Here’s What Chelsea Have To Overcome to Win This Year’s FA Cup

Chelsea

Chelsea

The Blues go into the semi-finals of this year’s FA Cup having avoided both big guns, Liverpool and Manchester City.

That is not to say that Crystal Palace will lie down and allow themselves to be trampled upon by Thomas Tuchel’s men. However, there is little doubt that Chelsea and their fans will fancy their chances against The Eagles and think that they can progress to yet another cup final.

In this article, we look at the challenges they face to get over the line and win the trophy.

Inner Turmoil

Chelsea is a club that is going through many changes at present.

Firstly, there is the potential takeover after the issues with Roman Abramovich’s regime. Secondly, there is the uncertainty around the futures of a number of key stars.

The two issues are directly linked, as many experts have pointed out that the new owners will be unlikely to invest in the same way the old ones have done.

Romelu Lukaku

When Lukaku returned to Chelsea, it was supposed to be the homecomings of homecomings.

However, it has been anything but, with the strong striker largely failing to fit into the plans of Tuchel.

Lukaku is undoubtedly an excellent footballer, but Chelsea’s play doesn’t require a target man and at times, it seems like he just isn’t a right fit.

For them to compete against Liverpool and City, a fit and firing Lukaku isn’t quite a necessity, but it would be an advantage.

Finals, finals, finals

Chelsea is making a habit of losing domestic finals, with Arsenal, Leicester and Liverpool getting the better of them in recent times.

These losses leave a scar and one that is difficult to remove.

Tuchel will have to drill his players to leave that baggage behind them if they are going to succeed in this season’s FA Cup Final. Be sure if you are attending the game and want to sell your fa cup final tickets the theticketbuyers.com comes recommended.

Complacency

Crystal Palace isn’t anybody’s fool. Patrick Vierra has created a side that is able to compete for a top-half finish in the Premier League and be a real player in the cup competitions.

If Chelsea is looking beyond them, they may rue that mistake.

Wilfred Zaha hasn’t won enough in his career and if he is on point, then Chelsea’s defence could be in for a difficult day.

 

Heads turning

Chelsea is still a big player in this season’s Champions League, which is a trophy that means more to non-British players than the FA Cup.

If Chelsea has their eyes on one competition, while competing in another, they will be easily dispatched.

As the old saying goes, ‘you can sit on one chair comfortably, but when you try to sit on both at the same time, you fall off’.

Chelsea will have to keep their focus for each competition as they are happening, and not be looking ahead to one, or the other.

The Liverpool factor

Chelsea and Liverpool played out an enthralling League Cup final earlier this season, with The Reds coming out on top in a penalty shootout. Every game between these two teams is sold-out, Liverpool tickets can be purchased via several major outlets.

They could end up facing each other once more in the FA Cup final and The Reds probably have the psychological advantage over Tuchel’s side there too.

If Chelsea is going to win the cup this season, they will have to overcome all of the above and more. It is possible for them to do so, but they will have to be at their very best.

Can anyone stop the Fulham juggernaut?

In the age of the Premier League, Fulham have been identified as the perennial yo-yo side, with plenty of seasons both in the top flight and in the Championship under their belt.

Following a painstaking relegation under the stewardship of Scott Parker last season, many felt that the Cottagers would push for promotion again this season but had doubts over the relative strength of the current squad.

Change proved to be key for the West Londoners, as Parker departed to take over at Bournemouth and Fulham appointed Marco Silva in his place.

The maverick Portuguese manager has impressed in spells at Hull, Watford and Everton but has never really put down a marker in terms of results at a club.

However, with 30 games played in the Championship this season, Fulham sit 6 points clear of the chasing pack at the top of the table and Silva’s influence has been laid bare for all to see.

A remarkable 78 goals have been scored by Fulham in the league this season, almost 30 more than any other side and their attacking talents seemingly know no bounds.

In addition, they have the joint-best defensive record in the league this term too – the perfect formula for winning the league and gaining promotion back to the Premier League at the first time of asking.

For Fulham, cashing in from here will be key and although they have some tricky fixtures between now and the end of the season, the momentum looks to be with the Craven Cottage outfit.

Marco Silva’s side are currently 1.10 to be promoted back to the Premier League this season and something dramatic would have to happen to stop the Fulham juggernaut, who also come in at a rather short 1.25 (odds boosted with the bet365 current promotion) to win the Championship title.

Despite having suffered a few poor results in recent weeks, Bournemouth are another side that have banged the goals in this term.

The aforementioned Scott Parker is at the helm, and he looks to have inspired confidence throughout his Cherries side, and they currently sit 2nd in the table.

Having been an established Premier League side for the majority of the mid 2010’s, Bournemouth look eager to return and they are well fancied at 1.55 to go up this year.

West Bromwich Albion are the perennial yo-yo team, with promotions and relegations seemingly par for the course every season at the Hawthorns.

They haven’t been at their fluent best in the Championship this term, but they are a side packed with quality and endeavour.

At 4.50 to go up, the Baggies clearly have work to do this season, but they are very capable of putting a run together at the right time.

Defying pre-season predictions, Blackburn Rovers find themselves very much in the mix to return to the top-flight.

Rovers won the Premier league title back in 1994/95 and despite some consistency in terms of their top flight position for most of the 1990’s and 2000’s, they have slipped back into the Championship seamlessly over the past few seasons.

They currently reside in the play off places in the table and at 4.50 to go all the way and get promoted this term, Rovers look a decent outside bet this term.

Punters chasing value could well be attracted by the likes of Middlesbrough and QPR, priced at 4.50 and 6.00 respectively.

 

Is this the year Arsenal return to the Champions League?

Arsenal stadium

Arsenal stadium

Despite being one of English football’s oldest and most successful clubs, it has been a barren recent spell for Arsenal.

Having not competed in the Champions League since 2017, the Emirates has been bereft of top level European football and despite a few runs in the Europa League, the Gunners have dropped off the pace both domestically and on the continent.

Not since the end of the Arsene Wenger reign have Arsenal been mixing it with the big boys in the Champions League but under Mikel Arteta this term, the sense of optimism in North London appears to be growing.

Finishing in the top 4 has been the ultimate aim for the Gunners since the start of the campaign and with the season now heading into its final third, the reds actually have their top 4 status in their own hands.

Three games in hand on the likes of West Ham and Manchester United above them could prove to be useful in the final hunt for Champions League football and with the likes of North London rivals Tottenham faltering too, Arsenal look to be one of the front runners for a Champions League finish this term.

With plenty of pundits and those in the know working in the game getting behind the work Arteta is doing at the Emirates and with some excellent recent results in the tank, Arsenal are starting to find form at potentially the right time.

Defending champions Manchester City and Liverpool in hot pursuit have all but secured their top 4 status already and whilst Chelsea haven’t enjoyed the season many would have expected, they too look well placed to finish in the top 4.

With those three spots all but secured, there is seemingly only one place to play for and Arsenal are currently the front runners for the final Champions League birth.

As mentioned, Mikel Arteta has finally got Arsenal playing the type of football the Gunners fans want to see and the results are slowly starting to turn the Spaniard’s way too.

They have the advantage of not having to play European football this season, which could ultimately be very useful, and their young squad is purring.

At 2.40, they are on the periphery of a top 4 finish this season and it would be a seriously big statement if Champions League football returned to the Emirates Stadium.

Ralf Rangnick has endured a tough start to life at Manchester United, but they have plenty of world class players in their squad that could come good at any moment.

Things aren’t going too well at Old Trafford currently but will have a good go at finishing in the top quadrant of the league and are currently 2.80 to do so, the betting bonuses aggregator Offers.Bet reports.

Tottenham have shown more promise under Antonio Conte, but inconsistency continues to plague their season but at 5.00, Spurs cannot be discarded in the race for a top 4 finish this season.

The proverbial jokers in the pack are West Ham and Wolves, who have both put superb seasons thus far.

Coming in at 8.50 and 17.00 respectively, both sides do look to have their work cut out somewhat, but they are both full of confidence and should well be in the top 4 mix come May 2022.

Coutinho and Ramsey can take Aston Villa into Europe

Coutinho

Coutinho

In Phillipe Coutinho and Jacob Ramsey, Steven Gerrard has two players who could get his managerial career with Aston Villa off to a pulsating start. Of course, the ex-Rangers boss has enjoyed a degree of success since taking over at Villa Park having won five of his eleven games in charge, but being able to call upon the experienced Brazilian and exciting Englishman could see Villa push for European qualification in the near future.

Top Ten Finish On The Cards?

Realistically, one would have to conclude that a sustained European charge would only really be possible next season with Villa more likely to secure a top ten finish at best during this current campaign. At least, this is what the latest football betting odds reveal with Gerrard’s men currently priced at odds of 4/6 for a top-half finish.

On the other hand, the most recent football betting tips today don’t predict that Villa will get dragged into any relegation fight either with the club at long odds of 225/1 to go down.

These prices may well lead you to think that Aston Villa’s season will ultimately peter out with little to play for but Gerrard’s appointment will ensure that doesn’t happen. Indeed, the 41-year-old has been tasked with taking Villa into Europe with the Europa League the specific tournament that the Villa Park hierarchy expects this squad to challenge for. With this in mind, you can expect Gerrard to begin to build a team that is capable of upsetting the status quo in English football over the closing chapters of the season.

Leading the line during this process will undoubtedly be Coutinho and Ramsey who showed how devastating they can be during a 3-3 thriller against Leeds United. Significantly, their understanding was almost telepathic as the Brazilian set up both of Ramsey’s goals in free-flowing moves that wouldn’t have looked out of place in a team under Pep Guardiola. In particular, Coutinho’s perfectly weighted through ball to Ramsey for Villa’s second would have left many in Villa Park speechless.

Indeed, it was one of those goals that match-day goers would spend hours watching back when they got home to appreciate the unique understanding between these two from a different vantage point.

Perhaps unsurprisingly and following that performance, Gerrard would go on to say that Ramsey had now done enough to earn an England call-up from Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate. Few would disagree with the Villa manager’s take and even the most ardent Birmingham City fan would admit that their rivals have unearthed a player that has the potential to bring the Premier League to its knees over the course of time.

Furthermore, with the help of the experienced Coutinho and management of Premier League legend Gerrard, Ramsey’s early footballing education at Villa will be one of the best he could have hoped for.

When all is said and done, there can be little doubt that this Aston Villa team is one of the league’s most exciting prospects, and the 2022/2023 season should be one of the most thrilling that their supporters have seen in many moons as their two frontmen tear the opposition defences apart.

Five Of the Best Premier League Strikers Ever

Every team needs a top class goalscorer if they are going to compete at the top end of the league. Usually, that responsibility falls to the striker.

Of course, the likes of Ronaldo, Mane and Salah contribute as many goals as any out-and-out number nine. However, this article is not about those men. This about the players that lead the line and play in a more traditional forward role. TThe website bet365 bonuskod 2022 offers sporting bets which include next goalscorer etc, even for the English Premier League.

So, without further ado, here are five of the greatest strikers to ever play in the Premier League

5. Didier Drogba

Drogba wasn’t the most prolific of Premier League strikers, but he was damn effective. In his 254 games in the Premier League, he scored 104 goals, but that doesn’t tell the full story.

He was instrumental in four Premier League titles for The Blues and his penalty in the Champions League final set the tone for their victory. He is a club legend and Chelsea wouldn’t have been anywhere near as good without him.

4. Luis Suarez

The Uruguayan is a controversial figure, but there is little doubt that he was, and continues to be, a fabulous footballer. His partnership with Daniel Sturridge was the stuff of legend, with the pair almost firing Liverpool to a league title. At his best, Suarez was quite simply unplayable.

He scored 31 goals in 33 league games during one season at Liverpool. It was arguably one of the greatest league seasons ever by a player, which makes him a definite on this list.

3. Sergio Aguero

The former Manchester City player was underappreciated at times. That shouldn’t be the case though. The Argentinian was amazing and for a period of years, he was the best finisher in the league.

One of his key attributes was his consistency, with City struggling to replace that since he left.

2. Alan Shearer

It is easy to forget just how good Shearer was. For over a decade, he was the most lethal striker in the Premier League. He consistently gave everything he had for Southampton, Blackburn and Newcastle and he almost always hit the net.

Shearer was a special talent and it is a shame that he finished his career with just one Premier League title, which he won during his time at Blackburn.

1. Thierry Henry

To put it simply, Henry was a magician. He could turn any situation into a threat. His finishing and work rate were brilliant, but his flair was something even better. In 258 games, he scored an amazing 175 goals.

That is a goals per game ratio of 0.68, which is absolutely crazy when you consider the defenders who were playing at the time. He finished his career with two titles and a place in the heart of football fans everywhere. See more English football news here on E-Soccer.com

Andres Iniesta’s Japanese journey goes from strength to strength

Career Highlights

Born in 1984, Andres Iniesta is a Spanish professional footballer with a lot of achievements in the industry. At age 12, he played for Albacete Balompié in a junior seven-a-side tournament and was recognized by Spanish club’s top scouts. This saw him joining Barcelona’s youth academy. He was trained in the academy for years and became the captain of the Barcelona Under-15 team. In 1999, he led the team to win the Nike Premier Cup.

In 2004, Iniesta joined Barcelona’s first team under the management of Radomir Antić. He participated in 37 out of 38 league games in the 2004-05 La Liga season. During the 2005-06 season, he played an integral part in the team and was praised by football managers. Iniesta’s career grew significantly during the 2006-07 season as this is the period he made the highest number of goals for the club. He played in a number of different positions during this season.

At the start of the 2007-08 season, Ludovic Giuly left the team, and in turn, Rijkaard switched his number 24 shirt for 8. Moreover, on 25 January 2008, he extended his contract to 2014. In December 2013, Iniesta signed a new contract to stay at the club up to 2018. He played his 674th game for Barcelona, which was his final appearance on 20 May 2018.

Time in Japan

On 24 May 2018, Vissel Kobe, a Japanese professional football club, signed Iniesta on a three-year deal. He made his debut on 22 July, when he substituted Kazuma Watanabe during the second half. He scored his first goal in the J1 League on 11 August 2018, and the team won 2-1 against Jubilo Iwata. During the 2019 Emperor’s Cup, he scored the opening goal against Shimizu S-Pulse on 21 December 2019 (which are all available to bet on at カスモカジノ). This same year he cooperated with Rakuten and started his academy, Iniesta’s Methodology.

On 1 January 2020, he won his first trophy in Japan. Additionally, he has made other accomplishments in the country, including winning the 2020 Japanese Super Cup. He currently plays as a midfielder for Vissel Kobe.

In 2020, when coronavirus was prevalent, Iniesta stated it was difficult as he couldn’t travel to Spain to visit his wider family, but he was hoping for the situation to get better. He added that the most important things are people’s lives, their jobs, and moving society forward. On the brighter side, he gets to spend more time with his wife and kids.

During the last months of 2020, football resumed but Iniesta got an injury and had successful surgery in Barcelona. He returned to the pitch during last December’s Asian Champions League. In May 2021, Vissel Kobe announced a two-year contract extension with Iniesta. He will stay in the club until the end of the 2023 season.

 

Three Players Who Need To Be At Their Best If England Are To Win World Cup

world cup england

England will be looking towards Qatar2022 as a chance to build on the excellent work that they have done in recent years and finally win another international tournament.

In recent years, Gareth Southgate has created a side that can compete with the very best and one that the nation has been able to get behind. It shows how far they have come when you consider that they ended Euro2020 disappointed, despite the fact they made it all the way to the final.

In terms of the England squad, these are the three players that they will need to perform if they are going to win their second World Cup, in Qatar.

Harry Kane

Manchester City fans are looking at their disappointing season so far and pointing towards their need for a complete striker. Meanwhile, Tottenham Hotspur fans are looking at their season thus far with dejection, wondering where their world-class striker has disappeared to.

Of course, Kane has been present for Spurs, but he hasn’t been half the player he was before he tried to push through a move to City. In truth, both sides are probably looking at the current situation with some regrets.

As for Gareth Southgate, he probably just wants his star frontman back to his best regardless of what club he is playing for. For England to win the World Cup, Kane will need to be fit, in-form and full of passion. At the moment, he isn’t ticking any of those boxes.

Declan Rice

Declan Rice

Declan Rice, who played two non-competitive internationals for the Republic of Ireland, is now seen as one of the best midfielders in the Premier League. For good reason too, as Rice and his West Ham side have been going from strength-to-strength in recent years.

Remember when he was available for a transfer of £100m.

The fact that West Ham could feasibly look for more now tells you just how good Rice has been. If there is a doubt around him, it is his performance in the top games and there are also questions about his ability to get forward.

However, for England, he knows his role and he does it brilliantly. Fans will be aiming to traveling to Qatar, however 2022 World Cup tickets are expected to be in high demand.

Jordan Pickford

The Everton stopper has a habit of reserving his best displays for the national team. Gareth Southgate has an excellent relationship with Pickford, but there are still questions around whether or not he is a top-class goalkeeper.

On his day, there are few English keepers that can compete, but he has been guilty of having a few rushes of blood to the head in the past. If England are going to go all the way with him at number one, he will have to keep his concentration at the most important moments.

Unfortunately, you would worry about the confidence his defence has in him, but it wasn’t an issue at the Euros, so maybe he has turned a corner.

Three memorable Manchester United vs Manchester City matches of all time

Old Trafford

Manchester United and Manchester City will square off with each other in November this year. The Red Devils have enjoyed a very successful summer transfer window, having signed Jadon Sancho, Raphael Varane and Cristiano Ronaldo. While Pep Guardiola’s side have added Jack Grealish to their amazing squad that is the envy of the world. Punters can enjoy this match with Bet365 bonus to spice up the sporting experience.

1. Manchester City 6 Manchester United 1 (2011)

Manchester United dominated the Premier League for a long time when Sir Alex Ferguson was at the helm of affairs. Winning the league title was the most normal thing for the Red Devils. And they used to be just as dominant in the derby matches, with their rival Manchester City often having to suffer humiliation.

However, the Abu Dhabi United Group’s takeover in 2008 changed everything. With the support of the wealthy owners, the club could now afford to bring in some of the best talents from around the world. Within a few years, they became a formidable side and started challenging the domestic dominance of their Manchester rivals.

One of their most memorable matches for them after the takeover came at the Theatre of Dreams in October 2011. The Sky Blues stunned the home side with a phenomenal performance. After scoring only one goal in the first half through Mario Balotelli, the Citizens burst into life after the interval and destroyed their opponents in what was one of the most one-sided halves.

Balotelli grabbed his second strike of the match before Sergio Aguero also earned his name on the scoresheet. For a brief period, Manchester United threatened to make a comeback when Darren Fletcher reduced the deficit with a superb goal. However, any hopes for the Red Devils in the game ended when Edin Dzeko added two quick goals to make it an emphatic scoreline. David Silva also contributed a goal in what was one of the biggest victories for City over their rivals in the Premier League era.

2. Manchester City 3 Manchester United 4 (2009)

Manchester City had a very busy summer in 2009. They spent over £100 million to sign some of the hugely talented players, including Carlos Tevez, Emmanuel Adebayor, and Joleon Lescott. However, despite spending such a hefty sum in the transfer market, the Citizens failed to triumph in the Manchester derby.

The two sides provided a thrilling contest, with United scoring thrice only to be pegged back each time before their dramatic victory in stoppage time.

Wayne Rooney grabbed the opener very early in the game for United but their advantage was neutralised soon by Gareth Barry. Darren Fletcher restored the lead for his side before Craig Bellamy popped with the equaliser. The frustration for the home side increased when Fletcher’s second goal was also cancelled out by the Welsh forward. However, they couldn’t contain their happiness when Michael Owen smashed the winning goal for the Red Devils when merely seconds remained in the game.

3. Manchester City 2 Manchester United 3 (2018)

Manchester City were unstoppable during the 2017-18 season. They were ruthlessly destroying one opponent after another and had decided the fate of the Premier League title a long time ago. However, they suffered a defeat at the Etihad when Manchester United visited them in April 2018.

The first half was heavily in the favour of City who struck two goals through Vincent Kompany and Ilkay Gundogan. But Jose Mourinho’s side were not so meek after the interval as they launched a strong comeback in the second half. Paul Pogba fired two quick goals to restore parity before Chris Smalling, one of the tallest soccer players at Manchester United, popped up with the winning goal to make himself an unlikely derby hero.

Who will win Euro 2020?

wembley

As we head towards the last-16 of Euro 2020, there have been no real shocks to date. Of the 24 teams that started out the tournament, only eight were eliminated after the group stage and all of the main pretenders made it safely through to the last-16 where things start to get serious for those remaining teams hopeful of glory this summer.

Of the eight teams eliminated, most would have been predicted by experts prior to the start of the tournament. Hungary, North Macedonia, Scotland, Slovakia, Turkey, Russia Finland and Poland are the unlucky teams to miss out but none would have entered the tournaments with high expectations.

Turkey were perhaps the biggest disappointment. A few pundits had tipped them as dark horses, however, they exited the tournament without a single win and the fifth-worst record in European Championship history. Hungary can consider themselves a little unfortunate. Drawn in the ‘group of death’ alongside Portugal, France and Germany, the Hungarians found themselves just six minutes from a shock upset as they led Germany in their final group game. The Germans equalised late in the game, setting up a last-16 tie with England.

Scotland also had a chance to escape the group, however an opening defeat to the Czechs put them on the back foot and despite a spirited performance against England, they were ultimately knocked out by a much stronger Croatia side. Poland, led by talisman Robert Lewandowski, may have also fancied their chances of escaping the group stages but despite three goals in as many games, Lewandowski couldn’t do enough to get the Poles through.

This then leaves us with a last-16 that includes all of the favourites.

Favourites for Euro 2020

France went into Euro 2020 as the favourites to lift the title and nothing has done much to change their status during the group stage. France came through the group of death comfortably, beating Germany and Hungary before drawing their final game with Portugal to seal top spot in the group. They are led by star striker Kylian Mbappe and whilst he has yet to sparkle in the tournament, you feel his best days are still to come as we get into the nitty gritty of knock out football.

Often a frustrating figure at club side Manchester United, Paul Pogba has been one of the stand out players so far of Euro 2020 and France will rely on him and N’Golo Kante in the middle of the park to dominate in their last-16 game against Switzerland.

Betway Sports has France as favourites for Euro 2020 at 5.00.

Behind France, there is not much to split the leading protagonists. England, despite a tepid performance during the group stage, still find themselves as second-favourites behind France. Betway currently has England at 7.00 to lift the title and this has as much to do with a favourable side of the draw and the fact that all but one of their remaining games would be held on home soil at Wembley if they were to make it to the final.

The group stage left you feeling that England still have plenty in the tank and, like many teams, you sense that they see the knockout stage as the real start of the tournament. They will need to address some attacking deficiencies in the knockout stages if they want to go all the way – they are the worst-ranked team in the last-16 in terms of shots on goal and chances created. At the back, however, they are yet to concede a goal in their opening three games.

England’s opponents in the last-16 will be old rival Germany who Betway has at 8.00 to lift the trophy, also owing to a favourable side of the draw. Germany started poorly with a defeat to France before a top-quality performance against Portugal, beating the defending champions 4-2 and showing some really attacking prowess. They ended the group stage by scraping past Hungary despite twice being behind, securing a draw that was enough to seal second place in the group.

You feel like Germany could be vulnerable at the back. They are yet to keep a clean sheet, however, they do have six goals to their name in three games so it could be a very interesting match against England at Wembley.

Perhaps the strongest team in the group stages were Italy. They sailed through their group, winning all three games despite fielding a much-weakened team in their final group game once qualification had already been secured.

The Italians are on a long unbeaten run in all competitions and confidence is high as they head into a last-16 matchup against Austria. At odds of 8.00, they are definitely worth a punt if they can carry this form into the knockout stage of the tournament.

Spain are the third team currently placed as third favourites to lift the title, despite a poor group stage. Betway also has Spain at 8.00 to lift the title and this is most likely fuelled by their performance in the final group game against Slovakia where they finally showed what they are capable of in a five-nil victory. Prior to that, two draws with Sweden and Poland has left them in danger of missing out on qualification until they turned the form tables upside down with that convincing win against Slovakia.

Best of the rest

Outside of the five favourites to lift the title, the Netherlands, Belgium and Portugal all look like decent bets having all come through the group stages unscathed. All three teams, you feel, are yet to show their full potential and like England, you feel like this is the time when things will really get serious for these three nations.

You can get all the latest EURO 2020 odds from Betway Sports and follow all the action on the official Uefa EURO 2020 website.

Are England False Favourites for the Euros?

england football

england football

On the face of it, there is an obvious case as to why England are favourites for the Euros. Play their cards right and get the results expected, and they are guaranteed to have unofficial home matches at Wembley right through the tournament.

Playing in your own national stadium is obviously a big plus for any team taking part in this special pan-European tournament. Roared on by passionate Three Lions fans, it is not a stretch to imagine England could go all the way.

They start the tournament as 9/2 joint-favourites with France in the outright Euro 2021 betting odds, and that makes them the team to beat. England have a crop of very talented players, so what is there not to like?

Home discomforts and the weight of expectation

Well, firstly there is the pesky stat that no host nation has won the Euros since 1984. Portugal in 2004 and France in 2016 were well-fancied to make home advantage count, and both just came up short losing in the final, so that acts as a cautionary tale.

England players have not always coped well with the weight of expectation and pressure that comes with pulling on the famous Three Lions shirt. In fact, they performed better when hopes were downplayed, reaching the last World Cup semi-finals somewhat under the radar.

Club success comes at cost

The hype is back, however, and that is far from groundless. Three of the four football teams that contested the UEFA European club finals, the Champions League and Europa League, were from the Premier League.

On the downside, that means players from Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United have had an awful lot of football for club and country in the last 12 months. Fatigue may be a factor.

Going into the Euros, Chelsea midfielder Mason Mount – a favourite of England boss Gareth Southgate – has played 64 games for his team and on international duty since September. Marcus Rashford has made 60 appearances in the same period, while Three Lions captain Harry Kane turned out 58 times despite club side Tottenham making an early exit from the Europa League.

While you could argue it is the same for players representing other countries with the European club season crammed into a timeframe that is a month shorter than normal, those exceptional Premier League team performances in continental competitions could come back to haunt England. There is also the matter of fitness for key players in the spine of Southgate’s side.

Key central defender Harry Maguire missed the end of the regular season injured, while Liverpool midfielder Jordan Henderson played just the second half of England’s final warm-up game against Romania. That his only appearance for club or country in over 100 days, so there has to be doubts about his fitness.

How much strength in-depth there is in the heart of defence and central midfield is open to debate. Southgate opted against bringing Southampton skipper James Ward-Prowse into his final 26-man squad, instead giving the last spot to Brighton defender Ben White following an injury to Trent Alexander-Arnold in the penultimate warm-up friendly.

The England manager may be gambling on the sharpness of vice-captain Henderson but he isn’t prepared to chance a lack of cover at the back if Maguire doesn’t recover from ankle ligament damage.

While Southgate’s England go into this summer’s tournament as favourites, it’ll be interesting to see if the players that have been picked can perform and meet the raised expectations, and make their presence known as the team to beat.

 

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