World Cup 2018: 3 players who hold the key to further success for England in Russia
England has impressed at the 2018 FIFA World Cup thus far. They have scored eight goals in their opening two games against Tunisia and Panama. That is as many as the number of goals they scored in their previous ten World Cup games prior to Russia.
This ridiculous statistic epitomizes just how well England have done so far in this tournament. Gareth Southgate has adopted a bold new attacking set-up for the team and it has worked well.
However, there have been some flaws in the system. Those flaws almost cost England in their first game against Tunisia as a last minute Harry Kane header saved the day for The Three Lions.
England was dominant throughout the game and played some attractive football. But the finishing was problematic, particularly from wide forwards Raheem Sterling and Jesse Lingard. The Three Lions were far more clinical against Panama as they fired in five goals before half-time.
The wing-back system has greatly benefited England but might need more refinement as they prepare to face stronger opposition. Kyle Walker should continue to settle into his role as the right part of the back three played by Southgate.
England still needs to be more solid defensively, but the overall structure of the team has been determined pretty well.
There are a few key players who stick the team together and have already made a massive impact at the World Cup. These three players are the most important to any success that England will have at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
#3 Jordan Henderson
England's system enables a lot of forwarding movements from different players. In order to maintain the shape and balance of the team, some players need to stay back. Their defence is not the strongest in the world and could do with some extra protection in front of them.
Jordan Henderson fits that role perfectly. He has matured into an influential player for both club and country. He captained Liverpool to the Champions League final as he commanded games as the centre-piece of a makeshift midfield three.
Henderson keeps the ball and recycles possession with relative ease. His job is to stay back and help out the defence while other players move forward. Midfield partner Dele Alli is one of the threats for England and he is allowed to run into those forward positions knowing that there is sufficient cover in the form of the Reds captain.
Henderson also plays the occasional forward diagonal ball, which has pinpoint accuracy much like Steven Gerrard. He is responsible to get attacks started for The Three Lions, along with the likes of Kyle Walker and Harry Maguire.
Henderson gets unfairly criticised for the way he plays. Most of it stems from the fact that he recycles possession by passing sideways a bit too often. But that is what he is meant to do. Keep possession and then get the ball forward if you find an opening.
It is an extremely difficult position to play in, and Henderson is doing it well for both Liverpool and England. He is the one who stays back and lets the other players move forward. He also has a good eye for goal.