HomeOTHERChelsea (NN)England 4-1 Montenegro | Tactical Analysis - Townsend impresses on debut

England 4-1 Montenegro | Tactical Analysis – Townsend impresses on debut

England beat Montenegro 4-1 at Wembley on Friday night in a must-win qualifier which earned them 3 points and took them another step closer to Brazil 2014. Daniel Sturridge was back available after returning to fitness, which saw Jack Wilshere dropped to the bench to allow Rooney and Sturridge to work as a two, and Gerrard and Lampard to continue their partnership in the holding roles. This meant another bench-warming role for Carrick, and a surprise start on the right for Andros Townsend who has been producing promising performances now for nearly two years at QPR and Spurs, and is gradually getting the recognition he deserves.


Gerrard and Lampard

It is interesting that now, after all of these years, Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard are now finally able to share the same midfield to decent effect. The problem still remains that they are very much the same player ‘type’, and the failure to utilise Michael Carrick at the base of the midfield should continue to be questioned. Carrick’s composure and ability to play vertical passes are enough to split most midfields, especially in international games which move at a much slower pace than the Premier League, giving him more time to execute these passes.

However, we now see Gerrard and Lampard as much deeper lying midfielders, both still possessing the ability to get forward, but mainly pulling strings from in front of the defence. Here they have provided the discipline and experience needed to get England through. Hodgson’s focus is clearly on getting England qualified, before any idea of him loosening his stance and experimenting with a younger midfield.

Walker and Townsend

Kyle Walker and Andros Townsend was probably the wisest partnership on the right, after Hodgson’s decision to hand Townsend his full international debut. He can play on either flank, however, after featuring heavily on the right for Spurs this season, the two are familiar with each others’ games and are experiencing success playing together.

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Here you can see the unorthodox method for Walker and Townsend when they combine going forwards. Rather than sticking to the typical full back ‘high and wide’ principle, Walker stayed very narrow on a lot of occasions. Townsend did move infield frequently, including the move that led to his goal, nevertheless, for this particular combination, he would pull out into the wide areas looking to drag his full back out with him. This created gaps between the full back and centre back which helped Sturridge, moving out from central to the right, and also allowed Walker to make his driving runs infield instead of overlapping wide.

Attack in Numbers

An impressive feature of England’s play which allowed them to create and score, was a very simple concept: get as many bodies forward as possible to support each attack. Overly direct play or too many long balls in the past has ruined England’s ability to develop patient attacking build up phases. The result of this has been the deeper players having less opportunity to support the forward players in possession, with each attack therefore having less potency.


Here you can see a good example of England’s opportunities to be dangerous, by having more bodies forwards. Of the seven England players supporting the attack there are two outlet balls in wide areas (Gerrard and Baines), two players between the lines not being picked up (Rooney and Lampard), and then two players getting on the shoulder of the deepest defenders (Sturridge and Welbeck).

It isn’t really important who occupies each of these positions, as the presence of bodies alone gives the defenders problems. The players can also interchange and drop into each others positions at a moments notice in order to not compromise the teams’ shape. On this occasion, you can see that Townsend opts to shoot rather than use the available options; however, these are the sort of attacking situations England need to replicate on a regular basis, and this situation did happen frequently against Montenegro.

You can also see Gerrard and Lampard both in very advanced positions in this situation, so with neither player in the sitting role is this a problem? Not really. Kyle Walker chose to sit deep for this attack, and on many occasions he was in a relatively narrow position alongside Jagielka and Cahill when Baines advanced forward. This meant that England still had that extra protection from a third man, however, on these occasions it was just the full back rather than the centre midfielder.


After a particularly dull first half, England were able to carve out more significant chances and will be pleased with the conversion of these chances into goals. The positives were of course Townsend’s debut which has added another player of huge potential to the increasing list. England have always produced brilliant players, however the problem has always been the frequency at which these players are produced. The natural effect of creating these players more regularly will be an increase in opportunities and therefore a greater increase in competition, which can hopefully lead to an increase in our standards. All of a sudden we are seeing young players like Wilfried Zaha and Raheem Sterling struggling to get a look in on the senior England bench. Would these bright sparks have previously been thrown in at the deep end like Walcott, Owen etc? Interesting times for the national team.

Gabriel Jones
Gabriel Joneshttp://glactive.weebly.com
Liverpool fan and passionate football coach!
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