Last Updated: 15/04/18 11:01pm
With less than a month to go until Gareth Southgate names his squad for the World Cup in Russia, we look at how his England hopefuls got on this weekend.
Southgate has until May 14 to give England’s 35-man provisional squad to FIFA and needs to whittle it down to 23 by June 4 – two days after England’s next friendly against Nigeria.
The England manager, who says he knows “19 or 20” players that he will select already, plans to name his 23-man squad early to ease pressure on preparations.
But how did they fare this weekend in the Premier League? We have had our notebook out over the last few days…
Southampton 2-3 Chelsea
Saints skipper Ryan Bertrand delivered an energetic display down the left for his side, including a barnstorming run to help create their opening goal.
Meanwhile, Gary Cahill was solid at the heart of the Blues’ backline, despite their at times shaky defending, as the centre back continued his return to the first team.
Ross Barkley was also back on the bench for the first time since January 31 after a hamstring injury, although the midfielder was not called upon at St Mary’s.
Burnley 2-1 Leicester
Gareth Southgate was watching on a Turf Moor and would surely have been impressed with Nick Pope who looked calm and assured throughout the game. James Tarkowski also produced another solid performance in the back line, with Harry Maguire doing the same on the opposite side and made some good forward passes in the second half.
Jamie Vardy was mostly non-existent in the first half but was much better in the second, and doing his chances no harm by nabbing a good goal with other fine chances coming his way.
Crystal Palace 3-2 Brighton
Glenn Murray scored yet another goal for Brighton to make it 12 for the Premier League season. Too late for the veteran to force his way into Gareth Southgate’s plans? Probably, and the same goes for Andros Townsend. But Ruben Loftus-Cheek is proving his fitness again and the England manager will surely be taking note of that.
Swansea 1-1 Everton
Tammy Abraham came off the bench and missed a sitter for Swansea with the score at 1-1. Meanwhile, Alfie Mawson was solid in defence and almost headed the hosts level early in the second half. Jordan Pickford was solid in goal for Everton. There was little he could have done to keep out Jordan Ayew’s equaliser, while he made a total of six saves. Michael Keane followed up an indifferent first half with a better display in the second, while Theo Walcott was somewhat disappointing in a wide role for the visitors.
Liverpool 3-0 Bournemouth
Could Trent Alexander-Arnold force his way into Gareth Southgate’s side? England have plenty of options at full-back but this was another solid performance from the teenager, who caught the eye going forward and in defence.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain also impressed and went close to scoring with a couple of shots from distance. Jermain Defoe slim hopes of making the squad were done no favours. By half-time he had touched the ball only three times and he didn’t threaten at all in the second half. Lewis Cook, however, put in a positive display, looking confident on the ball and making some good challenges.
Tottenham 1-3 Man City
Wembley played host to a number of certainties to be on the plane to Russia, but there were contrasting fortunes for key members of Southgate’s squad. Harry Kane and Dele Alli were largely ineffective and Eric Dier was overrun in midfield. Raheem Sterling didn’t fare much better until he scored the game’s decisive goal in the second half, while Kyle Walker excelled against his former club. The positives from an England perspective came with City’s confirmation as champions, with Southgate no doubt keen to tap into their success in Russia.
Newcastle 2-1 Arsenal
Jonjo Shelvey was again at the fore, his expansive passing range showcasing the best of his talents. He hit seven accurate long balls – most of which got Gayle running at Arsenal’s defence. Will Gareth Southgate finally be convinced he could – at least from the bench – offer something different?
Man Utd 0-1 West Brom
Jake Livermore played a starring role as West Brom’s shock victory at Old Trafford confirmed Manchester City as Premier League champions. Livermore had the best chance of the first half, drawing David de Gea into a fine save with a low effort, and was solid in midfielder as the Baggies saw out a pivotal victory – whether it is enough to save them from relegation, though, remains to be seen. Ashley young was anonymous on an afternoon when not a single United player covered themselves in glory.