Southgate needs to play Foden and Saka together v Wales


Gareth it is Foden and Saka not one or the other

Well, the Three Lions certainly know how to bring a football fan back down to earth with a bang don’t they? After the free-flowing attacking verve show in the demolition of Iran in the group open many of us were ready to visit to place our hard earned pennies on England. Four days later the same 11 players, or others in disguise delivered the complete opposite. No imagination, flair or attacking intent, and seemingly no ideas and worse allowed the USA to dominate them.

How can so much change in such a short time and what is the solution that Southgate needs to find before the final group match against a demoralised Wales?

For most England supporters, and particularly those like me, with an Arsenal bias, it seems when Bukayo Saka shines, then the 3 Lions as a whole do the same. Saka was very subdued against the USA, by comparison to his magnificent performance and 2 goal contribution against Iran. The non-Arsenal supporters might simply suggest swapping Saka for Foden but without my red and white bias, I genuinely do not see that as the solution.

England vs. Iran final score, result: Saka and Bellingham star in World Cup opener to hit Queiroz's men for six | Sporting News

The problem against America was not Saka but more his lack of involvement. For the Gunners he stars on the right wing because of the close combination play and support he receives from White and Odegaard. Indeed, the interaction with his Norwegian skipper in the Premier League is one of the keys to Arsenal’s rise in the England set up he was starved of such support and link up. Against Iran the interaction with Trippier and Bellingham, more a right sided 8 like Odegaard worked will but that triangle disappeared last night.

The set up was far more cautious, and we must give credit to the USA for this as well, but Bellingham was far deeper and the supposed 10. Mason Mount was simply not good enough. The Chelsea man seems to be a favourite of the manager, whilst most of us supporters are baffled as to how he keeps being selected. Even when he does get involved in attacking play he is constantly drawn to the left and looking to link with new club mate, Sterling rather than varying it up and looking to equally look right to Saka.

The obvious solution is to bring in Phil Foden, for Mount not Saka, because the City man’s natural instinct will be to look forward at all times. Saka will offer the perfect foil for Foden’s close control and give and goes, because it replicates how the young Arsenal man plays with Odegaard. Against Wales, the Arsenal man must retain his place and be allowed to play with Foden, and I would also like to see Grealish start on the left, to offer the City man perfect partners either side.

Sadly, as an Arsenal fan and England supporter I fear Southgate will retain Sterling and Mount, and simply swap Foden for Saka. This would be typical of the man and the wrong decision.

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