Taking A Look At The Wealth Of Riches That England Have In Attacking Midfield
After a spell in the footballing wilderness, it appears that English football has reopened its doors to the elusive No.10 position. The exciting part? The major stylistic differences that exist within this trend. In this article, we take a look at the key players in this realm and what they each could individually bring to the table for the future of English football.
Where else to start but the man who has most frequently occupied the primary attacking midfield role for England over the past 4 years. So far in this perpetual season, Alli has racked up 9 goals in all competitions and 4 assists. Most interestingly, several others have voiced the idea that these numbers are somewhat sub-par. Perhaps an explanation of this can be related to the exceptionally high bar set by Dele Alli at his finest, namely his 18-goal campaign in the 2016/17 season.
What these numbers illustrate is the obvious benefit of goal threat that having Dele Alli in the England line-up brings, but there exists a real chance that internationally the best is yet to come. Perhaps Dele’s best attribute is his innate sense of attacking positioning, the sixth sense of knowing where the ball is landing. Now imagine coupling that with the ball delivery of Trent Alexander-Arnold.
On top of that all, Alli now has the extra touch of international experience. Whilst still only 24, Alli will be playing in his third international tournament if he makes the 2021 squad. In a set-up which favours youth, Alli may present the best of both worlds.
Immediately I must put it out there that over his couple of years at Leicester, James Maddison has quickly become one of my favourite players in the league (another one of which will appear soon). Now, I could go on about any number of desirable factors that Maddison could bring to the England team, be it ball-striking or his charming taste in backpacks (do yourself a favour and look up the Louis Vuitton backpack he brought to a game against Spurs), but I would like to focus on set-pieces.
This season Maddison has proved a constant creator of chances from dead balls. In the 2018 World Cup, England broke the all-time record of goals from set-pieces in a WC with 9. The compatibility here is tantalising, Gareth Southgate is now famous for his NBA style corner routines and in Maddison he may have a perfect distributor.
Speaking of my favourite Premier League players, the top-flight of English football this year has had the thrill of witnessing Jack Grealish put in performances which are nothing short of marvellous. Putting up the numbers of 7 goals and 6 assists in relegation-threatened Aston Villa, the obvious benefit of including Jack Grealish in the England team is the indescribable X-Factor he brings on the pitch.
Whether it be starting from the left wing or central midfield, Grealish has the oft-mentioned ability to produce something from nothing. This includes his absolute screamer against Man United (TOP BINS AHA) and his playmaking masterclass against Leicester in the League Cup Semi-Final.
On an international level, one hopes that this transitions perfectly. Fundamentally, a player gets very few chances to shine in the limited games of a tournament. The dream is that a player like Grealish rises nicely to this occasion. Please please pretty please give him a chance @ Gareth Southgate.
For The Future
Moving on now to consider a couple of future stars, one must look at the talent of Mason Mount. With 6 goals and 4 assists so far in the PL at the tender age of 21, I must admit that it is not just his impressive numbers that draw me to Mount. Having had the pleasure of seeing him live numerous times this season, what has always impressed me has been the quality of movement.
When out of possession, Mount does a fantastic job of harrying the opposition defenders and midfielders with little sign of tiring. One example that comes to mind is the top job he did in a slightly wider role away to Tottenham Hotspur. In possession and off the ball, Mount’s intention is clear, score goals. I must say that my absolute favourite thing about watching Mount is that he encapsulates the attitude that so many of us believe we’d have if we got the chance to play, the youthful goal-driven mentality.
With this hunger and enthusiasm, all I hope is that he keeps developing at the rate he has set for himself. No doubt Mount will only find his role in the England setup increase over the decade.
The boy with arguably the best aesthetic and celebration in the whole damn league, is the player we conclude with, Todd Cantwell. No doubt stemming from my admittedly average knowledge of the Championship, I must admit that Todd Cantwell has been my surprise of the season.
What I love about Cantwell is not just the swagger he conducts his game with, but his ability to back it up against the big boys of the league. This season he’s bagged goals against Chelsea, Arsenal, and Manchester City.
Yet, the most ice-cold moment of the season may have came in Norwich’s FA Cup penalty shoot-out against Spurs. Rocking up to the spot doing keepy-uppies, Cantwell topped it off by finishing coolly and shushing the home fans.
With Cantwell, you just get the feeling that there still may be even more to come. I, for one, cannot wait to see him play again once the season resumes. Hopefully his chance in the England team does come one day, and hopefully he does as well as he did in adapting to the Premier League.
Who do you think deserves a place in the England squad? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.