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Reaction to England’s Draw Against Ireland And Why Wilshere Is Key

The post mortem of England performance against the Republic of Ireland and the missing man.

A 1-1 draw at home against a side that was dismantled 6-1 by Germany last October is always going to evoke disappointment. We all want England to be destroying teams to give us confidence going into the World Cup and despite this poor result, we shouldn’t be too hasty to criticise this group of players. The result was disappointing but could have been very different had more composure been shown in the final third of the pitch and that shouldn’t be forgotten.

England had several opportunities in the second half, none better than Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s one on one but he failed to fire past the impressive David Forde. If he angles the ball wider and into the net then the presumption is England win the match and what was a decent performance can rightly be praised, and generate a small amount of optimism.

There were several positives for England. One being Phil Jones, the versatile Manchester United player injected real urgency to a sluggish first half display. His marauding runs from right back were a joy to see, and the few 1-2’s he tried created gaps in the ROI defence. In addition to this, his Manchester United team mates Wayne Rooney and Michael Carrick impressed, with Carrick in particular imposing himself on the game throughout the 90 minutes.

Firstly Rooney, the move that saw Ashley Cole come within a whisker of scoring his first senior international goal was sensational. Rooney found himself between the lines on numerous occasions and produced that defence splitting ball a few times, all that was lacking was the goalscoring finish. He has been criticized recently but showed his class yesterday and will need to step up once again versus Brazil on Sunday.

Michael Carrick shone for Roy Hodgson’s side, his passing was direct and incisive like it has been for the Premier League champions all season. He shielded the back four alongside Frank Lampard and only individual mistakes either by Carrick or his team mates allowed Ireland players to threaten Joe Hart’s goal. What England lacked that would push this performance on is Jack Wilshere. It is ridiculous for a 21-year-old with under a 100 league appearances to be hailed as the savior of the national team but that is unfortunately what the Arsenal man is.

Wilshere has had a turbulent few season with injuries but you couldn’t help but feel alongside Michael Carrick the Republic of Ireland defence would have been penetrated more than once. His ball carrying skills are among the best in the Premier League and he injects much needed urgency in midfield. He can turn defence into attack in a matter of seconds, an attribute not many midfielders can boast. They aren’t in the same class as the Barcelona pair but him and Carrick could be England’s Xavi and Sergio Busquets.

Frank Lampard is an outstanding player, and popped up again with a timely goal but didn’t make a huge impression on the match, other than his well taken finish. His passing wasn’t consistent and he often gave the ball back to Ireland far to easily. Having Carrick and Lampard as the two deep lying midfielders means England don’t have anyone with the ability to beat their opposition marker and it makes England’s attacks far to slow. With Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain ahead of them, this shouldn’t be the case.

Wilshere’s impending fitness issues are key to whether England can succeed under Roy Hodgson. Yesterday’s performance had plenty of positives but with the Arsenal youngster in midfield it could have been even better. He has a unique ability to galvanise a team to greatness and with him in England’s midfield they can hurt some of the best countries in the world.

So yes it was a poor result yesterday but had we showed more composure in the final third of the pitch it could have been so different. Instead of focusing on the negatives look towards the positives and imagine how much better this England side could be with Wilshere in it. Now that is a promising thought.

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