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Iceland 0-1 England: 5 talking points | UEFA Nations League 2020-21

Scott Newman
SENIOR ANALYST
Modified 06 Sep 2020, 01:13 IST
Top 5 / Top 10
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#3: Kyle Walker’s international career could be over after his red card

Kyle Walker
Kyle Walker's international career may be over after his red card tonight.

Kyle Walker was a somewhat surprising selection in England’s starting XI against Iceland. Not only had the Manchester City right-back displayed patchy form towards the end of the season, he also found himself in hot water during the UK’s COVID-19 lockdown when he was caught breaking the lockdown rules on two occasions.

Gareth Southgate evidently decided to give the 30-year-old another chance after leaving him out of most of his recent squads. But on tonight’s showing, it is plausible that Walker may not be given another one.

Walker didn’t have a bad game per se, but he didn’t exactly offer a lot going forward. He picked up a cheap booking in the first half after nudging Albert Gundmundsson following an errant pass from Eric Dier, but worse was still to come.

For reasons best known to him, the City man decided to lunge at Arnor Ingvi Traustason with little chance of winning the ball. It was clear as soon as the challenge went in that Walker was going to be sent off.

The red card was the first one for an England player under Southgate, and while it didn’t trigger any major attacks from Iceland, it definitely made the job harder for the Three Lions.

With rivals for the spot at right-back including Trent Alexander-Arnold – who was bizarrely left on the bench tonight – and Aaron Wan-Bissaka, surely enough is enough for Walker at this stage. To move on from him would be the correct decision for Southgate.


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#4: Phil Foden looked out of depth on his full debut

Phil Foden struggled to make an impact on his full England debut.
Phil Foden struggled to make an impact on his full England debut.

Despite only starting a handful of games for Manchester City, there has been a clamour for playmaker Phil Foden to be included in England’s senior squad for some time. There’s no doubt that the 20-year old is incredibly talented, something that he has shown throughout his career with England’s youth teams as well as with Manchester City.

When the 2019-20 season restarted after its suspension due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Foden was used much more often by Pep Guardiola and was outstanding. Naturally then, it was no surprise to see him named in England’s squad and then in tonight’s starting lineup.

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However, the midfielder failed to make an impact on his senior debut. Foden was utilised as England’s primary playmaker, sitting in front of the more defensive Declan Rice and James Ward-Prowse, but was unable to break down Iceland’s deep-lying defence.

The 20-year-old touched the ball just 61 times and while he had a pass success rate of 88%, he also lost the ball on a number of occasions in key areas when England were attempting to break through.

Essentially, England looked more dangerous in Euro 2020 qualifiers when Ross Barkley and Mason Mount were used in Foden's position, which suggests that it might be slightly too early for Foden to be a starter in this side.


#5: Kieran Trippier was a square peg in a round hole for England

Kieran Trippier tried hard but clearly wasn
Kieran Trippier tried hard but clearly wasn't comfortable playing as a left-back.
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The biggest question around England coming into this game was who Gareth Southgate was going to pick at left-back. His squad didn’t contain a natural fit for the position given Ben Chilwell and Luke Shaw were both injured. But strangely enough, Southgate refused to call up Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka from the U-21 squad despite the player performing well for his club in that position.

When it came down to it, Atletico Madrid right-back Kieran Trippier was deployed in the position; while he didn’t look completely out of place, it was clear that he wasn’t completely comfortable either.

Trippier was able to register a 93% pass-success rate but continually had to slow play down in order to cut inside onto his stronger right foot. And while he put in six crosses – more than that of any other England player – and created three chances, he simply looked like a square peg in a round hole.

England now play Denmark on Tuesday night. While it’s too late to call an orthodox left-back into the squad, surely a more versatile, two-footed player like Ainsley Maitland-Niles could be a better bet than Trippier at left-back.

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Published 06 Sep 2020, 01:13 IST
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