Danny Ings, Kalvin Phillips
Doubtful: Marcus Rashford
Sheffield United defender Enda Stevens has withdrawn from the Irish squad with an injury, while his club teammate David McGoldrick has chosen to retire from international football.
Injured: Enda Stevens
England vs Republic of Ireland Predicted XI
Republic of Ireland predicted XI (4-2-3-1): Darren Randolph, Seamus Coleman, Shane Duffy, Dara O’Shea, John Egan, Jason Knight, Conor Hourihane, Ronan Curtis, Jeff Hendrick, Aaron Connolly, Adam Idah
England vs Republic of Ireland Prediction
Clashes between close rivals like England and the Republic of Ireland usually tend to be tighter games to call than other international friendlies. However, with both sides likely focusing more on the competitive games they have coming up, this one could end up being played at half-speed.
With that said, England are likely to have a number of fringe players starting, and the likes of Grealish, Ward-Prowse and Mings will be looking to impress. Therefore, expect England’s class to shine through and lead them to a win.
Prediction: England 2-0 Republic of IrelandPublished 10 Nov 2020, 16:42 IST