6 Things About The World Cup You (Probably) Don’t Know

World Cup Quiz

The football World Cup unites the planet like no other sporting event and Russia 2018 is getting closer and closer. The football extravaganza comes along every four years and now is a great time to get your statto-geek World Cup facts and trivia in order. Who knows when there’ll be a mate you need to bore/dazzle in the pub?

Our friends at FootballBettingHub have put together six interesting (or “interesting” perhaps) pieces of World Cup trivia together. Strap yourselves in…

Best Attended – The 1994 USA World Cup, which England decided they’d best not bother with, is the best-attended World Cup ever. The average attendance was 68,991. Max out your geek points by telling anyone who’ll listen that this is a whopping 30% higher than the next best (Brazil 2014).

3 x 5You don’t get any quizzie kudos for knowing your five times table. If, however, you instantly knew we were referring to the fact that three players have played in five different World Cups, then well done! Mexico’s Antonio Carbajal, Italy’s Gigi Buffon and German great Lothar Matthäus are your men!

Hungary for Goals – Three of the most goal-laden World Cup games ever have seen Hungary go goal crazy. Their legendary 1954 team beat Germany FR 8-3 and Korea 9-0, whilst the 1982 side thrashed El Salvador 10-1. That gives Hungary three of the top seven World Cup goalfests.

Stamps Worth More – You probably know that the Jules Rimet trophy (incidentally it was originally called Victory and was renamed in 1946) was stolen in 1966. You also probably know that Pickles the dog found it. But did you know that the thieves took it from the “Sport with Stamps” display at the Stampex exhibition? And that stamps valued at £3 million were ignored in favour of the £30,000 trophy?

Klose The King? – Germany’s Miroslav Klose is arguably the greatest player in World Cup history. He’s played in four World Cups and only three men have played in more. Only compatriot Matthäus has played more games but nobody has scored more goals or won more games at the World Cup than the former Lazio forward. In his four World Cups, he never finished worse than third! Essentially he’s miles better than England all by himself.

Italy, Germany or Brazil – If you want to bet on the World Cup, just back Italy, Germany AND Brazil to win it. Ignoring the first World Cup (1930, held in and won by Uruguay – as you knew!) when only 13 teams took part and there was no Italy or Germany, these three nations have been dominant. There have been 19 World Cups since then and this glorious trio have won 13 of them! That’s a 68% strike rate!

If you do indeed fancy a bet on the 2018 World Cup in Russia, check out FootballBettingHub’s brilliant World Cup betting offers. Their listings of the best enhanced odds, free bets and bookie offers will help you cash in next summer!

A look back at Cristiano Ronaldo’s records at Manchester United

Cristiano Ronaldo’s relentless scoring has added a few more records to his magnificent résumé this year, including becoming the all-time top scorer across the top five leagues in Europe.

The man, who many consider to be the greatest player in the world, and one of the greatest in the illustrious history of the sport, now has a record of nearly 600 goals and over 200 assists for three clubs that feature in three different leagues and Portugal.

‘Christiano Ronaldo’ – Ludovic Peron via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Having played in three games, sealing one assist, in the 2002/03 season for Sporting Lisbon, then-Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson signed the Portuguese winger for – what now looks to be one of the deals of the century – just £16.15 million. Cristiano Ronaldo then used Old Trafford as his stage to set the world on fire; his slick feet, speedy runs, elegant shooting, and lightning free kicks securing his fate as a Manchester United legend.

In 2009, Ronaldo moved to Real Madrid for a world-record fee, but now he might be on his way back. To the excitement of many United fans, Ronaldo is 3/1 to link back up with the Red Devils (second-favourite behind staying) following reports of his displeasure at being the focus of a tax scandal. So, let’s take a look at the records that Ronaldo set in Manchester – a list that he could be adding to if a transfer comes to fruition.

Ronaldo’s records from his time in England

‘57457319’ – Yoca91 via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Cristiano Ronaldo holds the ‘first and only’ title for a Manchester United player with many FIFA awards. In 2008, he won the European Golden Shoe with his 31 league goals. He beat Klass-Jan Huntelaar and Rhys Griffiths by virtue of the value of Premier League goals.

He also won the FIFA World Player of the Year award in the same season, as well as the FIFA Puskas Award in the following campaign for this goal against FC Porto in the Champions League:

In 2007/08, Ronaldo scored the joint-most goals to earn the Premier League Golden Boot award in a 38-game season at 31 goals; tied with Alan Shearer (Blackburn 95/96), and Luis Suarez (Liverpool 13/14). The Portuguese marksman blazed past Fernando Torres and Emmanuel Adebayor, who came second with 24 goals each. That also marks a Manchester United record for goals in a single 38-game Premier League season.

He’s also the first player to win all four of the major Professional Footballers’ Association and Football Writers’ Association awards. Ronaldo was the PFA Young Player of the Year in 2006/07,  the PFA Fans’ Player of the Year in 2006/07 and 2007/08, the PFA Players’ Player of the Year in 2006/07 and 2007/08, and won the FWA Footballer of the Year in 2006/07 and 2007/08.

Finally, the transfer fee of £80 million which took Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid obliterated the former record transfer fee of £46 million for Zinedine Zidane from Juventus to Real Madrid. Despite being 32 years old, a potential transfer of Ronaldo could very well demand a fee close to the record-breaking one which moved him to Spain.

He’s still got a few more years left of playing in him, so there’s no doubt that Cristiano Ronaldo will continue to add to his remarkable stash of footballing records, be it for Manchester United or Real Madrid next season.

Amazing Football Trivia

Footie Quiz

Football Trivia

Sometimes you hear a fact about a footballer, or a team, or an occasion and it just astounds you so much you have to tell everyone. For your pleasure and mine, let us look at a few examples of football trivia that will BLOW your mind….

*The last time that the Netherlands played any international match without a ‘van’ in their starting line up was way back against France during Euro 2000. 17 years! (There was an unused “van” sub that day!)

*Look away now fans at Pride Park – Derby hold the record for the biggest FA Cup Final defeat (6-0 by Bury), and the biggest home defeat by a non-league team (6-1 by Boston).

*Andy Selva holds the rather impressive distinction of being the only man to ever score a winning goal for San Marino, having scored in their 1-0 victory against Liechtenstein in 2004 (in 121 games, San Marino’s record is 1 win, 3 draws and 117 losses). The nation celebrated….their only other notable football moment was their 18 second goal against England in the famous 1994 World Cup Qualifier!

*Yossi Benayoun is the only to have scored a hat-trick in the Champions League Premier League and FA cup – what a career this guy had!

More Football Trivia

*No country has ever won the World Cup during the papacy (term) of a Pope from the same country – That’s Argentina not winning in 2018 then!

*More than 80% of the world’s footballs are manufactured in Pakistan. – admit it, 200 guesses and you still wouldn’t have known that! Test your mates down at the pub

*Perhaps an apt fact considering Father’s day has just been and hone – Eidur Gudjohnson is the only player to come on in an international game as a substitute for his own father, Arnór, in a friendly vs Estonia.

*Prior to 2017, there were only four players who have won consecutive Champions League titles:

Marcel Desailly (Marseilles and AC Milan)
Paulo Sousa (Juventus and Dortmund)
Gerard Pique (Man Utd and Barcelona)
Samuel Eto’o (Barcelona and Inter Milan)

Real Madrid proceeded to ruin this bit of brilliant trivia!

*In Mexico’s 2002 World Cup squad, numbers 2,3 and 4 were Gabriel, Garcia and Marquez

*Swindon Town is the only league football club in England or Scotland that doesn’t contain any letters that appear in the word mackerel. This is one of the oldest pub quiz questions in the book so well work remembering!

*Two players have scored Premier League penalties with both feet: Bobby Zamora and Obafemi Martins. Whoever worked this out needs some credit!

*Speaking of the dreaded penalty…Alan Shearer has missed the most Premier League penalties (11). In fairness, he’s also scored the most (56).

*Darius Vassell scored in 46 different Premier League games – and didn’t lose any of them (still a record). Remember good old England superstar Darius!

*Ryan Giggs is the most substituted player in Premier League history!

* Gareth Bale and Kevin Davies are the only players to score, assist and score an own goal in a single Premier League game.

 

Can the EPL teams Challenge the European Status Quo?

UCL

Although often touted as the greatest league in the world, perhaps more on entertainment than quality, and despite paying out the biggest wages, world record transfers and commanding TV money no other league can come close to, the English Premier League (EPL) teams have struggled to establish themselves in the Champions League era. It is a given that the La Liga’s best teams will make the final stages and Bayern Munich always seem to reach the Semi Finals. No English club has come close to matching that and it is still a novelty rather than regularity when an English team reaches the final 4 let alone the final. So can this season see a change in the waves? With 5 teams in the Champions League there is every chance…

Chelsea are of course going in as Champions and were a cut above the rest in 2016-2017. They have a manager with vast experience, a squad deep enough to go well and a system of playing that will suit the big European Nights. The advantage of a season off from the Champions League may also serve to boost and under Conte. But how much will he gamble on prioritising Europe? Chelsea have a real chance to make themselves a force in Europe. Even at the peak of their powers, they have never set their stamp on this contest with just the 2 finals and 1 win. Now is the time to change…. Arsenal on the other hand will be spending time free on Wednesday probably looking for best online casino to play slot machines while they contemplate the first season in over 20 where they are not in Europe elite footballing competition!

Manchester City are the team I can see establishing themselves more than the others. Of course detractors are going to claim they have never done anything in the Champions league, they have never made an impact etc etc but with the resources they have, the roots they are building and the manager they have at the helm, there is every chance of them breaking it. They are basing themselves and their entire backroom set ups and youth systems in accordance with what the big clubs have achieved and this will set them up nicely the more time goes on. They dream big and that’s what will get them where they need.

Over at the other side of Manchester, they have a manager who has been there and done it all before. But can he build a dynasty like Red Flush online casino? As a man with a reputation of not sticking around it is hard to see Jose being able to do what even Alex Ferguson couldn’t and making united mainstays in the final 4 of the Tournament. But who knows….

It may be too early for Liverpool. I do hope the Klopp era is a long and prosperous one as his brand of football is enjoyable and he seems to be able to get the most out of his players. Can he take them back to the summit where they once were in the 1970s and 1980s? He will need time and money but with a new era on the helm, a burst of young players and a new drive about club…maybe they can?

It is too early to talk about Spurs being able to breach the gap as they are just about settling themselves as contenders in England and there is no Arsenal this year!

In short, can the EPL teams go and make themselves the best they can possibly be and get into the status of being regulars in the latter stages of the Champions League? In time yes, but at the moment, as the last season showed there is still much to work on.

How can Wenger turn things round and make Arsenal Champions?

Arsene Wenger out

Sanchez

Last season seemed to be dominated by discussion over the future of the longest serving manager in the Premier League Arsene Wenger. Despite 20 years of success, consistent top 4 finishes and memorable moments, the pressure began to mount as it became clear Arsenal were going to miss out on the Top 4. With no Champions League football and unease around the club, just how can Wenger turn things around and make Arsenal Champions?

One key thing he needs to do, which is easier said than done, is turn the fans negativity away. Nothing breeds failure and defeat at a club more than negativity, and speaking as a Sunderland fan I have seen this first hand. Whether it be bold tactical decision or major signings Wenger needs the fans back on board. A winning start would ease these….

…but then again Arsenal always start well. One thing Wenger needs to do is work out how to stop the mid season slump that has hit them in recent years. The typical post-xmas fade needs to be eliminated….a bigger squad, bringing in a different kind of player??? Whatever it may be he needs to address it.

Indeed, bringing in that player who can “do it on a wet Tuesday night in Stoke” is something to consider. Although Arsenal have some of the world’s finest players in their ranks, they have often missed that Tony Adams/Patrick Vieira type figure who is not only a leader on the pitch but can take a testing game by the scruff of the neck and grind out winds. The invincible did this time and time again so Wenger has it in his DNA, he just needs the players who can carry out his wishes.

Speaking of those world class players…..Wenger needs to not only keep the likes of Ozil and Sanchez, but make sure they are singing off the same hymn sheet. Is Alexis Sanchez motivated by making Arsenal the best he can or does he want to shine to force a move away? If the latter is true then cutting losses may be an option but a motivated and driven Sanchez may just be key.

One thing Arsene Wenger will certainly have to do is balance the tricky Europa League commitments where they will no doubt be favourites to lift the trophy. Although he is used to European Football, the Europa League is vastly different from the Champions League with a fuller schedule, more tricky places to go and indeed the Thursday night games messing up weekend fixtures. Wenger needs to decide quickly his approach…does he go all out to win the contest and ensure Champions League football, or does he treat it as a second priority until the latter stages? Manchester United have shown the blueprint of how to win this tournament, Arsenal would be wise to follow and should they you would get enhanced odds on them being victorious in Amsterdam next summer.

This could be the hardest season of all for Wenger. If he thought that last season was tough, the reaction to him should Arsenal start badly could be even worse. What he needs is to turn the negativity into positivity and there is no reason, that with a couple of key singings, they could be challenging for the title again in 2017-2018.

 

Why is Footie Quiz the best football quiz site on the Internet?

Football Quiz

For years, Footie Quiz has been providing avid football fans with the very finest in trivia and football quiz questions and as the site continues to grow and grow, its time you hopped on board! Why should you use Footie Quiz ahead of the other sites out there? We are going to tell you why!

The internet is awash with all sorts of Trivia sites and non-more so popular than football sites. The problem is with various sites out there the quality differs greatly so you need a site you can know and trust. Footie Quiz certainly firs that bill!

The most important thing about any trivia site is the quality of the questions. You can have all the glitz and all the glamour, fancy headings etc (which Footie Quiz indeed also has!) but the site will soon become dull if the questions are boring, repetitive and lazy. You don’t get that problem with Footie Quiz. The questions are updated constantly, written by trivia experts with vast experience in the field and produced with YOU the user in mind. With excellent variation, and a vast database….why should you try anywhere else when it comes to football trivia? Why try the rest when you have the best right in front of you….Footie Quiz! Having a focus helps, so unlike sites such as Quiz Factor, you get a focused attention on football meaning the trivia is more fun, entertaining and unique.

The site looks good, is easy to use and navigate from the first experience to the last. This functions superbly on all devices whether it be a laptop, a tablet or your mobile phone. This means Footie Quiz can be there, to challenge, test and entertain you at all times.  Unlike rivals including Football Site the presentation does not put you off!

Throw into the mix that Footie Quiz also has links to Facebook accounts to make the sign up page and level of interaction high. In addition, there are leader boards to measure yourself against the other players. And indeed, this is another key factor….the range of players. Leader boards only work when there are plenty of people to play them and Footie Quiz has competitors across the globe. This doesn’t even happen on major sites like Four Four Two so you are very lucky indeed!

The site will even show you the most popular quizzes so you can see what others are playing and join in with the most active games. This means every day, logging into the system, you will see something new and fresh to play. You can’t say any fairer than that!

At the end of the day, when it comes to football trivia websites then there can be only one that is worth your time…Footie Quiz. The best trivia, the most impressive questions and a huge variety to keep you entertained for hours on end. There really is no reason to look anywhere else! Don’t delay, get on board and start using Footie Quiz today for your football quiz question fix….you won’t regret it!

Do Spurs Have What It Takes to Win the Title?

Delli Ali Spurs Quiz

Delli Ali Spurs Quiz

Source: Tottenham Hotspur via Facebook

For the second year in a row, Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham Hotspur fell short in the Premier League title race despite challenging near the top of the table for the most part of the campaign. On paper, Spurs have the talent required to emerge victorious at the top level of English football but it may all come down to whether the north London side are made of the right “stuff”.

Some teams have it, others don’t. In recent years, Tottenham have come under scrutiny for succumbing to pressure at the worst moment; that cannot happen if Pochettino’s men want to win the title. With some good fortune and astute activity throughout the summer transfer window, Spurs may get their hands on England’s top-flight crown for the first time in the Premier League era.

Defensively, Spurs are arguably the strongest side in the Premier League. According to news outlets, Kyle Walker looks set to join Manchester City for an estimated fee of £60 million this summer and Tottenham fans will be preparing for life without the England international.

However, Kieran Trippier is capable of stepping up to the plate in his absence. The 26-year-old was a regular for Spurs at the backend of last season and there is no need for Pochettino to invest heavily in a new right-sided defender at the present moment. WhoScored statistics show that Trippier ranked as Tottenham’s seventh-best performing defensive player last season – ahead of star centre-back Toby Alderweireld.

Harry Kane Spurs Quiz

Source: Tottenham Hotspur via Facebook

With Alderweireld and co. standing strong in front of Hugo Lloris, Tottenham are blessed with a title-winning defensive unit. In the 2016/17 campaign, Spurs conceded just 26 goals; the second-best record in the Premier League. Following the 7-1 victory over Hull City on the final day, Pochettino’s men also had the best goal difference in England’s top flight. Their tally of +60 was eight clear of Chelsea and Tottenham will be keen to build on their success ahead of next season.

Preparation ahead of the new campaign will be key and Pochettino will have one eye on the International Champions Cup in July. If Spurs, priced at 10/1 to win the title as of June 8th, want to compete with the best teams in the world, it might be wise for the north London side to take the competition very seriously indeed.

Throughout the summer, football fans can keep up with the latest odds, scores, and tips via Footy Accumulators’ Acca Tracker. This app allows punters to track the results of their bets and, with big games against Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain, and Roma fast approaching, there are plenty of opportunities for Spurs fans to get involved, especially with an array of free bets from bet365, BetVictor, and others to choose from.

If Spurs can prove their worth against some of Europe’s biggest sides, many will fancy Pochettino’s team to lay down a serious marker for the title. And Harry Kane will head into the new campaign knowing that his goals may turn out to be decisive in the title race. The Spurs man won the Golden Boot award for the second season in a row despite missing over three months through injury and it would take a brave man to back against Tottenham if Kane is fully fit and firing on all cylinders.

Harry Kane Tottenham Quiz

Source: Tottenham Hotspur via Facebook

In 38 appearances, Kane scored 35 goals and Pochettino knows that he must continue to build around the England international in order to keep Spurs in contention. Dele Alli, one of the most talented youngsters on the planet, has formed a solid partnership with Kane and another acquisition could give Tottenham a new dimension in attack.

Bayern Munich’s Douglas Costa could be on Pochettino’s radar and he is certainly gettable for the right price. The Brazilian has struggled to impress since Carlo Ancelotti arrived at the Allianz Arena and a move to the Premier League would appeal. Tottenham’s involvement in the Champions League will certainly help them to attract elite talent this summer…

Ross Barkley has been linked with a move to Spurs for the past few months but Tottenham don’t really need any more creative midfielders. Pochettino wouldn’t turn the England man away but upsetting the balance of this solid Spurs midfield could have an adverse effect in the long run. If nothing else, his impact and drive to perform better could push Tottenham’s existing stars to improve further.

Signing a couple of players will help to keep everybody on their toes and Tottenham’s stock as potential champions will be bolstered by any arrivals. With Kane leading the line, Spurs are in with a decent chance of lifting the title next season. Pochettino is building a monster and Tottenham could finally fulfil their potential with a bit of luck.

EPL Spending Power in the Transfer Window – Summer 2017

Transfer Window

As summer begins to hit, the cheque books start to come out as the clubs in the EPL begin to splash the cash on players from around the club. Whether they have ambitions of league titles, champions league success or indeed merely staying in the division, the budgets that some of the EPL clubs will be toying with this transfer window are larger than ever. But what can we expect from the money flowing in the league? Who will be the big movers and shakers? And what are the odds that the world transfer record may be surpassed – maybe more than once? So who has the capital to back up their desires and dominate this transfer window.

Eyes must begin in the City of Manchester where the two rival clubs will be amongst the biggest spenders. The spending power of Manchester City seems to be unrivalled but there is every chance Manchester United will smash their own transfer record with the addition of a much needed striker, now that a certain Swede is no longer leading the line. Manchester City’s owners have made to clear to Pep Guardiola that he should set his sights no lower than a unprecedented quadruple haul of trophies and this will mean the cash will have to come out. It is unlikely any other club will match the spending power at City. Over at Manchester United “The Special One” has had time to build and after qualifying for the Champions League, the temptation to join the legendary red devils may be too much. Griezman, Bale…..all rumoured and I would imagine a £100 million player into Old Trafford is not unlikely.

What about the Champions? They certainly have money to spend but in the past that hasn’t always helped them. Last year Chelsea were such a force as they had no European football to occupy their midweek time, but this year they will be back in the Champions League and will need to add a range of players for back up. I don’t expect anything major but a few £20 million plus players should arrive. Liverpool have been throwing ridiculous prices around for the likes of Virgil Van Dyke and Jurgen Klopp clearly has big deals in mind. Anfield has struggled in the past few seasons to be the attractive place it once was but with the Champions League money, the lure of playing for a club with an impressive a history as any and the chance to work with Klopp, I imagine Liverpool will take up this chance with big spending power to match.

The team that will be very interesting in terms of spending power is Arsenal. The lack of Champions League may prove problematic in attracting the very best, but with money in the bank there could still be big moves to the Emirates. Wenger will know he has to buy to keep up and get back in the top 4 and they should still have the spending power to back it up!

Outside of the major clubs in the league, it will be interesting to see how the new boys cope. St James Park should see big money deals taking place as the boss has made it clear the team don’t have enough to secure a decent finish. Even when you look at clubs like Bournemouth, throwing £120,000 a week at Jermain Defoe to sign shows how much money is kicking around at all clubs. At the end of the day, the spending power of the clubs in the EPL has never been greater and although some will show caution, I expect the newspapers will be full of tales of big money buys and records will be broken. Which in turn, should lead to even more excitement for fans!

Premier League Sponsorship Deals – The Rising of the Betting Companies

9 shirts in the Premier League today are sponsored by bookmakers and gambling websites. Just let that sink in for a second….

Indeed, it is very true that if you watch live coverage of any sports event these days you can truly see the impact that the gambling industry has on the world. Every advert you are told odds, enticing offers for new customers and unique bets. Is this right? Should we be exposing people to this much temptation to Gamble? How should Shirt sponsorship be used?

The gambling aspect is worrying and the Premier League have taken steps to ensure that kids sized T shorts do not carry betting logos. That shows the people at the top have realised there is some sort of moral issue here and indeed there is. Kids, and even vulnerable adults, have come to associate sports with betting in a way that was never done before. This is all due to the ease at which one can now place a bet…gone are the days of having to trudge to the book makers and place a bet, now with the touch of a button, an app, an interactive tv and a mobile phone you can bet until you have ran out of money. And that’s dangerous….there is only ever one winner and that is the bookmaker and the way in which sponsorship has come to be dominated by gambling is a worrying trend. What next?

The sponsorship of Newcastle United raised some questions when Wonga took over. A company known for praying on the poor, the vulnerable and the desperate with noted rip off rates and noted dubious practice sponsoring a team in a sport viewed by, and dependant on the very people the company exploits. Something  doesn’t sit right?

Should we have more rules, should there be more in place to determine what is seen by millions of eyes every day and paraded round on shirts in cities up and down the country? Indeed the big clubs follow suit and tend to have the bigger deals with Airlines and car makers etc. You have to go down to the 7th biggest sponsorship deal (West Ham United – Betway) to see the influx. So…outside of the top 6 “big money clubs” 9 of the 14 have gambling sponsors….this shows that the League, if they truly want to address it, need to help these clubs find more deals, make them a more attractive package and perhaps make the financial strains less binding. Otherwise, the gambling offers will always be too tempting to take!

There is also an interesting school of thought that suggest shirt sponsorship money should be pooled and divided between all clubs which had the backing of 11 teams in a recent Premier League meeting, but when the vast differences in what is paid to Manchester United and Stoke City for example are compared, you will understand why this will never happen!

How are England shaping up for Russia 2018?

England Manager

England Manager12 months ago in Nice, England suffered arguably their worst humiliation since 1950, losing 2-1 to the spirited underdogs of Iceland. Feelings of cynicism and mistrust towards the England team, which have festered for decades, became even more prominent. Fans felt alienated that such well-paid individuals could not stand up for their country and show a fraction of the desire that we saw from Strákarnir okkar. Throw in the Sam Allardyce debacle that followed within three months of Roy Hodgson’s inevitable resignation and Gareth Southgate was dealt a rough hand.

And yet, his first nine months in charge have provided encouraging signs. We have seen the team ease towards qualification for the 2018 World Cup, with many issues from the regimes of Roy Hodgson and others seemingly put to bed.

Previous managers including Sven Goran Eriksson and Steve McClaren all at times shoehorned in big-name players, without considering the tactical balance of the side. Hodgson started Wayne Rooney at the Euros, but he also wanted to play Dele Alli after the season he had enjoyed as well as two strikers, due to the strength in that area. The outcome was a disjointed side with too many players trying to do similar jobs, which was partly responsible for the hesitancy the team showed when approaching the final third.

For Southgate to loosen the shackles on England’s younger (bar Jamie Vardy) and best attacking players, it was clear Rooney had to be dropped from the squad. That was not an easy decision to make about the team’s most recent captain, who for 12 years has been untouchable, but it was the right one.

The Three Lions, who as of 08th June are 20/1 to win the next World Cup with Betway, will have more width with Raheem Sterling and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who both started the 2-0 win over Lithuania, included in the squad. They enjoyed good 16/17 seasons at top clubs and have the versatility to attack the flank at pace, when too many players at the Euros only wanted to operate in central areas.

If there was one criticism of the team’s first six games under Southgate, it would be the need for better finishing. England perhaps shaded their friendly with Germany but failed to net and were undone by a fitting Lukas Podolski screamer and could have netted more than two against Lithuania. Some of this profligacy can be attributed to the absence of Harry Kane, a complete striker who has scored 99 goals in three years, leading some to dub him world-class.

Joe Hart’s status as a world-class goalkeeper has been tarnished somewhat by an unconvincing end to his Man City career and a mixed spell on loan at Torino. However, he has only conceded one goal in 585 minutes since the Euros and could have done little about Podolski’s strike in Dortmund. By contrast, Tom Heaton has had a better season at club level, but struggled in his 45-minute outing against Spain, letting in two goals that saw England throw away a comfortable lead.

Joe Hart Man City Goalkeeper

Were Heaton younger than Hart, patience may be needed but he is one-year older at 31. Southgate is better off persisting with a goalkeeper who is at home playing for his country and has experience of winning titles, something perhaps lacking in the squad.

Gary Cahill has won six major honours as a regular with Chelsea and, after leading last year’s Premier League champions commandingly, is deserving of the captaincy. The best partner for Cahill could be Eric Dier or Rob Holding, possibly both with each of the trio used to playing in a back-three.

The wing-back system showed potential against Germany and suits the skillset of the full-backs in the squad. Kyle Walker is used to playing in a 3-4-3 for Tottenham and while club teammate Danny Rose is less familiar due to a coinciding injury, he has the energy to adapt. The same can be said of back-ups Nathaniel Clyne and Ryan Bertrand, the latter often positioned further forward than central midfielders at Southampton.

Providing the licence for these players to attack, either as wing-backs or full-backs, could be Jordan Henderson. The 26-year-old has missed the last four months through injury but when fit, he has proved a consistent and dependable performer at Liverpool. Bar Idrissa Gana Gueye, Henderson won more tackles per game (3.7) than any Premier League player last season and averages by far the most passes per game (85.7), according to WhoScored. Though number of passes does not tell you everything, a player who can gain a steady handle on the midfield is useful when entwined with more creative types.

One of those is club teammate Adam Lallana, who has also impressed for the Reds this term with his intelligent movement and clever footwork in tight areas. Lallana has looked at home against the might of Spain and Germany, but faces competition for the same position in Alli, the Premier League’s highest-scoring non-striker last term with 18 goals.

At least one of Chamberlain and Sterling, who can fit into many different roles, are likely to start in Russia, which means one of Alli and Lallana may have to miss out. Alli has age and goalscoring statistics on his side, but Lallana is more adaptable and tends to have greater influence in the middle third.

Thanks to a resurgence in English talent over the last three years, the Lallana or Alli debate demonstrates the wide array of impressive players England now possess. Added to that, we now have a manager we can trust to pick out the players that will give the team the best balance, not necessarily those of the highest-profile. The current national mood of weariness towards England is understandable, but if we look in the right places, there may be room for a little cautious optimism.

If Wenger Makes a Big Statement in the Transfer Market will Sanchez Be Tempted to Stay?

Arsene Wenger out

Arsenal Sanchez

Source: Alexis Sanchez via Facebook 

The long and lingering transfer speculation around Arsenal superstar Alexis Sanchez is still ongoing, but one Spanish journalist has sensationally claimed that the Chilean will be named as a Manchester City player later in the week. Arsene Wenger, on the other hand, has insisted that the goal machine with a year left on his current contract is perfectly happy at the Emirates and will not be on the move this summer.

Sanchez’s dismay over the lack of success during his time with the Gunners has been plain to see, and he desperately wants to be somewhere he can claim silverware. If Wenger makes some serious waves in the transfer window for world-class players, could the Frenchman persuade his number one forward to stay?

Wenger endured a dismal Premier League campaign last season which resulted in a finish outside of the top four for the first time in his English career. As such, at the time of writing Arsenal have football odds of 11/1 to win the league next season.

If the Gunners were to lose the likes of Sanchez and Mesut Ozil, those odds would doubtlessly grow even larger. But if Wenger manages to attract strong reinforcements this summer it could, in fact, give his star players the belief that Arsenal are able to challenge for the top prizes.

Wenger is thought to have a budget of around £100 million to spend in the transfer market, and he could also generate a significant amount of spending money if Barcelona snap up Hector Bellerin. The Spanish giants are rumoured to be lining up a whopping bid of £40 million for the pacey full back.

This would leave Wenger with a significant war chest to bolster his squad in an attempt to win the top flight while all Arsenal’s main rivals are busy in the Champions League. One of the most coveted players in the world right now is Monaco’s Kylian Mbappe, and Real Madrid are believed to be preparing a staggering bid of around £117 million for the 18-year-old.

Wenger, however, has advised the wonder kid to seek a move to a club where he is going to be assured of regular game time. With the Champions League winners having the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema, and Gareth Bale in the attack there are question marks over how frequently Mbappe would start.

Arsenal are in desperate need of a prolific striker and have been for the past few seasons. If Mbappe wanted to grow into a global star and follow in the footsteps of his compatriot Thierry Henry, then a move to North London could be the ideal platform for him to rise to the next level.

With Arsenal also showing interest in James Rodriguez, it looks as though the three-time Premier League winning manager is well and truly on the hunt for star quality this summer. Whether the Gunners will manage to secure the signatures of these world-class players remains to be seen. If their potential signatures manage to tempt Sanchez to stay is another question entirely.