COS contributor Josh Dean takes a close look at what good came out of last night’s international friendly.
England may well have defeated Mexico by a score of 3-1, however I am sure Capello will not be pleased by his teams performance. They were outplayed and outworked in the midfield and Mexico comfortably dominated the midfield for a large portion of the game. I’m not sure whether the game plan was to counter attack, but that is basically what happened for a majority of the game.
Chelsea players Joe and Ashley Cole, Frank Lampard and John Terry watched from the sideline due to Capello’s decision to rest them after their FA Cup win nine days prior, but David James of Portsmouth who also featured in the game was on the bench.
Barry and Bent missed out through injury.
Capello said pregame he would experiment, I did not see much of that as he started and ended with a standard 4-4-2.
Robert Green- Great game, an incredible save on Arsenal’s Carlos Vela with his right hand and another nice stop later from the same player. He kept a cool head behind the back line and looked comfortable in goal apart from a parried shot from distance. He was in goal for the conceded goal but I’m not sure what he could have done to stop it.
Glen Johnson- Man of the match. He started the second half with a wonder goal, whipping the ball with his weaker left foot from twenty yards into the top corner with precise accuracy after a one-two with Walcott on the wing. He had a lot of space to cover defensively due to Walcott’s high and wide position, and to his credit he was strong on defense as well as on the attack.
Ledley King- The chronic injured defender was somewhat of a surprise start in the center back position beating experience Jamie Carragher and regular Matthew Upson to the position. He looked as tough as always and contributed offensively to head in Crouch’s header off a Gerrard corner. He did lose his man on a corner kick which led to Mexico’s goal, however his man was a good ten yards out so for me I would not put too much blame on King.
Rio Ferdinand- For a man of his experience, Ferdinand looked shaky. He was caught wondering once or twice which left Mexico with a couple clear cut chances. However Mexico did not score on open play, so I will give him some credit.
Leighton Baines- Again, shaky. In the second half especially he was getting beat off the dribble on several occasions, and offensively he did not provide much apart from one or two runs down the wing. Surely Ashley Cole will be playing as much as possible when available.
Theo Walcott- He wasn’t particularly amazing, however he was one of the better players today. He was playing on the right flank, very high and very wide, which gave him the opportunity to run at defenders which he took advantage of. On several occasions he failed to deliver the final pass after beating one of two defenders, but he did well to provide a spark on the counter attack.
Michael Carrick- Very very quiet. His partnership with James Milner in the center midfield failed to control the ball as well as win it back. He gave up possession far too easily and far too much. I was very disappointed and Capello will be hoping even more much missed Barry will return.
Steven Gerrard- Along with Milner he looked tired. He didn’t provide much today at all apart from delivery on set pieces, which to his credit led to two goals. However overall he should not be too pleased with her contribution from the left or in the middle.
James Milner- He looked very tired, and wasn’t the workhorse he normally is. After starting the first half in the center he switched with Gerrard out left, where again he really did not bring much to the team. His normal composure and ability to maintain possession was just not there today, and Milner is surely disappointed with his performance as well as Capello.
Wayne Rooney- If he wasn’t a superstar I’d say he had a good game. He provided quality up top, but was more effective in the first half with Crouch than after the break with Defoe. He had a few chances, and did well on a header which led to a goal. He showed pace and a bit of creativity here and there to lead to some chances.
Peter Crouch- The most underrated player on the squad, Peter Crouch was very effective. His footwork looked stronger than most of the squad, and his towering presence set up Spurs teammate Ledley King for a header on the six, and he also added one for himself, although he may have been offsides, and the ball may have hit his arm. He looked strong and his partnership with Rooney was much much stronger than that of Defoe.
Off the bench:
Joe Hart- Wasn’t really tested but looked comfortable and saved everything that came his way, parrying little or nothing. (On in 45 for Green)
Jamie Carragher- Solid performance, kept a clean sheet while he was on the field. Although I thought he would be playing backup to Johnson on the right he came in for Ferdinand in the center, and probably outperformed the man who forced him into international retirement three years ago. (On in 45 for Ferdinand)
Jermain Defoe- Woeful, awful, no impact at all. Did nothing to help him win a spot over Bent, who although he is the underdog, his chances just got much better. Very disappointing. (On in 45 for Crouch)
Tom Huddlestone- Pretty quiet himself although he outperformed Carrick. Also Mexico had notably less possession after his introduction, however I can’t say he directly affected that statistic. (On in 62 for Carrick)
Aaron Lennon- Same thing as Walcott, his speed won a free kick on the edge of the eighteen and he brought a spark to the team. It would be hard to decide between him and Walcott, but given more time Lennon probably could have done a better job (On in 77 for Walcott)
Adam Johnson- I waited on the edge of my seat all game to see Johnson make his debut and finally with five minutes left he was introduced onto the international stage, lighting up Wembley with mazy runs and in the last five minutes he and Lennon had the best two chances of the second half apart from Glen Johnson’s early goal. I am sure he will see more time against Japan. (On in 85 for Milner)
MAN OF THE MATCH-
1) Glen Johnson
2) Peter Crouch
3) Robert Green
4) Ledley King
5) Wayne Rooney
1) Jermain Defoe
2) Leighton Baines
3) James Milner
4) Rio Ferdinand
5) Michael Carrick