COS contributor Josh Dean examines the tricky area of World Cup selection.
Fabio Capello is to announce his final squad for South Africa on June 1st. Most fans would say Jermain Defoe has cemented a spot, but I say… think again. Defoe has scored 18 goals in the EPL as of today, but when you break it down it is not as impressive as it sounds.
Lets say Fabio Capello is to take four strikers. Wayne Rooney has a cemented place, absolutely guaranteed. After being voted Player of the Year by fellow players, he was voted it again by the writers. He has kept United at top level after the departure of CR9, and you can see the impact he has on the team when it is Berbatov leading the line instead of him. He has scored 26 goals so far this season, and I have no doubt the team will be built around having Rooney as their striker.
I hope to see Peter Crouch as his partner in a 4-4-2 rather than Emile Heskey. Peter Crouch scores and scores for England, and he made such a positive impact off the bench against Egypt. However, contrary to what I have read on the blog, I think Heskey will be on the squad. His ability to hold the ball and feed Rooney facing goal should surely earn him a spot on the squad, and solely for that purpose. He won’t score the goals, but Rooney has spoken out to the press and said he enjoys playing alongside Emile Heskey. If it is not Heskey, Fulham’s Bobby Zamora or West Ham’s Carlton Cole will be the man to do Heskey’s job, but since Heskey has more experience with England and top four clubs… I am going to give him my vote.
Which leaves one position open for a speedy striker, to get behind the defense, and although it appears to be Defoe, I reckon on fire Darren Bent will be the man to go. Here is why…
Jermain Defoe has scored 18 goals as of today in the English Premier League, but lets look at the opposition. Out of the six sides prepared to play European football next year, in the twelve games Spurs faced either Chelsea, Manchester United, Arsenal, Manchester City, Villa or Liverpool, Jermain Defoe only managed three goals, one of them a PK. Of the bottom six clubs, in twelve matches, Defoe scored twelve goals, two thirds of his total. This is summed up in one sentence… Jermain Defoe is strong against the weak, and weak against the strong.
Darren Bent on the other hand, has scored 24 goals, more than half of Sunderland’s total. Against teams heading to Europe, in fourteen games (two more now because of Spurs), Bent netted seven goals, more than twice Jermain Defoe. He has the speed, experience, and obviously the goal scoring ability to make the squad over Defoe. If Rooney were to be hurt, Bent will be the man to step up, as their style are too similar for them to play together. I can’t imagine if he has scored 24 goals with the Sunderland midfield, what it will be like for him to be backed up by Gerrard, Lampard and Barry.
There is an outside chance one more striker could fill in, and that is Gabby Agbonlahor of Villa. The youngster has 13 goals this season, and he is a similar player to Bent and Defoe. His weakness of aerial ability would not be in issue next to the towering Crouch or Wayne Rooney, who isn’t a small guy either. However, his lack of experience for the England squad will be noted by Capello.
If England are looking to progress they will face class teams, so my prediction for the forwards is Rooney, Crouch, Heskey and Bent.